Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DMOutdoors: Documenting the Adventures - 100th Post!

I never imagined having an outdoor blog where I would go on adventures on most weekends and share them with the hiking community and the world, basically. Never did I imagine I would write and publish 100 posts, mostly trip reports. This post is my 100th published post to DMOutdoors! For the occasion, I thought I would share a little more in detail about what I do to document my adventures besides writing them out and putting words next to pictures. As much as it is for my own personal keepsake, there's also something cool to me about coming back home and trying to write a trip report people will remember. My 4th post ever, titled Filming In the Outdoors, which was posted in November of 2010, was a brief post about me shooting videos in the outdoors, and early thoughts as I had just picked up this hobby. That was then, and this is now....

That Olympus Tough 8000 I was using had been lost in the mountains over a year ago (I still want to try to find it, and have attempted once already since the memory card should survive forever inside), but I had since purchased the next model up a couple of months after that (TG-810), and it still works like new, and is what I'm using now. It shoots 14MP photos and 720P HD video. In addition to that camera, I have a GoPro Hero2 (Outdoors Edition) which takes photos and HD Video in up to 1080p. For both cameras, I always carry two batteries.

The Olympus TG-810 is completely waterproof and shockproof, just like the previous model. It can sustain falls to granite rocks, scraping on ledges, and it shoots underwater videos without a worry of it getting ruined (as long as the door is shut properly, of course). It does still lose battery in cold weather, though. I most often carry this camera in my pocket and use it for point-and-shoot photos for the duration of any of my adventures. I will use the self-timer on this camera a lot, but have found myself taking more self-timed shots using the GoPro, especially at summits and in good lighting. Any photos in low light are done with the Olympus because it has a flash. I used the Olympus camera for my photos and videos in my Tuckerman Ravine climb....I wish I had the GoPro for that one...
Using Olympus TG-810 on Monopod - Whiteface ledges
From underwater in the Pemi River - (swimming after Bonds hike)
The GoPro camera is an amazing piece of equipment. Each adventure, I find myself coming home with 500+ photos, and along with the videos over 10+ GB of media to go through between my two cameras. This might explain why it takes almost a week to bring you the trip reports. The features I use the most on the GoPro are the video function, photo function, and timer photo function. I've yet to play around with some of the additional functions. The video angle can be changed to wide, medium, and narrow. My Winter Presidential Traverse video was shot using the medium angle (it was my first time using it), and most of my recent videos after were using the wide angle. The wide angle is best used for video recording (and photos) above tree-line and when expansive or dramatic views are present, and the medium angle is best  for in the trees and always under good light. One of the other cool things is the ability to mute the beeping with the button-presses. This is good if you're going to be around other hikers, and its also good to have it ON in the winter, or when you can't see the screen to see the function you're on. Its a learned practice - three beeps from Video to Self-timer and three beeps back to Video. I use a 32GB SDcard in my GoPro (and carry much more), so when I fill that up, you know its an epic adventure.
GoPro Chest Harness on Solo Presidential Traverse 
Glissading the South Slide of the Tripyramids GoPro head strap mount
Using the GoPro sticky mount on Gardner Pond, Northern Maine
Photo quality on the GoPro can be changed between 11MP, 8MP, and 5MP and wide or medium angles. When I'm above treeline or there are views, and I'm not shooting video, I'm likely using the GoPro to snap photos. For the regular photo function, you push the button and about one second later it snaps the picture. The timer function on the GoPro is its best feature, I believe. I can set the camera down and have it take photos every 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds. When I'm on a ridge line, I might hold the camera and swing it left to right (as if I was video recording), but really it's snapping a photo every two seconds. I bet many of these pictures I could go back later and make some amazing panoramic photos (which I am AWFUL at doing in the field with my Olympus). This timer function is how I've gotten some of my favorite photos, including on Mt. Whitney'. At the same time, I end up with hundreds of random, unplanned shots like the one below - most of which I don't include in my online albums.
Timer function on - random awesome photo from summit of Mt. Whitney
Morning start 
Afternoon finish
Occasionally, I like to capture a video or action photo of my passing by on the trail, such as I did above Tuckerman Ravine, after I reached the top of it, or recently on Franconia Ridge, I did it twice. This adds a change to some of my videos to break up the point-of-view angle. Yes, this requires me to go back and get the camera sometimes. I've done this in the middle of summer and also below freezing during my solo winter Presidential Traverse. Check out the video below, I made specially for this post. This video has several clips of the raw footage from some of the times I recorded a clip for fun. Some of this video you might recognize, but will see parts that were cut out, and some you haven't seen before. Subtitles will tell you about the clip.

So what do I use to mount my cameras? Well, since I started hiking, I've used a few different items to do just that. Mostly, I've used a Joby Gorillapod Original tripod. These are awesome for use with both the Olympus Tough and Go-Pro cameras (or any camera with a screw mount), and cost $20 each at many electronic and outdoor retailers. Although I am not certain its the cause, I've seemed to have bad luck in cold weather with the Original-sized Joby tripods both regular and the Magnetic model ($25). I've gone through about four Originals and one Magnetic since I started hiking, and they have all broken (mostly in winter) except  for my newest one. One of them is still somewhat usable if I wanted, but its shortened. The magnetic model is awesome because it sticks magnetically to most rocks, and was slightly more durable than the original. This is perfect for windy summits. Currently, I am no longer using an original sized tripod, and recently upgraded to the Joby Gorillapod Hybrid, which is heavier duty than the Original, and also comes with an attached level. It has a ball-head for flexible movement when already mounted, unlike the original size. With the tripod, I can place it on a rock or tree with ease to capture a view or me passing by. I can also still secure this larger tripod to my pack strap, where it is not perfectly comfortable, but its do-able as an alternative to the GoPro head strap or chest harness, if I so choose. I am waiting to see how long the Hybrid model tripod holds up this winter. If it cracks in the cold weather, I'll be looking into some sort of flexible and wearable tripod that won't bust under frigid conditions.
GoPro on Joby Gorillapod Hybrid - strapped to pack strap - Mt. Whitney
On some adventures, I've used an xShot 2.0 extending monopod. Although I use it much less than I did when I first picked it up, it packs the best. Its good for shooting video of the trail in front of you, but sometimes the scratching, extending, and clicking of handling the monopod comes up on the videos. The provided screw loosens easily on its own. For holding the camera out in front of me for video, the larger Joby Hybrid tripod is rubber and doesn't make any noise. For this reason, I only bring the extending monopod on certain adventures.
Recording the adventure on Moosilauke
xShot monopod with mounted GoPro on North Slide of Tripramid
Lastly, I recently picked up a lightweight monopod trekking pole. I used this during my climb of Mt. Whitney, and it actually worked great. I don't normally use trekking poles, but on certain hikes, I might pack one pole just in case, and this one is it, since its lighter than any one of my other trekking poles, and serves two purposes instead of one. You will see it in this video (only 1min) from Mt. Whitney.

There you have it! - a behind the scenes look at how I capture just about every adventure. 

As this is my 100th post, I would like thank all of my readers, and Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube followers! Your comments are always so kind and appreciated. I remember when I first started, I would look at the stats and be excited that I got 100 hits in a month. The last month that DMOutdoors had less than 1000 hits was October 2011, nearly a year ago. For the last 4 months in a row, there have been over 2,000 hits per month. It only makes me want to go climb more peaks and do more crazy adventures! Thanks!!!!!


  1. The pics in this post tell a story themselves...lots of adventures. Keep it up.

  2. Nice stuff as always Dan. Congrats on post 100! Your blog is one of my favorites. Thanks for all the info. on the GoPro Hero II. I was considering getting one, and I think you've sold me on it. I like your Franconia video. Awesome stuff. Also the Knife Edge.

    Keep up the great trips.

    1. Mike - Thank you so much, I'm pleased and thankful to hear that. I bet you liked the photo of the GoPro on the kayak. Its definitely been worth the cost already and its fun. I haven't even posted the Whitewater rafting videos from my camera yet.

  3. I am a huge fan of your videos. I think they really show the best of New England hiking. Congrats on your 100 too! Keep on doing what you are doing!

    1. Thank you so much. I have many more videos I've yet to play around with. After I did this post, I was watching more of them. If I could just get better software and time to do it all!

  4. Dan - it's been so much fun following your adventures since the very beginning. Hitting the 100 post landmark is fantastic. The blog keeps getting better and the addition of video to your accounts has been awesome. The best part of course are the adventures themselves. Great stuff! Here's to the next 100. Hope we can get out there and share the trail with you for some of them.


    1. Thanks Mark! It's fun for me to write it. In fact, it seems like I'm starting to have even more fun with it. I should have the next 100 posts in no time with my plans this fall and winter. I'll keep you posted on the plans, would love to share a hike with you and Nat soon.

  5. Very cool - I love how you're bringing more of the outdoors to the blog with the variety of photos, plus videos. Some times it is hard to describe a place unless you have some pictures or video to go with it. Congrats on post 100!

    1. Thank you! It's a little extra effort, but I think it gives readers just a slightly more real feel to the hike they just read about. Congrats again to you and Cameron on your NH48 completion!

  6. Congratulations on your 100th post! It was indeed quite an adventure. I am really glad for the share. Thanks!