Now that school has started bearing down hard, I feel the very least I should attempt to do is give you guys a weekly update; still, the amounts of free time I can muster up on the weekends in-between other photography assignments is slim! Speaking of photography assignments, I’ve been getting a TON lately with the full onset of the Fall season. The trees have turned and are losing their leaves, days and nights are getting colder, and the familiar holidays are fast approaching.
Last year at Transylvania University, we started an event called “Pumpkin Mania”, where anybody and everybody on campus (and in the community) could come and carve a pumpkin however simply or intricately they pleased. We ended up with hundreds of these small carved pieces of art (some more-so than others!), and put them on display on the steps of the iconic Old Morrison building with its towering, wide front steps.
Continuing the occasion to this year, these pumpkins are lit every night the week before Halloween by small, connected lightbulbs, and produce an intense warm glow in the surrounding area. Inevitably, this draws quite a crowd from surrounding communities!
Tasked with photographing the ongoing event, I wanted to do something special and create ultra-high resolution panoramas with my 105mm f/1.8 AI-s. Why a telephoto? Well, something I’ve found out in my (extremely) limited experience with panoramas is that the longer the lens you have, the less perspective distortion you get (a.k.a. a flat field) when combining exposures, making it easy to stitch multiple frames together with little to no fuss. This flat field also gives the photograph an almost-surrealistic look (like looking at a real-life blueprint) once all the lines are corrected.
In my situation, I needed to get a special angle on the pumpkins to obtain a completely flat field. In order to do this, I loaned out an unstable 10-foot ladder. This created massive camera shake due to the height and vibrations from my body attempting to hold myself (and my folded-up tripod) to the ladder…in the wind. Lucky for me (and my work), it rained the first night the pumpkins were lit. This gave me two advantages. For one, there weren’t many people around to mess with my exposures. But more importantly, I could get a reflection from the street below, effectively doubling the wonderful orange glow. Below is the first result. Had I been truly focused, I would have realized to move the signs and traffic cones out-of-the-way, but I’m still pleased with the result. This panorama is the combination of 6 frames using the Pandora plugin for GIMP (yes, I’m too cheap for Photoshop).
The day the clouds held back their rain, the public then poured out to see this soon-to-be annual sight, bringing with them their little ones all excited for our very own trick-or-treat tables. Some came in full or halfway-proper trick-or-treat dress…
…while others were…
After shooting the above-shown panorama, I had a feeling the final result wouldn’t technically be up to snuff—blown up to printing-size, noise is noticeable, and there is but the slightest of motion blur (keep in mind I was shooting at 1/25th on a 105mm lens). So, for a back-up, I decided to try one more panorama on a little more stable a platform: in this case, solid ground. Obviously this presented the problem of an uneven field (especially when trying to combine the top steps), but after a few hours of work I have ended up with a panorama I can’t wait to print big. REAL big. I’m talking at least 10×30 inches. This file, in its original form, is over ONE-HUNDRED MEGAPIXELS (you heard right, I’m 1/10th the way towards my first gigapixel photograph!).Since I was shooting on the ground, I could keep the ISO to a noise-free 100, and stop the lens down to f/8 without a worry for camera shake. Obviously, below is a downsized version.
But my panoramic adventures do not end there, for one final send-off on this unabashedly Fall-centric post, I made another stitched photograph about a week ago of a commons area full of changing trees. I missed peak color by a few days (unfortunately, some were losing most of their leaves), but it was still a fun exercise in panoramic work. This one was a particular challenge in that I had to lean my tripod out a window to “get everything in”. In the process, I had to contend with rotational shifts in post processing–if two frames’ overlapping lines do not meet at the same angle in a panorama, it can ruin the entire image with objects going in different directions. Despite all of this, I still got the shot I was looking for, albeit with a few doubled artifacts I couldn’t figure out how to edit out (let’s see if you can spot them! haha). Below is a (yet again) downsized panorama of a 75 megapixel file:
That’s it for this weekend update guys and gals. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I am still taking a ton of pictures for my assignments. The hard part is finding the time to write about them and post them here for you all to enjoy.
Thanks for dropping by, and as always, have a great day!