Archive for February 6th, 2009



The ginormous clean room of JPL.

The ginormous clean room of JPL.

I want to start taking more panorama shots, a while ago I tried some various stitching software packages (free ones of course) and none of them really worked for me. Since I had CS2 I could not import my .NEF files directly to photoshop and I really did not like converting to .DNG files beforehand, it just made it inconvenient.

When at JPL a few weeks ago we were in the observation deck of their clean room when I decided to try a panorama. I had no tripod with me so I just handheld the photos and rotated around. I then tried out the free panorama software Hugin, but it did really work for me in the end, at least not with a set of freehand photos. It also could not read my .NEF files. I did like the control point method though, I thought it was pretty neat.

But recently I received a copy of Photoshop CS4 which does support my camera RAW format (CS2 missed it by one update), so I tried the photoshop photomerge feature to create my panorama. I must admit that it is not the greatest for a couple reasons: the handheld part, shooting through a thick pane of glass and missing an additional shot on the left. Eventually I want to attempt an HDR panorama.

The next step is to build myself a custom panoramic tripod head, that will be sweet.

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Rainy Photography


Rainy days have such great sunsets.

Rainy days have such great sunsets.

Today it rained in Santa Barbara for the first time in a while that combined with me finishing lab early required, nay demanded that I go out and take photos. The rain drops falling on the lagoon, the moody sky rife with distinct clouds and a gentle cool to the afternoon drew me out immediately upon getting home.

Of course I have no actual experience taking photos in the rain. Thinking of this on the way home I came up with a quick and sort of efficient system.

I started off with my camera on my tripod and a plastic bag over the camera. I had all of my gear in my Streetwalker and an umbrella in my off hand. When I wanted to take a photo I put the tripod down (either tripodding or monopodding), hung the plastic bag on the tripod and held the umbrella in either the hand adjusting the zoom or between my head and shoulder. It was slightly awkward and I really wish I had zip-tied the umbrella directly to the main shaft of the tripod. Maybe a clip of some sort.

Changing lenses was surprisingly easy. I discovered that I can hang my bag on my tripod for extremely easy access to all of my stuff plus a small clean platform to do the lens changing. And no water got into my camera body (always a plus).

I did manage to drop my lens into the sand though. I thought I had secured, I picked it up and slow motion kicked in as it fell. Plopped on the sand I feared the worst, I snatched it up to find that only the lens cap had hit the sand, no optics or mechanical parts were damaged. A UV filter (that I only use as dust protectors now) did manage to make a journey into the sand.

I need to streamline the whole photographing rain thing, I just have so little opportunities to do so here in Santa Barbara.

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