Monday, January 23, 2012

Gearing up

Now that the teams are known, it's time to gear up to photograph Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium. Coverage plans for the game will come together, but the real planning goes in to figuring out what stories and multimedia content I will plan to produce from Super Week. There will be concerts, celebrity and player appearances , cooperate events and Media Day to plan. I've got some video interviews with players planned for Media Day, but the pieces for the rest of the week should fall into place soon.

As far as Game day goes, when you get down to it, it's really just another game. The biggest difference is the limited shooting positions due to the number of photographers, assistants, card runners, camera operators, cord pullers, audio people and others who will be on the sidelines. Dealing with all that can be tricky for the one or two-man outfit, but not impossible. This will be my third Super Bowl and fourth Super Week, so I feel I've got a decent handle on how to prepare for the game. Now, it's just getting down to it.

While I am shooting on assignment, I am also open to accept assignments during the week. So, if your company, publication or organization needs an Indiana based photographer to handle your assignments, please contact my through my website, RyanVisuals.com.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Indiana deer season closes down




This was some kind of deer season for me. What kind, exactly, is open for debate, but all in all not bad. On one hand, I scored this old bruiser on Halloween, but on the other hand, I missed a shot at a buck that made this one look small. I bought a new bow, but had to retire an old friend. I spent time in the woods, but not nearly the amount I'm accustomed to. I missed the opening day of firearms and muzzleloader seasons, but I helped friends and family on both of those weekends. So, I guess the best way to describe this season was bittersweet.

After the missed shot mishap, I decided to retire my old Jennings Buckmaster bow that I've had for 14 years. Sure it wasn't the bow's fault, but I've noticed in the last few years my accuracy was slipping due to a variety of factors, including my physiology. It was time. I'd had my eye on other Bear Archery products for awhile, but my friends tried to convince me the Mathews Z7 Extreme was the way to go. I handled and shot several bows, including the Z7, and decided the Bear Mauler was the smoothest shooting, quietest bow of all that I tried. So I bought one, went straight home and shot 50 arrows a day through it for a week. That thing is nice. Very smooth, very solid wall, and very quiet. The buck pictured above was its first victim, a 35-yard, double lung shot.

Aside from my normal deer camp week the first week of November, I just didn't get out much this season. I was caught in the middle of leaving my job at the newspaper to go on my own. I had a ton of work involved incorporating and setting up my new photo service/agency, INMedia Source Inc. All the while, my wife had imposed a Thanksgiving deadline on me for completing Phase 2 of our basement finish. I worked days on the business and nights and weekends on that basement. The good news is the business is up and running, and the basement entertainment area got done in time.

As I do with my first deer every year, I donated the meat from my buck to the Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry program. I figured I had plenty of time to tag a doe for the freezer. Well that plan fell through. I missed the opening weekend of firearms season due to helping a long-time friend on his pursuit of running a 100-mile marathon in the desert near Phoenix. That was a great trip, but I don't like missing the firearms opener.

I still had muzzleloader season, or so I thought. My mother in law sold her house, and the move ate that weekend. Work, weather and other issues popped up that basically crippled me the rest of the season. I did manage to get out for a late-season bow hunt and had a close call, but it was not to be.

No, it wasn't a bad season, but I sure would've liked for it to have gone better. I saw a lot of shooter bucks and a lot of nice bucks that will be awesome next season. So I to sum it up, I could quote every Chicago Cubs fan I ever met and say, "There's always next year."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tired of dead batteries




You've seen the numerous hunting TV shows and decided to jump into filming your own hunts. Maybe because your intent wasn't to go as far as producing TV shows, you didn't want to get soaked buying the multiple thousands of dollars worth of gear it takes to do it. Sure, you may have spent a little cash getting a decent HD video camera, or even two for a POV angle or other second angle, but there are considerations that have to be accounted for when it comes to making hunting videos.

One such consideration is camera batteries. They are expensive little dudes. Despite their considerable cost, they do not last nearly as long as you'd like. So, here's the deal, unless you're using high dollar cameras (>$3,000) there just aren't many battery options for your video cameras to keep you rolling when trying to film in the outdoors. You could search high and low for a higher capacity, brand-specific battery to fit the bill. Or, you could buy extra standard batteries and switch them out as needed.

The problem with option 1 is there's no guarantee you will find a higher capacity battery for your rig. If you do it will be expensive. The problem with scenario 2 is if you're like me, you WILL need to change batteries at the absolute worst time to have to change a battery. It happens every time. For many cameras, to change the battery requires pulling it off the tripod and removing the tripod mounting plate. Sure, you could think to put in a fresh battery before "go-time," but when you're in the field, anytime could be "go-time." This is a serious pain, especially when you've got deer moving within range. In the past, I've just let the camera go in favor of completing my hunt. I've lost more than one filmed hunt due to this problem.

Well no more. Not wanting to drop a ton of more cash on batteries, I looked into other, outside-the-box options. My search turned up a rig that will last me eight hours with the Canon HV20/30/40 series HD video cameras.

I employed the use of a high power RC car battery for my power needs. I learned the 120 volt power cord for the camera is actually sending 9.4 volts from the transformer in the power cord to the camera. As luck would have it, some NiMH RC car batteries are made to output 9.4 volts - an exact match. Next was the matter of figuring out how much power I wanted the battery to have. I went with a 5,000 mAh battery. Some go up to 9,600 mAh and higher. This decision really comes down to how much you want to spend. My battery and charger cost me roughly $80 for both. The "high-capacity" Canon battery was well over $100 not including the charger, and I'd be lucky to get four hours out of a charge.

Next I took a 120v power cord and cut the camera end off, leaving about a foot of wire still attached to the transformer. I installed a quick-release female connector on the camera cord that fit the male connector on the battery. I then installed the same male adapter on the power cord still attached to the transformer so I could switch back and forth between 120v and battery power.

I tested everything while hunting yesterday, and it worked like a charm. I left the camera powered during the entire hunt and never ran out of battery. Now, all I need to do is make a camo sock and rig a better way to mount the external battery to the tree arm or tripod. To do this with the Canon batteries I would be looking at well over $200 and the frustration of having to change the battery when I don't want to change a battery. The other good thing here is, you can leave a regular battery in the camera so you can shoot while on the move. Then when you get set up in the tree or blind you can just plug in the external. It will work just as it would with the cord plugged in to the wall.

The only thing that didn't work like a charm was getting the deer to cooperate with me. I managed to get plenty of b-roll, however.

This is actually a pretty easy DIY solution. Most importantly, it will keep you rolling when that big buck decides he wants to make his wide-screen debut.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Free Agency




No, this post isn't about the NFL and the problems my Steelers face with their "O" line. This post is to announce my own free agency.

I've decided it's time for me to leave my current job as a photographer/writer/videographer/editor/web person/utility player at The News-Sentinel. I plan to continue working for The News-Sentinel through October and the production of our annual basketball preview section. My last day will be Nov. 6.

The newspaper afforded me some great experiences, and I've done things I most certainly wouldn't have done otherwise. But as uncertainty continues to swirl around the organization and the industry as a whole, I figure it's time to determine my own fate.

I know it will be tough in this market. Well, it's tough in any market. The key will be convincing my potential clients that I belong on their go-to list. I've got some decent clients already lined up, and I'm excited to get started working on outdoors video productions.

***Shameless plug - If you need a shooter for your editorial or commercial photo assignment Stop by RyanVisuals.com for a look at my work.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Indiana All-Stars at Parkview Field



July 9, 2011 - Fort Wayne, Ind. - Andrean graduate and Indiana North team all star Tyler Oichi hits a ground ball in the first inning of Game 2 of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North-South All-Star Series on Saturday at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind. Photo by Chad Ryan

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Unbelievable tragedy for Austin Hatch



Everybody knows someone who's dealt with tragedy in their lives. But this one is about as unbelievable a situation as they come.

I met and photographed Canterbury High School basketball player Austin Hatch earlier this year. I knew of the plane crash that claimed the lives of his mother and two siblings in 2003. He and his father survived the crash, but to me it was unimaginable to lose your family in such a manner. Now Austin will have to endure the nightmare all over again, as he and his father were involved in another plane crash, which happened this weekend near Charlevoix, Mich. This crash, however, claimed his father's and stepmother's lives and left him in a medically-induced coma, fighting for his own life.

When I met Austin I was struck by the level of humility, composure and drive exhibited by such a young man. In this age of entitled, self-important athletes, it was refreshing to meet someone with his personality. He seemed determined to point himself toward greatness.

The last time I spoke to Austin was at an AAU tourney in May. He was with his team, but not playing due to a foot injury. To me it spoke to his character that he came to an AAU tourney and sat on the bench with his team when many in his situation would spend the weekend doing, well, something other than sitting the bench. Just last week, he committed to playing for the University of Michigan basketball team under scholarship. I knew it was his desire to go to Michigan because he spoke of his ultimate goal, which was to go to medical school whether he played college ball or not. Austin said if he could go anywhere it would be Michigan. He had several major D1 schools interested, but when Michigan offered, it probably didn't take him five seconds to make the decision.

I am pulling for Austin to make it out of this, just as anyone who knows him is. For as good a basketball player as he is, he's a better kid. Many who don't know Austin are pulling for him as well. Just do a search for Austin Hatch on Twitter, and you'll see the number of people thinking of him today. He's got a tough road ahead of him, not just physically, but also emotionally. Based on my limited interactions with Austin, I'm confident if anyone can cope with such an unimaginable tragedy, it is him.

Get well soon, Austin.

Monday, May 16, 2011

15 pounds of fresh fish and a trophy


I've gone fishing all around northeast Indiana and in several places around the country. I've fished the Atlantic Ocean, and gone diving in the Pacific. I've fished Lake Eerie, but until last weekend I had never fished Lake Michigan. I guarantee it won't be my last time. I participated in the Shriner's Charity Salmon Fishing Derby out of Michigan City, Indiana, over the weekend, and I had a great time. Best of all, I put 15 pounds of fresh-caught wild king and coho salmon and steelhead trout in the freezer. The first-place trophy for biggest coho, well that was just bonus.

The fishing wasn't what I am typically interested in due to my incessant need to do everything on my own. No, this was trolling the lake for salmon. The boat captain and his mate set out all the lines, make the choice of baits and set depths. Then it's a waiting game to see when you get a fish on. So as I mentioned, I like to do everything myself, but this turned out to not be a bad way to go even for me. I realized quickly why it is a must for the captain to set everything up. If not for that, you'd have a supreme mess of tangled lines on every pass, which means there'd be no fishing at all.

Now, that's not to say there is no work on the fisherman's part. The fish still has to make it to the boat, and once there into the net. That's not a guarantee. Depending on how far out the line is and the size of the fish, you might just have a 15-30 minute fight on your hands as I did with one king salmon. Squeeze the snot out of anything for 30 minutes then tell me how your hands feel. It is work, but boy was it fun. In fact, I liked it so much I will be heading back up to go fishing with Captain Jerry Ross of Ross Fishing Charters again in a little over a week to go at 'em again.

Here's a short clip from the netting of one of my fish shot on a GoPro Hero camera. Can't wait to shoot the next video.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Vacation: Day 1



What a way to start off the vacation in Tennessee! I ventured out before sunrise this morning to photograph turkeys. I planned to be on location before first light but had a couple of setbacks that put me on the scene right at sunrise - 7:19 a.m. Despite the initial issues, I was treated to an awesome display of puffed out feathers and gobbling.



I first started out with a pair of jakes strutting and gobbling near a trio of hens. Then a tom moved in on the territory. He chased the jakes around a little bit, but there wasn't a whole lot of action. Finally, the sun peeked over the top of the Smokey Mountains, and washed the field in golden sunlight. The turkeys' feathers were ablaze. A few minutes later I decided to start hitting my brand new Ghostmaker Calls pot call, and the birds responded right away. A few minutes after that, three boss toms, who I decided to call the Three Amigos, marched over a hill and right at me with full sunlight on them. I couldn't have asked for a better set up. All told, I had five toms, three jakes and six hens close within bow range for almost two hours. I filled up an 8gb card with stills and HD video, and I plan to go back tomorrow to get more.



The only thing that could've made this morning better was to be taking one of those Three Amigos home with me. Indiana turkey season opens on April 27, and now it's going to seems like an eternity until then.

Monday, March 28, 2011

One



Mar. 27, 2011 - Fort Wayne, Ind. - Mad Ants forward Marvin Phillips, right, snatches an offensive rebound away from New Mexico's during the second half of the Mad Ants' 129-97 victory over the Thunderbirds on Sunday at Memorial Coliseum. Phillips led a group of eight Mad Ants players who scored in double digits with his 22 points and 13 rebonds, while Peterson was the game's leading scorer with 36 points. Photo by Chad Ryan.


Yep, just one from last night's Fort Wayne Mad Ants' game. Set up a camera on the shot clock for this one. Unless the Ants make the NBA D-League playoffs and they get a home game after I get back from vacation, last night's game will be my last for this season. It was another fun year, and I only wish I could've shot a few more of their games instead of three high school games a night.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Perigee Moon



Last night the moon was about the closest it ever gets to Earth. Due to that fact it appeared to be about 14 percent larger than most other full moons. According to NASA, the moon on Saturday was less than one hour away from perigee, the absolute outside edge on one side of it's elliptical orbit around Earth. This occurrence happens only once every 18 years.

I did not make the pictures I wanted to make from this event. I had just rolled back into town from a high school state championship gymnastics meet and had less than an hour to scout a location and get set up. All I knew was to look in the eastern sky. I wanted to be outside of town and shoot Fort Wayne's modest skyline with the moonrise, but I could not find an adequate elevated location that faced the east and was not blocked by trees. So I went into town and got set up for a possible shot.

Once I saw the moon creep just above the horizon, I quickly deduced my location was a bust. the moon appeared huge and red, and I thought about staying to shoot it where I was. Instead, I decided to get in the car and buzz around, looking for another spot. The goal was to shoot something in the photo to give perspective to the size of the moon. I thought I would at least get a recognizable Fort Wayne building in there, so I set up for the old standby - the Allen County Courthouse. I've shot the courthouse against a full moon before and made a nice frame of it. I didn't want to duplicate that photo, but I was out of time and had to make a picture.

If nothing else, I suppose I've got 18 years to find a better location for the next time.

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