Coaley Peak and views from Selsley….

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Coaley Peak Panorama
As I am currently on leave from work and there was a small break in the weather I decided to take advantage of this and take a few pictures…

I am lucky that to have quite a few areas of common land near where I live so I took a trip to see what I could find…

Coaley Peak viewpoint is a favourite with dog walkers (and dogging apparently) which was evident by all the ‘poop’ land mines lying around :/

Still… I got set up and gave it a go…

Nice view :)

I shot in manual mode which was a little alien to be honest… not sure I have got it 100% down as yet but pics came out fairly well all the same… I still need practice but it was very windy and I wasn’t wearing enough layers so getting a little cold but here are the results of the shoot…

Coaley Peak

There was an old guy painting the valley… wish I had used the tripod on this one (was taken handheld) and had a chat with him to maybe compose the shot a bit better but I like this one a lot

Coaley Peak

Coaley Peak

Coaley Peak

Coaley Peak

Having had enough of the wind and the ‘poop’ I went to go and have a look at somewhere else I could take some shots from… as I was driving back through the common the valley opened up and I had some great views of the buildings on the other side so stopped off and got the 100-400 out for a few shots..

Stroud Valleys

Stroud Valleys

Stroud Valleys

All in all it was a good day… learnt a lot and I know I now need to practice in manual a little more to make it a bit more natural as its easy to take even semi auto modes like Av (the mode I generally use) for granted…

Hoping the weather is nice to me for the next week so I can get out again… might try something black & white if the lights against me

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So… I got a Mac!…

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Macbook Air

Anyone that knows me well enough knows my feelings on Apple products… or more to the point fanbois that prattle on about how wonderful Apple products are but don’t actually know why…

Now… don’t get me wrong, I have an appreciation for the products themselves… they are well made, well designed and integration is well thought out… but they are at a price point that is difficult to justify for a nerd like me… up until now there has been no reason I can think of that would make me want a Mac over a PC based product least of all for most if not all I use computers for.

My career is based on Microsoft products and my experience is pretty much M$ based… I have an Android phone and an Android tablet, a gaming PC (not really an Xbox/Playstation person for gaming) and a laptop…

Now that I am getting more into my photography I wanted a more portable solution with a decent screen… finding a Windows based laptop should have been easy but getting a small enough one that was powerful enough with a decent screen meant I was heading into Mac money… so I started considering a Mac… purely as a tool the Mac ticked quite a few boxes but the expense was still an issue

Then I got a message from a friend saying he had a Macbook Air available… it was the right sorta money (in fact it was a good deal cheaper than any I saw on eBay) and was just over a year old..

The Air has a great screen, is totally portable and powerful enough to run Lightroom and Photoshop…

So I got it 😀

Macbook Air

I have to say I am impressed with it as a machine… its surprisingly useful as a lifestyle device and obviously handles my photography requirements well

Obviously owning a Mac still didn’t sit massively well with me… my mate took great pleasure in ribbing me on how he has now converted me to Apple and that I will be getting an iPhone next!!… never gonna happen lol… so I had to do something to address this..

Android vs Mac

Much better 😀

Took a bit of getting used to… its much ‘simpler’ than Windows and I now ‘get’ why people wobble on about them so much…. that said its not enough to turn me from Windows on a permanent basis but I do use the Air now as my main ‘browsing’ device…

Some of my Steam games work on it too…

Steam on Mac

…as does my emulator

MD Emulator

While I am still not an Apple convert I do have a deeper appreciation of the brand (regular readers will know I already have an iPod and serves the purpose I got it for brilliantly for the money I paid…

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Getting started in panoramic photography….

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As is normal for me and my hobbies I have a tendency to invest more time and effort in kitting myself out than actually doing the hobby itself… it was the same with my drums… spent more time building the kit than playing… hopefully this ratio will change with my photography…

With that in mind I recently ‘invested’ time researching panoramic photography and it ticks a few boxes for me… always had an interest in landscape images and pano’s seem a decent technical challenge over the normal landscape type photography…

Decent pano heads are massively expensive but generally consist of a rotating ‘L’ bracket… The one I really fancy is the Roundabout-NP Deluxe 5R… its around the £230 mark but built from girders and can handle 360 degree pano’s… I am not really interested in 360 pano’s and don’t really want to spend £230… even though it is a thing of billety goodness…

Roundabout-NP Deluxe

So I settled on spending very little and anticipating having to do a little work to make it usable…

Cheap Pano Head

It was just over £18 from Amazon and had all the basics there so all good apart from a few little things… the rotational mount was wobbly and the extended arm would sag a little with the weight of the camera on it so I set about doing a few mods…

First up the rotational mount… this was only clamped in one position and had a locating pin 90 degrees to it… with the weight of the camera it was a little unstable…

Rotational Mount

So I drilled and tapped the base to add some screws in and ground the ends on the bolts to a point to help locate in the track of the other half of head…

Modded head

Next up I wanted to sure up the extended arm…

Extended arm

I drilled and tapped the slide mount so I could add a couple of screws to stiffen up the arm…

Tapping the mount

…and voila!…

Modded extension arm

Unfortunately the rotational mount was still rubbish and fearing for my camera I bought something that was still cheap but more suitable for the job…

Pano Mount

All I can say is its simply perfect for the job… lovely smooth rotation, 15 degree markings to make it easier to pan and as stable as a stable thing…

With this fitted I proceeded onto setting the mount up properly to get the lens centred to the mount and to find the no-parallax point of the lens.

I found a few sites explaining this and have posted the links below as it will be easier to read them than me duplicate the info here but you essentially set the camera that to the entrance pupil of the lens is the centre point of rotation for the pano image… this prevents the images from distorting when stitched

I had already marked the centre of the mount so I used a needle and tread as a make shift plum bob to set the lens central to the tripod…

Centering the lens

I then used a bit of card on my other tripod to create a ‘sight’ to line up the entrance pupil of the lens… first dead ahead and centred…

Centered entrance pupil

Then 30 degrees off centre…

30 degrees off centre

…which as you can see it was out a bit… so moved the camera back on the extended arm until it was lined up in the sight…

Entrance pupil at 30 degrees

I also checked 30 degrees off centre in the opposite direction and was the same so happy that its all where it should be…

All done and ready to take panoramas…

Pano head setup

I took a couple of pics at the weekend including a near 360 (horizontally) of the Badger 5 workshop…

Badger5 Workshop

So for just under £45 and a small amount of tweaking have a fairly decent pano head…

As for software I have been using a fairly early version of Lightroom and Photoshop for quite a while but since acquiring a Macbook Air (will blog about this soon) I have started using the Adobe Creative Cloud on a photographers plan which gives me the latest version of both and some other benefits…

Canon supply Photostitch with the camera but it didn’t seem to do a brilliant job… Photoshop however seems to be able to do this with ease using the Photomerge automation…

I have some time off coming up so hoping to get out and try some proper scenic pano’s with the rig… will post up the results as and when they happen 😀

Links…

Panoramic bracket:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00OBASVZQ

Panoramic head:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00RK2DVJI

Useful sites:
http://www.johnhpanos.com/epcalib.htm
http://wiki.panotools.org/Entrance_Pupil_Database
http://digital-photography-school.com/creating-a-panorama-with-photoshop-and-photomerge/
https://photographylife.com/panoramic-photography-howto

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Lack of updates… soz…

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Been a while since I have posted but its been a busy few months… big project at work has taken up pretty much all my time but now things are beginning to quieten down so have had a chance to grab some me time…

A lot has happened and I have a fair few updates to post over the coming weeks so for the one or two people who actually read this blog I hope it will be interesting enough to get you back 🙂

2016 will hopefully be a year where I spend less time messing about with my car seeing as its pretty much all done and more playing with photography… I have invested a bit of time and effort into prepping myself for some interesting projects so stay tuned and I’ll make a concerted effort to update my blog a bit more often

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