Time off from work photos

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Have taken a couple of weeks off work as I had some days I need to use up before the end of June…

I have a few shots planned… milkyway of some description, possibly some sun rise/sets, long exposures using the ‘big stopper’ ND filter and I want to have a go at getting a shot of the Andromeda galaxy using the tracker..

Was a little tired after the bank holiday racing so spent the day finishing off my assignments and exams for the online courses in Photoshop and Lightroom I have been taking… wasn’t too sure on the Photoshop one as its quite technical and I don’t use it enough to really get to grips with it but thankfully I still managed to pass the final exam so happy with that..

Today I took the S3 on a jolly to Broadway Tower…

Time off from work photo time

First time in ages I have stretched the old girls legs a bit and first time I had used the retro-fitted RNS-E’s sat nav to direct me to Broadway… can say that both car and sat nav performed faultlessly…

Broadway tower was quite busy which was a bit of a pain to be fair as it made it a little tricky to do the shots I had planned… but I did take a couple…
Time off from work photo time

Time off from work photo time

Tried a long exposure shot with the ND1000 filter… f16, 20secs, ISO100
Time off from work photo time

Had to edit out a couple of ‘ghost’ artefacts where people were moving in and out of the shot… next time if its quite bright I may add my ND 8 filter on top to try and get a longer exposure to see if that helps…

Another shot I had planned to take was a milkyway panoramic… using PlanIt on my Android tablet I got an idea of when and how the shot could be taken…
Time off from work photo time

This is set to be a pano and composure was to try and place Broadway tower some where underneath it…
Time off from work photo time

Setup the tripod with the pano head and used the Samyang 24mm as this is the lens I will use on the night… the result is a 16 shot (2 x 8) panoramic image… while I know its not exactly the most stunning image in the world as it stands it was more a technical exercise to see if the shot was plausible..
Time off from work photo time

The only thing I need to check is if the gate to the tower is locked at all at night but there is a national trust walk as part of it so should be ok but I don’t want to turn up a 2am only to find I can’t get to the tower for the shot..

Overall a good day… got to see my mates, drive the S3 on some decent roads, take some pictures and have some fairly decent results… need to spend the evening blasting the dust out of the camera and lenses as there were a few dust spots on the images but all be ready for tomorrow and will try and get out again 🙂

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Pano head version 2 and a clear(ish) night

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I am a serial modder… I will mod just about anything if I can find a reason too… regular readers (all two of you… well maybe one… ok, just me!) may recall I modded a cheap and nasty panorama head (read here)… this was working fine but it was still a bit rough and ready and I couldn’t do multi-level panoramas as the arm was fixed…

So I grabbed another cheap rotating head and some cheap arca swiss rails… this gave me a more solid head with the ability to do multilevel pano’s

Re-calibrated the head for the no-parallax point on the Samyang as I wanted to try for a pano nightscape…

Zero’d for center…

Then 30 degrees rotation…

…and finally 30 degrees up…

Last night presented an opportunity to try it out…

Slight distortion on the electricity structure of course but this picture was made from two rows of 4 images (8 in total) so the head seems to work ok… just a pity light pollution is still high and subject matter is still a little unexciting (soz)

I took a few more pics to try stuff out while I was there…

I was out there a while but only really came home with those two captures… as is most of what I seem to do these days it was a learning exercise and I am happy that I can use the pano head at night

Not content with the last lot of mods to the head I moved onto the next weak point… the ‘L’ bracket… the 6D and Samyang/16-35L combo is heavier than the 50D and 10-18 EF-S… the ‘L’ bracket is quite thin so inspired by the 300 quid pano heads I have seen I bagged a cheap 30cm length of 20×40 aluminium extrusion from eBay (used to make frames for 3D printers) to make a sturdier bracket…

First I cut it into two sections, 100mm for the ‘foot’ and the remaining 200mm for the upright then tapped the bottom of the upright to take M6 bolts…

…then drilled and counter sunk the 100mm piece to attach it to the upright…

Next I fitted a couple of rivnuts to allow the bracket to be fixed to the arca swiss rail

Had to open the slots on the rail a bit to get the M6 bolts in…

Last thing was to drill the upright for the other head…

And job done…

The result is a really solid ‘L’ bracket and the whole head feels very sturdy indeed… just need to re-calibrate for no-parallax again 🙂

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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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