Posting, Interrupted

Hi All,

Thanks for reading this far – it means a lot to me that this site exists and that people bother to visit.  In any case, just wanted you to know that posting will be light for the next 10 days (read: largely nonexistant) as I’ll be in Thailand.  If nothing else, I hope to bring back some good shots, so assuming my camera isn’t stolen, you can see those in a couple weeks.  Scroll down.  Visit Panorama-orama.  Read about some technique.  I’ll be right back.

Panoramania draws to a close

Panoramania draws to a close

Here is the last panorama for a while. I went out to take these for fun but next time I do it, I might actually attempt something of more artistic merit rather than a technical demonstration. This is the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. I’ve always loved the crazy Art Deco flourishes which seem fairly out of place for an Asian Art Museum. If the city is listening, it would be very much in character to repurpose it as some sort of Batman/Gotham City Museum. Paul Allen maybe? Anyway, great building. This shot is composed of only 3 or 4 source images, so the distortion is a lot lower. I’ve been experimenting with removing the distortion from the edges (stretchy Subaru, anyone?) but the tradeoff is distortion in the middle. It’s just like the projection on a map – if you want everything to be the right size, you get a globe (or in this case, some really rounded lines in the middle). If you want the lines straight in the middle, you get some stretching at the edges. Since the focal point here is in the middle, I kept the lines straight. What do you think?

Panarama-orama

Panarama-orama

With the best intentions, sometimes things can go wrong. You wanna hear about them? You know how to leave if you don’t.  In any case, this is a larger panorama strung together from about 7 images.  The camera was angled down a little bit which introduced some extra curve, which the stitching program wanted to take out.  See those warpy cars?  That kind of thing happens.  I had to spend some time punching up the blue in the sky since the sun was almost directly opposite the camera – never a great time to shoot, but hey – life gets in the way.  At the end of the day I still like this shot.  Being able to see so much detail is what this is all about.  With an original over 17,000 pixels wide, there is a lot to see.

Shooting Panoramic Pictures

Shooting Panoramic Pictures

There is something really cool about panoramic photography. All the extra visual information makes things seem much more immersive and true to life. Taking panoramic shots with your camera is pretty straightforward too, but there are a few tips – read on for more.

You don’t need any special gear to shoot a panorama, but there are a few things that will drastically improve your results and make your life easy.  If you don’t want your life to be easy, you’re all set.  If you do, you need a tripod.  Having a level, like this fun little guy that attaches to the camera hot shoe is really nice too, but optional.  Whatever you do or don’t have, follow these steps:

  1. Set your camera to manual exposure, if you’ve got it.  Look at your meter reading in the lighter and darker areas of a scene and find a setting that will work for both.  If you don’t do this and leave your camera on auto, some of the pictures will most likely be significantly lighter or darker than the rest.  Looks kinda funny.
  2. Attach your camera to the tripod and make sure you have the right knobs cranked so that you can pan smoothly across the scene.  I like using mine in vertical orientation to get a little more height in each frame.  While you’re at it, make sure things are level.  If your horizon isn’t straight, your pictures look funny.  You can fix this later, but you’ll end up cropping a bunch of your shot.
  3. Start taking pictures from one side or the other.  Pay attention to where the edges of the shot are.  You want to make sure each picture overlaps by about 25% – it will make putting them together much easier later.  Swivel the tripod or your body as smoothly as you can between shots.
  4. Once you have all the pictures on your computer, you’ll need to stitch them together.  I use The Panorama Factory (which works pretty well if you have a tripod, but in manual mode can be pretty fussy).  I’ve heard very good things about Autostitch, especially if you didn’t align things carefully.  Some cameras (the Canon Powershots, for example) come with a mode that helps you take and align panoramic pictures, but it only works when the camera is held horizontally.  Canon and possibly others also include photo stitching software but I wouldn’t recommend using it – the results from Panorama Factory are far better and I assume Autostitch would also give you a better final product.

Panoramas really only come into their own when you can display them at or nearly full size.  They make great prints for that reason.   If you’re looking for a picture with extra impact, panoramas might do the job.

Colorado Fireworks

Colorado Fireworks

You can’t buy fireworks in Seattle. On the reservations, yes, but not in Seattle. When I was in Denver, it turned out they sell fireworks, but if you want the *good* ones, you need an out of state license, registration, and destination. I’m in love with the “someone else’s problem” aspect – they don’t care if they’re legal where you’re going, as long as it isn’t Colorado. Anyway, I was registration-less, so crummy fireworks it was. The little ones are actually great for taking pictures of. They stay mostly in the same place so you know where to point your camera, and you can get really close, so the picture is different from the big sky shots you often see of professional fireworks. Although the scene will be dark, fireworks are bright enough that you don’t need too much equipment, or even a very long exposure.  I got these at 1/5 sec handheld.  The camera shake works out ok since the fireworks are moving too.   Take a lot of pictures – you never know what you’ll get!
  • ApertureValue: f/4
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2007:12:01 19:45:20
  • ExposureTime: 1/5 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 40 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 400
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

Industrial Intrusions in Seattle

Industrial Intrusions in Seattle

The north end of Myrtle Edwards Park in Seattle abuts one of the remaining industrial sites in the area. What is it? Some sort of silo and conveyor system. My friends and I speculate wheat and corn. We have no idea. I love the stark lines and the fact you can actually see some working industry right next to the biotechs and stoners on the waterfront.
  • ApertureValue: f/11
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:08:16 12:12:42
  • ExposureTime: 1/250 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 24 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 100
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT

The Ever-Wily Black Flag

The Ever-Wily Black Flag

“And here we see the reclusive Black Flag, in it’s natural habitat.”

Seriously though, the Zoo is a great place for pictures of almost everything, even when there are no animals around. I loved the lines and silhouette of this fence. I just keep staring at the picture, and I think it’s because it reminds me of something. Whatever it is, I like.

  • ApertureValue: f/7.1
  • DateTimeOriginal: 2008:12:16 15:24:54
  • ExposureTime: 1/640 sec
  • Flash: No Flash
  • FocalLength: 100 mm
  • ISOSpeedRatings: 200
  • Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT