G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Downwinding with Shakas and the GoPro Hero2 Surf Edition

Friday the 13th July 2012 - Friday the 13th turned out to be our lucky day and one of the most fun downwinders we've done to date. Angulo team rider Jens showed up with both the company Shakas to pick me up for the shuttle ride up to 4 Mile beach which is four miles (what else?) north of the Santa Cruz CA city limit. I was glad for three things: Jens could go, there was wind, and the "extra" Shaka was available. (My own Shaka is awaiting a customs inspection in the Port of Oakland. I get my hands on it Tuesday the 17th.)

One of the things I really wanted to work on this run was getting my GoPro chops improved enough to put together a "defintive" 4 Mile to Mitchells video that shows what the run is like. The one below is, I think, my best effort yet. Changed camera settings and a lot of good luck timing helped to make it so.

I've used several different settings on the GoPro to include: narrow, medium and wide field of vision (FOV) at 1080p 30 and wide FOV at 720p 60. Each has it's own benefits, but if I only have one camera, and one camera angle from which to shoot, I prefer the wide FOV at 720p 60 for color and resolution and the GoPro head strap mount (at right, seen in the car window reflection). My opinion is that by using the head strap, the photographer has the most options for shooting from different camera angles. Whatever you look at is what you're shooting. If you're good enough (I'm not) you can even look backwards or in my case, sit down and look backwards. The best downwind solo photographer I know of is Jeremy Riggs. His videos are fantastic and it shows what a really skilled and knowledgeable rider can get on video. They are simply the best.

Ideally you want more than one camera angle. This requires more than one camera and they don't give 'em away. But if you're really into it you'll get another. Or as the GoPro's become more prevalent, you'll go paddling with a friend that has a GoPro and coordinate your downwinder to get a variety of camera angles and shots to keep the videos interesting.

In that light I'll be experimenting with my new Shaka by installing the adhesive surfboard mount on the tail so I can point the camera backwards primarily. The looking backwards at the ocean angle, is a dramatic one and would capture more of the feeling of downwinding with that added perspective. That said, coordinating with the rider(s) behind you is mandatory.

Be advised that editing usually is a long and time consuming process. I really lucked out on the video below by getting the downwind glide sequences all in one take. So instead of going through three or four 15 minute clips and editing out the good rides, I got it all on one. That hasn't happened before and it may be a while before it happens again.

My feeling at this point is that I've now documented pretty well the 4 Mile to Mitchells Cove 5.4 mile downwind run (maybe even the Davenport to town run as the additional seven miles is in very similar coastline and ocean) in the kind of conditions that seem to be typical for this time of year. Mission accomplished. The next thing I'm looking forward to is for the conditions to change to more wind or larger swells or both.


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