Tag Archives: GoPro

First images and impressions: introducing Camille Olive Tobin

Camille emerging from the womb
Camille emerging from the womb in a screenshot from GoPro video

We welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Camille Olive Tobin, into the world on May 10, less than an hour before the start of Mother’s Day.

The two weeks since have been super-busy as we care for this precious newborn, so I haven’t had time to post anything about the birth or our first days as parents, but so far we’re all doing great.

Labor came on quickly on a Saturday evening as a major snowstorm started to pound Colorado. Things seemed to be moving swiftly toward a routine delivery . . . until the baby’s heartbeat began to falter and the the doctor decided to perform a C-section. It turned out the umbilical cord had been wrapped around Camille‚Äôs leg like a Roman sandal.

The urgent C-section was terrifying, beautiful, painful, fascinating, messy, exhilarating, traumatic, awesome. It’s something I’d like to write about more. I recorded the whole thing with my GoPro camera, so I’m also working on a video piece about the beginning of parenthood.

As soon as Ginette went into labor, I started shooting a ton of still photos as well. As expected, Camille’s arrival is impelling me to document this pivotal moment in our lives, in part for her benefit when she’s older, but also to share the experience with family and friends.

Below is a slideshow of hospital photos from a gallery I created on Smugmug (this feature may not work via email browsers, so you can also go here for the images).

Nearly all of the photos I took in the hospital were captured on my iPhone. During the labor and C-section, I wore a GoPro video camera on my head. This turned out to be a great set-up because it freed both of my hands. I was able to shoot photos with the iPhone, caress Ginette’s head during the operation, and push Camille in her crib through the hospital corridors without having to fumble with the video camera.

GoPro mounted on the head is great for filming baby
GoPro mounted on the head is great for filming baby

Filming the birth was important to me, but I didn’t want it to become a distraction or disruption. Psychologically, I found it helpful to have something to do with all the nervous energy in my body. As a seemingly normal delivery became an unplanned C-section, the personal photojournalism became a sort of coping mechanism. It felt as if I was back to being a reporter, charged with adrenaline and with the task of capturing as much detail as possible during a breaking news event. In this case, however, my main job responsibility was to support Ginette without getting in the way of the doctors and nurses.

Decades from now, if Camille is ever giving birth, her partner may be recording the whole thing through eyeglasses or a mini camera embedded in an earlobe. In 2014, the GoPro proved ideal for the assignment. Sans plastic case, it’s small enough to fit in the pocket of your jeans. The wide-angle lens, which is great for filming skiing and mountain biking, was perfect for capturing the close action of the birth and aftermath. Blurring the line between video and photo, I’ve gone through the footage from the GoPro and created still images, such as the one below, about a minute after Camille was pulled from the womb.

Screenshot from GoPro video, about 1 minute after Camille's birth.
Screenshot from GoPro video, about 1 minute after Camille’s birth.

Five or ten years ago, I would have been taking notes about the birth on a reporter’s pad, scribbling indecipherable chicken scratch and thinking way faster than my fingers could move. Words are still important to me. After Camille’s birth, I tapped away on my laptop, trying to capture thoughts, memories, and emotions before they were lost to time. In order for me to process this momentous and somewhat traumatic event, I will need to write about it. But I’m so glad I kept the video rolling and fired off so many photos while we were at the hospital. No matter how much I write, or how well I can recollect the episode and emotions in words, without capturing those still and moving images, the experience would have felt incomplete.

Recording story of Camille's birth for posterity.
Recording the story of Camille’s birth for posterity.

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Prepartum pedaling video: mountain biking on the due date

Our due date was Monday, May 5, but with Ginette showing no signs of going into labor, I managed to sneak in one more mountain bike ride at Centennial Cone Park.

Below is a video of some highlights of my ride in the mountains west of Golden.

Prepartum pedaling from Mitch Tobin on Vimeo.

I had fun playing around with different camera angles and especially like the rear-view perspective. I feel like the video exaggerates my speed and makes it seem like the ride is more dangerous than it really is. Conversely, GoPro videos of skiing sometimes understate my speed and the steepness of the terrain. I think this is because snow usually looks more uniform than a mountain bike trail, especially to a wide-angle lens placed near the ground.
Centennial Cone Park

Centennial Cone Park has become a favorite because it offers lots of smooth singletrack relatively close to Denver. The nearest of the three trailheads is only a 30-35 minute drive from my house, but the park has a surprisingly wild, backcountry feel.

My route involved climbing up from Clear Creek and U.S. 6 on the Mayhem Gulch trail, then riding the main loop clockwise on the Juniper, Elk Range, and Travois trails. There’s a double-track section on Elk Range Trail, but otherwise it’s all well-maintained singletrack that never gets too rocky.

This ride features several sets of switchbacks and some taxing climbs (nearly 3,000 feet over the 17.4-mile route), but the rolling nature of the elevation profile prevents the uphills from seeming interminable.
Centennial Cone switchback
The route offers some impressive views of Clear Creek Canyon and the Front Range. I saw some of the first wildflowers of the season and also plenty of prickly pear. Even at nearly 8,000 feet, it’s still fairly dry on the lee side of the Continental Divide, so the vegetation tends to be sparse.

Centennial Cone prickly pear
Centennial Cone is popular enough that mountain biking on weekends is restricted to even-numbered days (hikers are only allowed on odd-numbered weekend days). This loop ride covers nearly the entire trail network of the 3,369-acre park, so we’re not talking about a huge area that you can endlessly explore. But compared to some other nearby mountain bike rides in the Front Range, Centennial Cone’s trails are less rocky, technical, and difficult.

With a baby about to arrive, it may be a while until I’m back at Centennial Cone, but I’m glad my next ride there won’t be too far away, in time or distance.

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Pineapple Express ski videos

Over the past two months, Colorado has been slammed by three waves of warm, wet storms that dumped snow measured in feet across the state’s northern and central mountains. These atmospheric rivers are nicknamed the Pineapple Express because they transport subtropical moisture from around Hawaii to the Western United States, as shown in this National Weather Service graphic:

Pineapple Express
Source: National Weather Service

The animation below illustrates the last of the atmospheric river events. The map doesn’t show what happens on land, but this depiction of water vapor gives you a sense of what’s transpiring.

Atmospheric river
Animation of atmospheric river event, February 2014. (Source: NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division)

Good things happen, from my perspective, when the jet stream taps the Pacific Ocean and plows it into the Continental Divide. A couple of weeks ago, I skied at Monarch Mountain after 118 inches–nearly 10 feet–had fallen in the prior 14 days. In the shot below (click to enlarge), I would guesstimate the snow drift was 15 feet tall right along the Divide.

Snow drifts atop Continental Divide at Monarch Mountain. Photo by Mitch Tobin.
Snow drift atop Continental Divide at Monarch Mountain. Photo by Mitch Tobin.

Here’s a video I filmed during my day at Monarch, where I’ve been able to ski for free this year in abundance thanks to the perks of annual passes at Loveland and Copper/Winter Park.

118″ at Monarch from Mitch Tobin on Vimeo.

The atmospheric rivers haven’t been enough to overcome California’s epic drought. In Colorado, the San Juan Mountains have been bypassed by some of this moisture. But most of Colorado’s ski areas are enjoying one of their best seasons in years.

Here’s a video I shot with my buddy Forrest at Loveland Ski Area, which includes some of my best impressions of farm animals during the walk under the I-70 tunnel.

Loveland Jan 30 2014 from Mitch Tobin on Vimeo.

I had fun with these two videos, but there’s no story, so I decided to create a clip with some narration and a narrative. The video below, filmed at Copper and Winter Park, includes cameos by friends Pat and Diane.

Rocky Mountain Way from Mitch Tobin on Vimeo.

I flexed some new video muscles with this last piece, though it did require a fair bit of time to record and time the narration. My goal was to create a 90-second video with about 30 clips averaging 3 seconds each.

In addition to skiing/snowboarding as much as I can before becoming a father, I’m trying to improve my video skills (see more clips here). I’ve found the only way to do all of this while maintaining a full-time job is to combine the alpine exploits with the filming. It’s the editing that takes forever, and it’s not nearly as fun as pushing the start button on the GoPro camera and then carving turns down the mountain.