Portland Rugby Club vs Springfield

I used a borrowed Canon 300mm f/4 with image stabilization on my Canon EOS 10D to shoot a rainy rugby match between Portland Rugby Club and Springfield.

Portland Rugby Club passes, by Eric Holsinger

I went to the Portland Rugby Football Club game against Springfield today. It was raining all morning, but I tried using and umbrella and a rain coat to protect my camera and lens. I used a Canon 300mm f/4 with image stabilization and a 1.4 teleconverter. I also shot without the teleconverter.

Portland Rugby Club vs Springfield, lineout, by Eric Holsinger

The 300mm was a great lens, and on this raining day I needed the image stabilization. I was using ISO 800 already. Anything higher and the quality would have been really bad. As it was, you can still see a little but of the rain coming down and it’s not too noisy in the reduced images.

Portland Rugby Club runs in the first try, by Eric Holsinger

I stayed until they changed sides; the rain was picking up. You can see more in the MaineToday.com Seen Portland Rugby vs Springfield photo album.

N.E.F.L. Southern Maine Raging Bulls vs North Shore Generals

My first N.E.F.L. game, Southern Maine Raging Bulls vs. North Shore Generals went well, but the photography was only so-so under the stadium lighting with a short telephoto lens.

The N.E.F.L. Southern Maine Raging Bulls played the North Shore Generals at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, Maine, tonight. The Bulls pulled out a win.

I experienced the frustration of shooting sports under outdoors lighting at night. I was using my Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, which is pretty fast and gives me good quality. But the lights just weren’t bright enough, even at ISO 1600. A monopod may have helped.

N.E.F.L. Southern Maine Raging Bulls vs North Shore Generals

The AI Servo was having trouble tracking the action with such a short telephoto. I really needed, like, a 300mm zoom. Something with image stablilization, too. I could have really used a couple extra f-stops.

N.E.F.L. Southern Maine Raging Bulls vs North Shore Generals

I got some fair photographs from the game tonight. I uploaded them to MaineToday.com at http://seen.mainetoday.com/album.html?alb=858. I think I could have done a lot more with some more light. Maybe earlier in the season, when the sun was up longer. Otherwise, I need a longer lens with image stabilization.

Freestyle Motocross at Oxford Plains Speedway

I shot photos at the Boost/Rockstar Freestyle Motocross competition at Oxford Plains Speedway, including Skydive New England and Vertical Outlaws.

Rock Solid, Freestyle Motocross at Oxford Plains Speedway

I went to Oxford Plains Speedway, in Oxford, Maine, to see the Boost/Rockstar Freestyle Motocross expo which was sponsored by Ken’s Yamaha. I took my camera and shot a lot of photos of people in the crowd for the MaineToday.com Seen blog. I spent a lot of time talking to people and taking their photos. It was a lot of fun and I got to talk to a lot of nice people.

The show was great. It started with Skydive New England making a pretty big entrance by skydiving into the stadium with the Metal Mulisha. The Mulisha opted to land on the grassy infield, while the Skydive NE folks landed right on the paved track. Wow.

Skydive New England at Oxford Plains Speedway Skydive New England at Oxford Plains Speedway The Crowd watches Skydive New England at Oxford Plains Speedway
The guys from Vertical Outlaws, a profesional streetbike freestyle team from Southern Maine, did a cool streetbike demo. From my vantage point, photos were difficult. I had to shoot through the fence around the track and opted to just watch the show.

Vertical Outlaws at Oxford Plains Speedway Vertical Outlaws at Oxford Plains Speedway Vertical Outaws at Oxford Plains Speedway
The Freestyle Motocross was great. The tricks were awesome: Hart Attacks, Lazy Boy’s, Cliff Hangers, Rock Solid, inverted nac nac’s. Just crazy stuff. The step-up competition was a downer. The landing was pretty harsh, so after a bunch of tries, the riders agreed to split the prize money. Not very exciting, but I wouldn’t want to see anyone ruin their career or get an unnecessary injury over $1k.

Jim McNeil Hart Attack, Freestyle Motocross at Oxford Plains Speedway step up competition at Oxford Plains Speedway

the campsite: a stop motion animation short

I just created my first stop motion animation short using my Canon EOS 10D as remote capture device and Monkey Jam to build the movie file.

I created “the campsite“, a stop motion animation short using my Canon EOS 10D camera and Monkey Jam. I have been reading about and watching brickfilms and some stop motion animation films online. I had the crazy idea that it would be fun to blow my sons mind by making a short film of some of his toys. It turns out that it’s a lot of work.

Casting Call

First, I had to raid my sons toy collection. I picked a couple of figures from an adventure sport/camping play set. They had chairs and tables and a bunch of coleman gear that was already their size. I figured this would be the easier way to create a “set” without using Legos.

the campsite, still frame, by eric holsinger

Set Construction and Lighting

I cleared an area on one of my computer desks and put an old checkerboard down for the set area. The background is a large piece of graph paper stuck to a LCD monitor.

It took a while to arrange the scene for a sense of depth. I experimented a lot with the shrubbery.

I put my camera on the tripod and connected the remote capture cable, a USB cable, to my laptop. My Canon EOS 10D has Remote Capture abilitiy. So I can shoot the camera from my laptop. I used my EOS 550 EX flash with a Stofen Bounce Flash to even out the light.

Then I experimented with the exposure and depth-of-field. I ended up focusing on the firepit at f/8.

Here is the setup:

the campsite, by eric holsinger; set construction and camera angle


I shot 27 frames of animation. Then I used Monkey Jam to make the movie. At 15 frames per second, it looks a bit jerky. At a faster fps, the motion looks smoother, but obviously doesn’t last as long.

Lessons Learned

I discovered that it’s really hard to keep the set in place. I knew enough to stick the shrubs and firepit to the checkerboard. I also stuck the checkerboard to the desk. But the chairs weren’t stuck and neither were the table and cooler in the background. When the figures got close to those items, I bumped them and you can see the jump in the animation.

Also, it’s really difficult to get the “actors” to behave. I used plasti-tak to hold their feet to the checkboard, but the plasti-tak stretched and stuck to the checkerboard more than it did to their feet.

Looking to the Future

The next thing to do will be to actually create a little script and then add some sound effects.

You can view the animation by downloading from

Paint Shop Pro X: RAW power

Corel Paint Shop Pro X, with RAW support, may be the best workflow improvement I’ve experienced since I bought my digital camera.

I finally upgraded to the latest version of Corel Paint Shop Pro X. It may be the best workflow improvement I’ve experienced since I bought my digital camera.

Corel Paint Shop Pro

I have to admit that I was very reluctant to even try Paint Shop Pro X after being disappointed with the trial version of Corel Paint Shop Pro 9. Paint Shop Pro X has many changes to the user interface and some of the tools I used most in JASC Paint Shop Pro 8 are completely different in PSP X. But, PSP X starts much faster than PSP 9 and the RAW support alone may be worth it.

Workflow (more work than flow)

So, I have a Canon 10D. It’s getting a bit dated, now, and only shoots at a mere 6.3 Megapixels. But, it has an option to shoot in Canon RAW format. Since I didn’t have RAW support in PSP 8, I would use Canon ZoomBrowser EX and File Viewer Utility to do some processing on the RAW image and then convert it to JPG.

Canon ZoomBrowser EX is the main tool for managing and manipulating images from my Canon 10D. From this tool you can copy images from your camera, or memory card, and store them on your drive.

Canon ZoomBrowser EX

You can use the ZoomBrowser to “zoom” into directories and convert images for preview. The “zoom” is an animation of the directory getting larger until it fills the viewing area. It’s cute but I could do without it if the tool was faster.

From ZoomBrowser, you can open the Canon File Viewer Utililty which will allow you to manipulate the exposure and do some processing of the image.

Canon File Viewer Utiltiy

In File Viewer Utility, you can adjust the contrast, color, sharpness, exposure, etc.

Then I open the converted JPG in JASC Paint Shop Pro 8 for further manipulation.

Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8

In Paint Shop Pro 8, I would usually do some saturation or contrast adjustments and then resize and run Unsharp Mask. Sometimes I would just run One Step Photo Fix.

The pair of ZoomBrowser EX and File Viewer Utility is pretty slow; so it’s a pain to do a lot of images. Most of the time I would just convert the RAW files to JPG with a bulk adjustment. But, what is the point of wasting time doing a sloppy RAW conversion if the camera can do a good job of it on the spot at capture time? It was easier to just work with a JPG file in PSP 8 than to work with a RAW file in ZoomBrowser EX and File Viewer Utility.

Shooting in RAW gives you some artistic options in the digital darkroom that are harder to achieve with JPG. Once the image goes to JPG, the color range is clipped. For snapshots, this isn’t a big deal. But when you are trying to get a really good photograph, and you use your tripod, you use your shutter release, you set the exposure adjustment and you take a long exposure at ISO 100, it makes sense to work the image using all your digital tools before converting it.

An evolution occurred in my workflow when the free download of Pixmantec Raw Essentials became available.

Pixmantec Raw Essentials 2006

Pixmantec Raw Essentials allows me to browse files and manipulate them more quickly. Raw Essentials does a low resolution rendering and replaces it will a higher resolution. Technically, the image probably doesn’t display any faster, but it’s more tolerable. The best feature is probably the JPG conversion. Pixmantec Raw Essentials takes advantage of background processing to convert the images while you are doing something else. So, you don’t have to wait for the image to finish. You can just keep working.

Less work, more flow

Paint Shop Pro now has RAW support for Canon CRW files. Now I can browse and manipulate RAW files in one tool. An image browser opens by default showing thumbnails of all the RAW images. When I open an image, I am given the dialog for Smart Photo Fix. This is good because a RAW file, by definition, has only had very minimal processing in the camera and needs to be processed to get the most out of the image.

Corel Paint Shop Pro X

A little rough around the edges

There are some problems with Paint Shop Pro X that I hope are fixed soon. One big problem is the Image Browser seems to get confused somehow and starts throwing up “illegal argument” error messages that never seem to end.

Paint Shop Pro X - Invalid Argument in Browser

I’ve had to kill PSP X from Task Manager several times. I can reproduce it by resizing the Browser panel. That just throws it into a death spiral for some reason.

Another problem with the Browser is speed. It seems to render the whole image instead of just doing a rough render, followed by a better quality replacement. That would really make the Browser nicer. A large directory can take a long time just to render the image you want so you can select it for editing.