Windsurfing, surfing, Maui, The Gorge, and random rants.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Camera = Better Hookipa Pics

During our winter hiatus I picked up a new camera to replace an older Canon Rebel DSLR sitting on a shelf and also supplement a very tiny pocket camera I had been using for most pictures in this blog.  The new camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35, which is a point n shoot with a 18x super zoom lens and HD video capabilities.  Now true photo enthusiasts will point out that the Rebel is inherently a better camera, and they would be correct.  However there are a few flaws with such a camera.  Perhaps the biggest issue for me was for a true telephoto lens (super zoom in point n shoot lingo) I had to part with some very serious cash, possibly more then $2k.  And that still would not provide the same magnification that this Panasonic 18x lens has. When it comes to water sports, unless you want to be in the water, a huge zoom is critical for good results. Plus the whole DMC-FZ35 kit only cost me $312 total back in December (maybe less now).

Now I'm sure a $1k DSLR body with a $2k telephoto lens takes a very fine photo, but for the purposes of sharing pics on a blog I'm thinking the point n shoot will be good enough.  Besides that the Canon Rebel was an older model that used compact flash cards (obsolete!) while most newer gadgets take SD cards.  The Canon had no video capability, and it was fairly big (not to mention the huge-ness of an additional telephoto lens).  And so on.  So I got this shiny new camera and I wanted to check out.

First picture I took was sort of random.  From our house (actually a tiny energy efficient garage/apartment ) in Hood River we have a sweet view of the Columbia River, looking straight at the White Salmon bridge on the other side with Mt Adams in the distance.

This is great for checking out the river conditions in the summer because the mouth of the White Salmon (in front of the bridge) is a popular sailing spot (known for good swells and jumps).  It's also only a mile down river from the Hatch.  But this bridge has to be 3-4 miles from our house so normally we need binoculars to properly see the conditions.  So here's the very first picture from the DMC-FZ35 right out of the box - the White Salmon bridge and the awesome windsurfing / kiting area in front of it.

OK, so the river is looking pretty flat here, but trust me it will be way more exiting in July (we hope). But I'm really impressed with how close and detailed the bridge is in this shot.  Clearly the camera has good Hookipa picture potential.

And now I've got this camera here on Maui.  Almost all the pictures I posted last year were taken with a tiny pocket camera, the kind you might take to a party, not the kind you would sit on the bluff at Hookipa and take action photos.  And yet there I was, when other dudes had their way larger more expensive cameras with their huge bad ass white telephoto lenses and there I was balancing this tiny tiny little camera on my knee trying to take the same shots.  The resulting pictures weren't so bad actually, but without the big zoom everything looked too small and too far away.

The following pictures were taken with the DMC-FZ35 at Hookipa last Thursday afternoon, and the higher zoom is delivering the goods.  Sailors on the water include Levi Siver, Whit Poor, Casey Hauser, Mark Angulo, his wife, Elena  Pompei, and Bernd Roediger.

First up we have Bernd and  Elena  sharing a wave.  Ladies first in this case.  Elena, who is Mark Angulo's wife, is quite an exceptional sailor herself.  Besides that, she also designs very cool women's swim wear and rash guards.  Check it out at Pompei Beach

Now Bernd Roediger has the wave to himself and is throwing a nice off the lip. I remember when Bernd competed in the first Freestyle Frenzy at the Hatch a few years back.  He was so young then.  Wait, he's still young!  And now ripping at Hookipa.

Another off the lip.

An even bigger off the lip.

And then an even bigger off the lip, this time by who else but Levi Siver.

Mark Angulo throwing down (or up) his patented Mutant.

Mark must have decided his sail needed some extra twist off.  Either that or this is one of Robby's new radical prototype cut out sails.  Seen here first!

Casey Hauser sailed up from Kuau and survived a close encounter with a whale (lots of those around these days) to take on the Hookipa action.  Casey does it all, free style in the Gorge, twenty mile down winders, racing,  and of course wave sailing.

How does Levi manage to throw up all that spray?  Maybe four fins help.  This is a truely shredded wave.

Now for my big shot.  Whit Poor, who is one of the best Gorge free style sailors, has been on the rock this winter working on the waves.  During a rain storm we were all huddled under the Hookipa life guard station, like ants under a rock, when he shows up and starts rigging.  Being the nice guy that he is, he's chatting with us and I show him the camera and, mostly joking, suggest that he "throw a big move" for posterity.  I don't even have the camera on at that point.  So he launches and on the very first wave throws one of the biggest back loops of the day.  Now I'm feeling bad because I didn't even have the camera on.  So I turn it on and see if there's any more action to be had.  Whit rides a wave back in, heads out and on this wave throws a giant one legged jump.  Luckily I got this shot, still while huddled under the life guard station.  Thanks Whit!

Seeing Whit reminded me that Whit and his brother Tyson are both great high wind free style sailors - sort of a unique Gorge category of windsurfing, where us gorge sailors get to see them all summer. Our friend Trudy made this very cool video taken just before the 2008 Freestyle Frenzy, which shows what gorge high wind free style is all about. Cheers -- jamin

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