And now for something completely different

I love to tinker. This is a rig I devised to work on a little project I’ve got in mind, should I ever get time to do little projects again. This is a DJI Osmo Pocket on a DJI Extension Rod, with an iPod Touch controller, a 360 GoPro MAX on a Smallrig hanging off the cold shoe mount, with a TASCAM audio recorder. Two cameras, three lenses, nine microphones, and two different methods of stabilization. I figured it would be fun to put the physical gimbal of the DJI up against the HyperSmooth of the GoPro in HERO mode. More on that later.

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I forgot to mention the sideshow

riverboat_crane_29063A while back I posted about the riverboat being hoisted into the Missouri River to begin its season, but I didn’t tell the whole story.  You see, while all this coordinated action was meticulously taking place, there was another show going on in the river behind us.  Here’s the video…the noise you hear is the crane crew and the image stabilizer on my telephoto lens.


I don’t know what species of bird these are, but they’re hilarious to watch.  It was cute to see them dart underwater in large groups.  They’d all go under for a little while, then gradually resurface a few at a time about ten meters or so from where they disappeared. There were at least two enormous clusters of them slowly making their way upstream, undeterred by all that was going on around them.

If you know what kind of bird, please leave a comment.  Enjoy!

The only Super Bowl halftime show you’ll ever need

Super Bowl XXXVI had a special significance outside the football realm: it was the first after the terrorist attacks only a few short months before. Concerns about security ran high, as the nation was traumatized by the events of September 11th and worried whether more such attacks on civilians were in store. Thanks to President Bush, we have not been hit since, but some healing was in order. Who best to deliver a halftime show to help along the way than U2?

The YouTube video I’m going to link to below contains the second half of the show. I have a copy of the full show, raw as it was sent from the truck to the network, but I don’t have permission to put it online. The first song they play, Beautiful Day, is also on YouTube; just search for “U2 Super Bowl Halftime” and you’ll find it. But the part that had me standing, jumping, and cheering that day was the second song, perhaps their most famous: Where the Streets Have No Name.

(Link – it’s no longer able to be embedded)

When Bono is walking with the microphone before he begins to sing, he quotes Psalm 51:15 – “O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” In an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music, U2’s manager tells the story of how, in the band’s early days, he’d find them in the bus after their shows reading the Bible instead of out partying it up. Apparently they’re Christians of some sort. According to the program, they almost called it quits when all the fame took hold because they didn’t know what it might do to them. They didn’t break up, however, although Bono has since jumped the shark. I like their music and choose to remember where they supposedly came from.

Tonight’s halftime show was predictably garbage – half dressed “dancers” writhing around without a musician among them – so I tuned it out. In fact, I didn’t even get to begin watching the game until the start of the second half, which turns out to be the best part of the game. I kept a thumb on the remote button to switch away from any of the racy commercials, caught the Dodge Ram “Farmer” ad (easily the highlight of the night), and kept my family’s eyes safe from whatever assault Big Media had prepared for them.

Thursday Night Solstice Sunset returns, courtesy of Lost Lander

The new Liberty Memorial Bridge has one fatal design flaw: the pedestrian walkway is on the south side. There’s very little to look at that way even on the best of days. The view to the north, however, is an entirely different story: the historic Northern Pacific railroad bridge, a wide expanse of open river, and of course the sunset. After my second consecutive 13+ hour work day I determined it was time to walk out on the bridge, on the longest day of the year, and see the sun set at its northernmost point. The sky even decided to cooperate, so it was a beautiful way to wrap up the day.

As I was brainstorming a way to frame my shot, I noticed the river boat pulling a Crazy Ivan underneath the NP bridge. It hovered there for a while before chugging upstream. It was a perfect example of the nice, leisurely feel I was enjoying for the evening. My long work week had come to a close, I was out with my camera on a gorgeous summer evening, and all was well. I also had Lost Lander playing on my iPod, augmenting the mood:

This video for Lost Lander by Stefan Nadelman is so visually stunning and absolutely perfect for this song, I just had to include it. Please give them three and a half minutes of your time and watch it. He calls it “the additive evolution of prime numbers” and it looks both organic and hypermathematical all at the same time.

Have a good weekend – get out and enjoy this wonderful world!

Some important Measure 3 information: PDF download and short video

With the estimated amount of blood money poured into North Dakota by abortion factory “Planned Parenthood” organizations approaching one million dollars, you can imagine there’s plenty of misinformation bouncing around out there. Of course, it’s all put out there by the pro-abort propaganda mill who see faith and religion as their primary adversary. No shocker there.

An informational sheet has been put together answering some direct questions that should probably address any concerns one might have about Measure 3. Those concerns would most likely be brought on by the disinformation campaign waged by the pro-abort bunch.

Click here to download the short one-page PDF file.
If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed, you’re good to go. It may take a little bit for the program to load, but the file should download reasonably quickly. Click on the icon below to download the free Adobe Reader if necessary.

Now onto the video. This addresses some of the same disinformation sneaking around out there but can actually give more background:

There you go. This measure basically provides protection against people passing laws to stifle faith and religion, a war which is being waged heavily here in North Dakota right now, and does not do any of the weird things the pro-abort groups claim it does. Please vote YES on Measure 3.

Aurora borealis time-lapse video, and a caveat about uploading things to YouTube and other video sites

I’m sorry this isn’t iPhone enabled (silly that they won’t display Flash content) but I’ll have to work on compatibility another time. I uploaded this video to my blog’s Facebook page but they really destroy the video quality so I wanted to post it where it looks decent.

I’m a firm believer in applying enough bandwidth to make the video look decent in detail. I’d love to put it on YouTube or Vimeo, but there are problems with that. As a result, I’m hosting it myself in Flash Video (FLV) format. This will display on pretty much every device out there EXCEPT my beloved Apple devices – iPod, iPhone, iPad… bummer, but at least I maintain ownership of my content.

What’s that, you say? YouTube and Vimeo assume ownership of your content? Not exactly…but what they DO assume is a perpetual license to keep, use, distribute, and make new videos from your content. Once you upload to them, you’re without any rights whatsoever.

Here’s how you sign your rights away by uploading to YouTube, according to their Terms of Service page:

“However, by submitting Content to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service. The above licenses granted by you in video Content you submit to the Service terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your videos from the Service. You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of your videos that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in user comments you submit are perpetual and irrevocable. (YouTube Terms of Service page)

Vimeo’s policies are equally disturbing:

“By submitting a video, you grant Vimeo and its affiliates a limited, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license and right to copy, transmit, distribute, publicly perform and display (through all media now known or hereafter created), and make derivative works from your video for the purpose of (i) displaying the video within the Vimeo Service; (ii) displaying the video on third party websites and applications through a video embed or Vimeo’s API subject to your video privacy choices; (iii) allowing other users to play, download, and embed on third party websites the video, subject to your video privacy choices; (iii) promoting the Vimeo Service, provided that you have made the video publicly available; and (iv) archiving or preserving the video for disputes, legal proceedings, or investigations.” (Vimeo Terms of Service Page)

So…have you uploaded something containing yourself, your kids, your friends, or anything else personal to you? Congratulations; you just signed away your rights to it. But it gets even worse; check out these two clauses:

“To the extent permitted by applicable law, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless YouTube, its parent corporation, officers, directors, employees and agents, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees) arising from: (i) your use of and access to the Service; (ii) your violation of any term of these Terms of Service; (iii) your violation of any third party right, including without limitation any copyright, property, or privacy right; or (iv) any claim that your Content caused damage to a third party. This defense and indemnification obligation will survive these Terms of Service and your use of the Service.”


“You will indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Vimeo and its affiliates, directors, officers, employees, and agents, from and against all third party actions that: (i) arise from your activities on the Vimeo Service; (ii) assert a violation by you of any term of this Agreement; or (iii) assert that any content you submitted to Vimeo violates any law or infringes any third party right, including any intellectual property or privacy right.”

“Indemnify” means that if you post a video and someone decides to sue you for some reason – that could be that you used an Enya track without license, you showed someone in the video who did not give you permission to post their likeness on the Internet, or somehow otherwise prompted someone else to legal action – not only do you hold YouTube and Vimeo unaccountable, but you also agree to pay their legal expenses if they get sued for hosting your content. Do you have the money to pay for YouTube’s (ie, Google’s) or Vimeo’s legal team?

In the case of the video above, I take it (as with all my photography) very personally. That’s why I typically put those annoying watermarks on my photos; I got tired of seeing them pop up on people’s website or MySpace pages. I have no desire to give Google, Vimeo, or anyone else a legal license to do whatever they want with it. And, although I’m using the music under license, I don’t want to possibly expose myself to some huge corporation’s legal expenses.

By the way, Facebook has similar language but within different parameters (ie, subject to your Privacy settings). When it comes to Pages, which is how my blog operates there, it appears that Facebook makes no such assertions. Otherwise no other corporation would open up a Page there on Facebook because they’re not willing to relinquish their intellectual property rights either. However, if your personal Facebook account is public, so is your data – photos, posts, whatever – and you give them the rights to use them accordingly.

I have posted stuff to YouTube in the past, but not stuff that’s personally important to me. The exception to that would be my tribute to Sergeant Steve Kenner of the Bismarck PD, a video that I wanted to share with the community. When it comes to things like this though, where I want to reserve all rights of ownership and use, I’ve got to host it myself and suffer some compatibility issues. It doesn’t work the best across all platforms, but it remains mine.

2010 TEA Party photos (and bonus video)

As promised, here are some of my favorite photos from last weekend’s TEA Party rally, held on the steps of the North Dakota state capitol building. It was a well attended event despite the cold and wind.

Boy, it would have been nice to have brought my own chair. Of course, since I was running around with a camera, it wasn’t very practical to be dragging furniture with me. It would have been comfy to huddle under a blanket though, if I didn’t have so many photos to pursue.

My favorite TEA Party sign of the entire day. Brevity is the soul of wit.

This gentleman came in a close second. Way to have fun with it!

Not only did this guy sport a TEA Party shirt and funny sign, but that’s also a Canon EOS camera around his neck. Good taste!

Viva la Reagan revolucion! President Reagan was MY President. I was in sixth grade when he was shot. I didn’t reach voting age during his terms of office so I never got the chance to vote for him, but I would have in a heartbeat if I’d been able to do so.

If you’re ever looking for a guy to explain currencies, commodities, and world markets…this is your guy: Eugene Graner of Heartland Investor Services. He can make the complex understandable. If you want a good nuts-n-bolts explanation of how disastrous our government’s fiscal policies are, he can present it to you in a way that’s easy for a non-economist to follow…and with a strong dose of common sense.

One of my favorite “political guys” is Gary Emineth, the final speaker of the day. He’s the one who opened up the North Dakota Republican Party to citizen activists like myself and was steadfast in making people realize that Republicans and grass roots conservatives like me who are leary of simple party affiliation are fighting for the same causes. Things like the GOP Chairman’s Luncheon and the Take Back Washington Rally are ideas that came from Gary. He had a fantastic speech too, but more on that in a little bit.

Indeed. This is a shirt from a 2009 rally, actually, but I just like the design better than the ones they had this year. It’s a good question to ask: what WOULD our founding fathers do?

Rick Berg, our next United States Congressman, was present. He had a table where people could meet him, ask him questions, and sign up to volunteer. Guess what? Rick’s political opponent in the upcoming race was conspicuously absent. Which one of them is in touch with North Dakotans? Hint: he’s pictured above.

Mr. Berg didn’t take to the microphone. He didn’t use this as a campaign stop or rally. He didn’t attempt to make this event about him or his campaign. In fact, his name didn’t even appear on the flier. He simply came to the event with some of his campaign helpers and a little table, and he talked to people and was available to listen. I got to meet him and let him know I’m doing my part with those silly little YouTube videos and stuff.

Music by Gordon Court. He has played at other events as well and has some catchy politically themed songs as well as Christian and contemporary music.

Here’s a succinct sample of Gary Emineth’s speech toward the end of the event. I often forget that my new Canon 7D can record video, but this time I remembered. I thought you might like one of the more inspirational bits of his speech, and I wish I’d remembered about the video feature when Gene Graner was speaking! You need to hear these two guys every chance you get.

Keep up the enthusiasm, my fellow North Dakotans! Let’s set things right in November!

‘Til the Storm Passes By

Like the line in one of my favorite gospel hymns says, the storm in this photo has passed by. It’s about to pound Wishek, if I recall. I was so sure, having checked the radar at 4:05pm, that Bismarck was gonna get pounded. Then the storm hooked a sharp right and proceeded to miss us almost entirely! My roof and siding are happy, but all the vehicles were inside the Garage Majal.

On a 9:30 taco run I stopped to take some video and a brief time-lapse of this storm as the clouds continued to boil in the eastern sky. The light changed while I was shooting so there’s a little bit of flicker as things adjust, but that’s the nature of time-lapse I suppose. Enjoy:

Cannon in D…HD, thanks to my Canon

As a video professional, I’ve watched with guarded optimism as digital SLR “still” cameras have begun to shoot HD video. While I admit the quality is amazing, it does have come with some caveats. Since this is my line of work I’m well equipped to deal with ’em. While I’d be just fine if my camera didn’t even shoot video, I have to admit the idea of being able to post moving versions of the photos I shoot is pretty keen!