Let it snow
by Bc Hannold ·
It looks like we will be getting a fair amount here today and tomorrow. It has been snowing since I got into town at 9:30 am, and the forecast calls for a 1 to 2 inch accumulation, although it seems pretty warm for that. I don’t think we will hit freezing until around 7 or 8 PM. Newfound Gap though should be getting a good coating, with 1-4 inches today, 1 to 3 tonight, and 1-2 tomorrow. Naturally the road is closed, but I am hoping they will get it open tomorrow so I can get up there and do some shooting. If not I’ll have to stick with the lower elevations and see what I can get. I would love to get some winter panoramic shots done. I finished working on an 4x3Hdr vertical panoramic of Mouse Creek Falls. A client is looking for print to go with the Ramsey’s Cascade shot, and that will most likely be the best bet. It was shot a couple weeks ago so the vegetation is not crowding out the rocks on the waterfall, and it has a little more of the cascade effect as well. So a crop of the top half of the falls will work well for a 24×36 print. The full size print will run about 24×50 when I print it on Canvas. The Enfuse HDR handled the blending pretty well. I’ve still got detail in the waterfall highlights, and can balance the tones so that the detail in the shadows will come out as well. These shots do take a while to process on the computer though. They suck the memory dry in no time. I built a system with 2 AMD Opteron Dual Core processors with 4GB DDR2 memory. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to get the 4GB switch to work on this machine so I am stuck with XP’s native 3GB limit. I haven’t prioritized the programs for specific processors, I let windows do the choosing. This works pretty well, I rarely max out the CPU’s, and load stays balanced between the 4 cpu’s. I get killed on memory however. I was trying to save time last night and was doing a crop in photoshop on a 1.5 GB image, while running a 15 shot HDR Enfuse blending. This was requiring 4.8 GB of memory, so went to watch TV while it plugged and chugged. It completed processing on both images, and I didn’t get the photoshop/version cue kiss of death that I get when trying to photomerge too many images, so I was happy about that. One thing about enfuse is that it only outputs jpeg or tiff files. I never work with jpeg if possible, so I output tiffs when using enfuse. I’m shooting a Canon 1DS Mark II so my raw files are usually from 14 to 18 MB, after an Enfuse blend the resulting Tiff is always a constant 129 MB. So when I photomerge the files in Photoshop, it chokes if I try to do somewhere between 5 and 10 of the blended Tiffs. When I did my 10 shot Pano, I had to first merge the left 5 shots, then right shots, and then merge the two together. They are just finishing one the worlds fastest computers out at Oak Ridge called the Kraken. Its measured in the petaflop range. Seems like not long a teraflop was the holy grail. Anyway I may have check into buying time on their system to process some of these images. Anyway, it is worth the extra work. I like the results I’m getting, although I’m going to start testing photomatix for the HDR and see if it has something I can’t live without. I’m looking forward to the spring so I can try some wide angle macro panoramics of the flowers along the river.
I’m no expert but these are some of the more critical factors I found for shooting the panos.
The camera must be level throughout the arc of the shots. I use a hot shoe bubble level to level the camera, and after I have the camera leveled I sweep it through the angles that I will be shooting and make sure it stays level. Of course for this to happen the tripod must be level as well. It is important to have a tripod head that you can lock down the vertical access on, so that the head only move horizontally. I like the effects I get more when I am shooting closer to prime. 50mm for my camera. Zooms work fine, but merging wide angle shots with the distortion does not yield great results for me. For vertical panoramics I put the center column on the tripod horizontally, so that I can lock down the head so that it will only move on the vertical plane. I’ve found that if I can get level with halfway up the subject the results work a lot better. Shooting a vertical pano of a waterfall from its base can distort the upper shots too much. So I like to get back further and use my 100-400 zoom, usually around 100mm. I try to overlap the shots by about 10 to 20% roughly, so that photoshop has enough to work with when aligning the images. Anyway I have a lot of fun experimenting. So get out and give it a try.
Unfortunately I didn’t bring my skis into town today. It would be a great day to close the shop early and check out the slope here. I haven’t tried this one yet. It would be nice to catch some real snow.
Have a great day and keep on clicking!