Blog entries tagged with "photography"

Playing with panorama

Sunday, May 16th, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Every so often when out taking photos I will take a series of shots with the intention of combining them into a panorama.

A few months ago I submitted the following image at the camera club as a landscape:

From Mount Worth

A couple of people commented that a panorama from the same spot may have been better. As it turns out, I had taken a series of shots from a short distance away:

From Mount Worth (panorama)

This was the result of feeding four images into AutoStitch, copying over some EXIF data (camera model, exposure, GPS) and then straightening and cropping in Lightroom.

The AutoStitch interface is a bit clunky, but it at least didn’t crash and/or hang when trying to save the output, which is what Microsoft ICE was doing.

I also created some other panoramas. Two from the same day as Mount Worth, of open cut coal mines:

Loy Yang Open Cut (panorama)

Yallourn Open Cut (panorama)

Then two from the walk up Mount Kosciuszko:

North from Kosciuszko (panorama)

Australian Alps (panorama)

The effort needed to create these was quite small, while the result is quite acceptable. I have been told that I could get an even better result from the stiching tool within PhotoShop, but I don’t use PhotoShop.

Once I work out an acceptable/affordable method of printing images larger than 8×12″, I will consider submitting a panorama as a competition entry.

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Experimenting with macro

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 at 9:57 pm

At the camera club last night we were discussing macro. After a discussion on what macro is and the various ways of achieving it (macro lens, extension tubes, a close up lens, reversing the lens, etc) we broke out and started to shoot the variety of items that were brought along.

I don’t have a macro lens, but I was able to borrow a set of Kenko extension tubes which I used with my 50mm lens. I didn’t keep many shots from the night, but I started out shooting a Dandelion clock lit by an external light:

Parachutes

With the extension tubes using autofocus was pointless so I switched to manual and focused by moving the entire camera back and forth. I also quickly switched to using and off camera flash (triggered by an ST-E2 so I had TTL)

Dandelion clock

However, I found that shooting the flash through the object from below gave more interesting results:

Clock lit from below Feather
Tiny flower Open the pod bay doors, HAL

Although these are quite interesting and deserve further experimentation, my favourite shot was more conventionally lit:

Mmmm... Gooey.

Of course to experiment further I will need some more equipment. While I cannot justify an actual macro lens, a set of Kenko extension tubes are quite affordable…

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Two ways to shoot star trails

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Last weekend a couple of us from the camera club went down to Wilsons Promontory. Apart from shooting landscapes of the coastlines and beaches, the sunset from Whisky Bay, we also shot some star trails.

The first method I tried was new to me: shoot a number of 30 second exposures and then combine them later using software.

With my camera in continuous shooting and set at 17mm, f/4, 30 seconds and ISO1600 I locked down the shutter button on my cable release and left the camera alone for a while. By locking down the button (and having long exposure noise reduction off) the camera would keep going until I stopped it, the battery went flat or the card filled up.

My third attempt of the night resulted in 70 images, which when run through the Startrails application gave me this:

Tidal River star trails (70 x 30 seconds)

If you look closely you can see that the trails are not smooth lines, and that I should have been able to setup the camera better.

A bit later in the night we moved down to Tidal River itself where I switched back to the traditional single long exposure. I took two shots (this time at ISO100), one for 10 minutes and another for 17 minutes. This is the 17 minute one:

Tidal River star trails (17 minutes)

As I was doing such a long exposure I turned the noise reduction back on. Which meant that this 17 minute exposure needed a second 17 minute exposure. Coincidentally a total time of 35 minutes, the same as 70 x 30 seconds.

Next time I’m shooting star trails, I am going to go with the multiple exposures.

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Sunset from Beacon Cove

Sunday, February 21st, 2010 at 9:07 pm

On Friday night the Waverley Camera Club met up at Beacon Cove (aka near Station Pier) for a night shoot.

As we sat on the boardwalk eating fish and chips the sky quickly changed through:

Sunset at Beacon Cove (01)

Sunset at Beacon Cove (02)

Sunset at Beacon Cove (12)

Sunset at Beacon Cove (18)

Sunset at Beacon Cove (21)

Sunset from Beacon Cove

My final selection of 21 photos are all in the Flickr set. They may look a bit repetitive – there are only so many different shots of a sunset – but this has been thinned down a lot.

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Catching the ISS go by

Monday, February 15th, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Earlier in the evening I stood outside on the front lawn in the dark for about half an hour. The result was this:

ISS over Melbourne

That is my first ever shot of the International Space Station passing overhead.

For a while I have been wanting to capture a shot of the ISS, yet I either didn’t find out about a visible pass, or I found out too late. This is despite knowing about the excellent Heavens-Above which lets you enter your location, and it will tell you whatever you want to know about objects in the sky. You can get a whole sky chart (which I looked up for the WCC star trails attempt earlier in the year) or a list of when an object such as the ISS is making a visible pass. This time I have a timely tweet from Wolf Cocklin to thank.

Now, the photo above isn’t that great as shots of the night sky go (a Flickr search for ‘iss’ returns impressive images), but for a shot taken from suburban Melbourne with plenty of light pollution, I am happy with it.

The actual pass was quite short so I took a few test shots so I would know what setttings to use, plus

As I didn’t know exactly where in the sky the ISS would appear or what it would actually look like to the naked eye, I first took a few test shots before aiming the camera up and to the south-southwest. The tests can be seen in the ISS visible pass (15 February 2010) Flickr set.

As there are other visible passes of the ISS for the next week I will attempt to catch it again, weather permitting.

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What happened to January?

Monday, February 1st, 2010 at 10:17 am

Today is the first of February and I have realised that for the first time since I started blogging in September 2003 that I have gone for an entire month (ie January) without making a post.

That does not mean I haven’t been doing anything.

In fact it is the opposite as January was, for me, quite busy. Now, although I haven’t written any blog posts, those who follow me on identi.ca, twitter or facebook would be aware of at least some of what I have done.

The highlights:

Amongst all of this I have scanned thousands of slides (my parent’s from the 60/70s) and made decent headway into sorting through my own backlog of photos (which increased markedly due to the Snowy Mountains road trip). I should be able to start posting some of the latter (starting with the club outing to Mount Macedon back in July) later in the week.

I hope.

In addition I have a couple of semi-formed blog posts that I should get around to completing, one that is still fresh in my mind is how something that I was relying upon for backups, is actually dangerous to use for backups. I should also have one of those published by the end of the week and I will also try to post on a more regular basis.

I promise.

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A smaller, more portable tripod

Monday, August 10th, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Don’t get me wrong, I am quite happy with my Manfrotto 190PROXB tripod with 486RC2 ball head that I have had since last November, but since the last camera outing I have been thinking about other options.

The tripod is excellent when I have used it for table top stuff at home (or the camera club) and on outings where I know that I will use it and there is an option of leaving it somewhere. But what about when I am doubtful that I will use it and/or I will have to carry it with me all of the time.

An example of the former is the third Melbourne Photo Walk where I carried my tripod for the entire walk because I knew that afterwards I would be taking some long exposures afterwards. While on the recent camera club outing to Melbourne’s laneways and arcades I decided before I left home that I would not take the tripod, which proved to be the right decision.

Even so, there where a couple of times that a tripod would have been good. So I have been looking at a Joby Gorillapod, specifically (due to the weight of my camera) the SLR-Zoom.

Although it wouldn’t fit in my current bag (a Lowepro SlingShot 100AW) I should be able to attach the SLR-Zoom to the outside without it getting in the way. But there is still a problem, how do I attach it to the camera.

Despite the marketing images, the SLR-Zoom only has a flat top with the thread attachment. The pictured ball head is an additional purchase which almost doubles the price from US$50 to US$95. Even then I wouldn’t be able to attach it to my camera, as I always leave the RC2 plate attached. So this gives me two options:

The 484RC2 will probably be the most cost effective option, and I regret now selling the one I had for a few months last year. Oh well, I should be able to get another one.

There is also plenty of discussion around using the Gorillapod, the Gorillapod Love Flickr pool for one with some examples of the 484RC2 in use.

In addition to holding the camera, the Gorillapod could also come in handy for holding my external flash. I could simply attach the foot that came with the flash to the second RC2 plate…

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My “nifty fifty”

Monday, December 8th, 2008 at 10:59 pm

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens that I bought secondhand arrived today. From a quick test it appears quite nice.

I also took the opportunity to take a photo of my current lenses, ie the three that I keep in my camera bag:

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8, EF 50mm f/1.8 and EF-S 17-85mm IS lenses

These are the 28mm I got back in May, the “nifty fifty”, and the 17-85mm IS I got in March.

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Photos from OSDC2008

Sunday, December 7th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

I have just finished sorting through my photos from the conference and have uploaded the better ones to Flickr in a set for each day:

Almost all of them are of people in between the talks or in the evening at the dinner or at various pubs.

The photos I took of presenters as they were presenting didn’t come out the best, the 50mm f/1.8 would have been very nice. Despite this I am glad that I resisted the impluse to go and buy one as I ended up being the winning bidder for a secondhand one, at half the retail price.

Of all of the photos, this one requires to be singled out:

Paul dressed up for his talk

I have a lot more other photos from Sydney. I should be able to sort through them soon.

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OSDC2008 begins

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 at 2:34 pm

It’s now part of the way through the first day of the conference (ignoring the pre-conference hackathon which sounded interesting, but I have heard that a laptop was essential) and it is going quite well. My tiredness from yesterday aside.

I have been taking a few photos but I’m finding that this is another situation where my 17-85mm isn’t fast enough and my 28mm is too wide. There is a Ted’s down the street and they do have a 50mm in stock. I’m tempted.

Tonight is the conference dinner and the 28mm will be better for that.

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Eight hours of walking and photos

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008 at 10:53 pm

My journey to Sydney ended at 2PM when I checked into the hotel. After a brief rest I walked around the corner to the conference venue and registered instead of waiting until tomorrow morning.

Then I started walking … and didn’t stop until 10PM.

I had a bridge climb scheduled for 5PM so I first spent a couple of hours walking down there. Via parks (eg Hyde Park and the botanical gardens) to the opera house, taking photos as I went.

Then there was the actual bridge climb which is 3.5 hours long.

As it was dark by the time I left the bridge climb I spent some time taking night shots with my tripod around Dawes Point (under the bridge) and Circular Quay.

This was topped off by walking back to the hotel.

My feet aren’t quite happy. But the climb was worth it and I’ll find out about the photos once I get then off the camera.

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An Apple IIc with LCD (and another tripod)

Thursday, November 27th, 2008 at 10:07 pm

A big box was waiting for me when I got home tonight. It contained this:

Latest addition: Apple IIc with LCD, battery pack and carry bag

Yes, the latest addition to my collection is another Apple IIc. But this one includes the elusive LCD screen, an external battery and a carry bag for it all.

I keep putting off sorting through my collection and my current plan is to (when I get around to it) focus on specific items. This is one of them.

However, there wasn’t just one box waiting for me. After my dissatisfaction with my tripod at the WCC outing I was looking at eBay for a current model tripod and a 486RC2 head. On impluse I tried the ‘make an offer’ feature on an eBay listing and it (specifically a 190XPROB tripod) was accepted. That is what was in the second box.

Unfortunately I was a bit too enthusiastic as before I made an offer for this tripod and head, I had placed a bid for the same tripod, but just the base. As I expected the price to go above my max I wasn’t concerned. But I ended up winning it, by AU$1. So who wants to buy a tripod? Either an old but as-new 190 or a brand new 190XPROB… there is also the 484RC2 head… (I am confident that I will be able to make my money back by listing them back on eBay)

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