Last Friday I presented a lot of the work I’ve been doing over the last 3 months or so to my company’s president and executive leadership. Story short: it went well, they agreed with the bulk of the work, but want to prioritize some other work within the project over some immediate recommendations we had. So they liked it, but want us to tackle things in a different order. Good times.
So with that done, and some nice clouds in the sky, it was time for some more picture taking. I have a complete spherical panoramic head now, and this was going to be my first chance to use it. I decided to take Monday off and head up north.
Unfortunately, I had a dentist appointment that I couldn’t move at 1pm on saturday, so I had a late start. But I checked down a couple of roads I’ve never been down and shot some cools stuff including Bloody Basin Road. I checked out red tank draw as well and then made Flagstaff after sunset.
Sunday I headed north to Page with the goal of shooting Horseshoe Bend. It’s only 2 hours north of Flagstaff, so I thought I’d have a lot of time to shoot around Page. What I wasn’t counting on was how spectacular that drive is. Highway 89 is amazing, with badlands, red rock mountains, a couple great views of the Grand Canyon, and a lot of other stuff. I ended up at Horseshoe Bend about 2 hours before sunset and shot an 84 image bracketed group for making a large HDR panorama. Unfortunately, the sun was pretty low, and caused some flare, but it’s not too terrible. Sunset was bad as the sun set behind a large hazy bank of clouds. I had no light as of 6pm, and no pretty red clouds. Bummer.
By Saturday, I was running on about 10 hours of sleep over the previous 2 days, and was dragging. I didn’t have the energy to make it back up to Page, and I needed to get some shots of Doug’s daughter in. So I spent a couple of hours of the morning in Oak Creek Canyon and was back in Flagstaff at noon. I did a quick shoot in the park with Lotee, then I decided to head home. I wanted to get home before Phoenix traffic snarls up, and didn’t want to wait until 6 to avoid it.
For the 1 full day, and 2 half days of shooting, I captured 9GB of raw files. Lightroom pulled them in like a champ, and I’m now going through the painful process of stitching and blending. It’s these times I wish I had a mythical 8 core Mac Pro. The 84 shot Horseshoe pano took all night to build into 3 layered files to bring into Photomatix. In order to speed things up I used JPEGs. Each of the layers is a 100MB jpeg. Let me say that again, 100MB JPEG. It makes a 39in x 76in print. When trying to bring the files into Photomatix to combine into an HDR and tone map, the app just crashes. Barf.
So I’m creating a .HDR file in Autopano Pro instead of layered files, and I’ll just use Photomatix for tone mapping if it can handle the resulting file. It’s not much fun watching a machine with 4GB of ram just thrash it’s disk with swapping, but throw a 5GB panorama at it, and feel the MTBF on your drive trickle away. Worse comes to worst, I’ll have to just combine the individual bracketed shots, tone-map them and then stitch them. Not sure why Photomatix is crashing on the large files, especially since Autopano pro seems to do fine with it. Looks like autopano is working on stitching focus bracketing as well, like I was talking about the other day. Awesome.
I shot a ton of multi-eposure images this weekend, really drilling on nailing hyperfocal distance focusing. Also on Monday, I shot exclusively with my 50mm prime. I’m thinking about getting a few more primes specifically for pano shooting, but they will have to wait for a while. Here are a couple of shots from the last few days, with more to come.
P.S. I upgraded to a Flickr Pro account because no-one could see panos larger than 1024 pixels wide. You can now view all of my stuff at pretty large sizes.
P.P.S Thanks Flickr for not upgrading my account until my direct debit payment from paypal cleared. God forbid all those thieves get 3 whole days of Pro features when writing you bad e-checks. And thanks for the heads up that you would do that before I chose my payment method. I would have chosen to pay with my debit card had I known you would be treating me with pointless suspicion otherwise.