All posts by admin

Story of a Picture

Here’s a pano which I took in France. I was visiting the town of Longny au Perche in Normandy and came across this artist in the grounds of the La chapelle NotreDame de Pitié, supposedly Mary Queen of Scots was responsible for its construction. The interior of the chapel can be seen here.

I was wandering around the ground when I saw the painter capturing the scene. In very broken French I managed to convey that I wanted to take her photo and would she mind. I detected no great objection so I set up  my camera close by and took this pano. Afterwards, I asked for her card and I sent a copy of the finished version.

This is my favourite projection of the pano, Miller cylindrical with a bit cropped off the top and bottom. The shadow of the is camera ominous opposite the sight of a traditional artist at work, the new and old facing off in this picturesque setting. I have to go back to the original source images and redo the pano, get rid of some stitching errors where the wind has blown the parasol around, and deal with flare in the sky. But I have a soft spot for this pano despite its technical flaws.

Panorama Photography Classes

I’m now offering one day classes in panoramic photography. It will cover the basic principles of panoramas, how to take the source imagery, align, assemble, and output the results. By the end of the day, you should be able to produce 360 degree cylindrical panorama or perhaps even a spherical panorama.

For those who already have the basics, I also offer personal tuition covering advanced techniques for overcoming difficult scenes, post-processing/remapping, and constructing VR tours.

Photoworld Talk Addendum

Thanks to all who attended the Edinburgh Photoworld. I hope that people were able to get  something out of my talk. I took a pano at the start of the day (left). The full pano can be seen here. More of my panoramas can be found here.

I have had requests for the links I gave at the end of my talk. Here are some links below, it’s by no means exhaustive, but hopefully they will be able to get you started.

I also run panorama photography courses for medium and advanced photographers. Please contact me if you are interested in attending a session. Small group tuition is also available.

Hardware

  • Nodal Ninja. Recommended manufacturers of panoramic heads.
  • Agnos. Italian manufacturer of panoramic heads.
  • Red-door. UK reseller of panoramic equipment.
  • 360 Tactical VR. Local reseller of panoramic equipment.

Software

  • Hugin. Open source free software for assembling panoramas. (multi-platform)
  • wiki.panotools.org. Information source for panoramic photography.
  • PTGui. Commercial pano software (PC).
  • PTAssembler. Commercial pano software (PC)
  • Calico. Commercial pano software (Mac)

 Viewing

  • Panozona. Open source, free software for constructing VR Tours
  • DevalVR. Free (non-open) local viewer
  • Gigapan. Share gigapixel panos.
  • HD View. Microsoft technology for displaying high resolution panoramas.
  • Zoomify. Software for zoomable display.

General Information

Out and about with the NEX-7

I’ve been getting used to the NEX-7, especially for street photography. The difference to the A77 couldn’t be more marked. The difference in size is the most noticeable difference, it is certainly less intimidating for people to have pointed at them, in stark contrast to the A77+16-50mm. The CDAF of the NEX-7 in good light is still reasonably quick and I can get the grabbed shot. Even in poor light, the peaking function with MF can give quite good results with some practise.

Fake Battery?

The battery on the NEX-7 is quite small, 1080mAh at 7.2V. With the EV, LCD and LiveView, this means that a spare battery or three is essential. I went onto Amazon to look for genuine spare NP-FW50 batteries and one seller was offering them at less than half the price of the typical seller. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When I received the battery, the packaging looked authentic, hologram and all, but the battery itself looked subtly different from the one I got with the camera.

The major differences I can spot are:

  • The battery casing is different, the suspect one does not have the grooves behind the label
  • The printing is different, crisper on the genuine one, e.g. the QR code
  • There is text missing on the suspect battery, “2ICP9/30/39” which appears on the genuine one
  • The engraving on the bottom right is different
  • The shape of the connectors on the top right is different
  • The colour of the top right corner is a different shade of cyan

I’m trying to get confirmation from Sony whether the battery from Amazon is genuine or not. So far, the battery is working. It charges up and displays percentage charge remaining on the camera. I’m not familiar enough with the run time of the genuine battery to tell whether the Amazon battery has the same amount of juice. The issue however is that I could have just bought for even less money a non-fake third-party spare battery which would have performed just as well.

Out with old, in with the new

It’s been a busy week with new arrivals. My Epson 2100 died a few months ago with a clogged magenta channel, no amount of cleaning would restore it so I finally bit the bullet and ordered an R3000. I was sorely tempted by a 3880 but I don’t really do enough printing to justify such a large printer. The R3000 seemed to be what I needed, basically a baby 3880.

Once I managed to get it home, the process of setting it up remained. The old printer went into its box, I vacuumed up half a ton of dust which had gathered around it. I also took the opportunity to install a Blu-ray burner for backing up files, and put away an old PC which I had left lying in backup next to the new one. The new printer was trussed up in travel tape to prevent various parts from flapping around. I installed the 9 ink cartridges and it automatically primed itself in a 10 min performance of Cage’s lesser known work. Drivers were installed and we were ready to go.

Now was the problem of what to print first. The methodical thing to do would be print out something I was familiar with so that I could compare it with a previous print. Of course I didn’t do this but chose something new. I’d been starved of a printer for so long I wanted to see what it could do with one of the images which was piling up. I chose a night scene I took of the Canal du Midi at Homps. The print on Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl was pretty good, the density in the dark areas much better than what I had been getting with the 2100. The colours also seemed to be suitably saturated.

I then tried profiling the printer for Tetenal Duo Print 130gsm using SpyderPrint 4.2.3. The problem is using the right media settings, the plain paper settings didn’t really give a satisfactory result so I may have to experiment. Switching to matte black may also help (but I don’t want to waste ink, not yet).

Doing some large prints of panos will be the next test. I will try the Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl HDR version see if this gives a better result.

New member of the stable

The NEX-7 just came into widespread availability this week. I was walking past a local camera store and saw the advert on the window and couldn’t resist popping in to have a play. It proved too much for me to resist and I eneded up buying the NEX-7+18-55mm kit from a nearby store which had one to actually sell (the first shop only had the display copy).

What finally tipped me over the edge? The compactness of the body compared with the A77 is a great selling point. Even if comparable lenses do not differ that much in size between the two systems (E-mount and Alpha respectively), for the short primes I intend to use, the reduction in the size of the body is significant. The EVF is the same as in the A77 which I find to be very usable in most situations I have encountered. The accessory shoe will be useful in the studio for triggers. The inbuilt flash will be useful for the odd fill-flash now and again. I hope to be able to use manual focus lenses with adapters. I still have to get used to the Tri-Navi interface but first impressions are that it is a massive improvement over the NEX-5 which I have used in the past.

I hope to obtain the Rokinon 8mm/2.8 fisheye so that I have a very portable pano rig which leaves the A77 mounted with the 16-50mm/2.8 or large aperture prime ready for street/candid shots. The NEX-7 is small enough that I can bring it along as a backup without too much extra hassle. An LA-EA1 will allow me to mount my Alpha mount lenses when I don’t need fast AF (or any AF for screwdriver lenses).

Pictures below were taken with the NEX-7 fitted with the LA-EA1+35mm/1.8 DT SAM using peaking and magnified view, ISO3200, converted from RAW in Lightroom 4 Beta.