Ledge Point Camping Trip 2012

Back in October 2012 I organised a trip with a large group of mates to head up to Ledge Point for a taste of camping and a serious try and some star trail photography. The weekend (20-21st Oct 2012) was a real blast and to be quite honest could barely be considered “real” camping as the site had fantastic facilities like a bbq pit, kitchen area, an ablution block with showers and toilets!

I had spent a lot of time picking the window of opportunity and actually made sure the trip coincided with the Orionids meteor shower so our star trail photography would be very exciting!

It actually took me out of my comfort zone to drive in the middle of the night which my car’s shocking headlamps and head away from all signs of civilisation. To say the least it was a good bonding trip with my mates and fellow photographers Wendy, Aaron and Manchoon. As Wendy and I fought our nerves striving into the pitch black whilst Aaron and Manchoon quite honestly couldn’t care less as they followed dirt paths into bush.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to come out with any real success for star photography but I did learn quite a lot of things about it.

  1. Bring a head lamp with infrared leds – This helps preserve night vision rather than the white light torches we used in between shots
  2. Wrap your camera and lenses with a towel and some hand warmer pads to fight off condensation.
  3. Meteor showers peak ~3am local time. Try not to be asleep.
  4. Music helps keep thoughts from straying to the sounds of dogs howling in the distance.
  5. My friends who not only push me out of my comfort zone but support me whilst I’m there are awesome.

So check out the gallery and keep in mind with the beacon on the car, that shot was taken at f4, ISO800 with a 30sec shutter speed. I had to further increase the exposure in Lightroom so the car was even visible… imagine what it was like for us in the dead of the night! Enjoy~

Pinnacles Group Action

Pinnacles Group Action

Pinnacles Panorama

Pinnacles Panorama

Beetle

Beetle

Pinnacles Group action

Pinnacles Group action

Pinnacles

Pinnacles

Fellow mate and photographer at the Pinnacles

Fellow mate and photographer at the Pinnacles

The fog creating a cone of light

The fog creating a cone of light

The fog creating a cone of light

The fog creating a cone of light

The beacon on the car!

The beacon on the car!

Cabin in the Night

Cabin in the Night

Panorama Photography tips

I have been working on taking multi-photo stitched panoramas lately and thought that I would list a few tips that I have personally come across that help with the process. This is timely as my last panorama has hit a few hitches because of me forgetting some of the basics! (Shame on me!)

  1. Determine what you want to capture – Visualise the panorama you want to have at the end to help you set up at the start!
  2. Shoot in portrait orientation – This reduces the amount of lens distortion between photos
  3. Overlap photos 25-50% – Automatic panoramic stitching software such as that in Photoshop require an overlap between photos to match and stitch. This is technically known as a Control Point. Whilst Photoshop is very much an automatic process, other panoramic software such as Hugin allow users to set Control Points manually to allow greater precision. Saying that, Photoshop has only let me down a few times and is a very painless process most of the time. Personally I believe 30% is a good overlap if there are distinct lines and features to align.
  4. Shoot in Manual mode EVERYTHING in manual.
    1. Focus – Set your focus in automatic/manual focusing then switch to manual so it is consistent between all the shots. (Unless you’re doing some advanced techniques like focus stacking)
    2. Manual mode – Determine your settings for aperture, shutter speed and ISO in whatever mode you want, but then switch your camera to manual and replicate the settings there. This ensures the settings are consistent for each photo)
    3. White Balance (WB) – Set your white balance. Don’t leave this on automatic as this could drastically change between your first and last frame. I had this issue last night in a night panorama as the lights on different buildings kept changing the automatic white balance. Luckily I shoot in Raw which leads to the next point…
  5. Shoot in RAW (optional) – Shooting in your camera’s RAW format will give you greater flexibility to tweak photos prior to stitching. In my instance I was able to accurately correct white balance across my photos prior to stitching. It also gives me the ability to tweak the exposure without image degradation.
  6. Use a Tripod (optional) – I would highly recommend using a level tripod for optimal stitching ability. It will help provide tack sharp photos with features that can be easily aligned. I personally have taken hand held photos for a panorama which have turned out great but they generally require high shutter speeds (to minimise camera shake) and not have interaction of foreground and background items as they won’t align due to parallax errors.
  7. Use a Remote release + Mirror Lock Up (optional) – For those using a tripod, I would also recommend going one step further and use a Remote Release and your camera’s Mirror Lock Up function to minimise and camera movement when you take the photo. Just another level of ensuring tack sharp photos, especially when taking long exposures.
  8. Using a Nodal Rail (optional) – This highly optional component allows you to rotate your camera about it’s No-Parallax-Point. The issue of parallax is best explained outside of this article but is most evident when you have objects in the foreground and the background and find them seemingly closer or further away from each other as your rotate to take the photos. A nodal rail is for hardcore panoramic photographers who enjoy including foreground features or those doing multi-row panoramas.

Perth Skyline Panorama 2013

This panorama was taken of the Perth Skyline from the look out at King’s Park. I was out testing my new Benro C2682TB1 Tripod and though what better test of a panorama than the city skyline at night!

Geared up with my camera on manual, remote + mirror lock up and sturdy tripod to get this 7 photo stitch panorama.

Click to enlarge!
Kings-Park-Perth-Skyline-2013-Panorama-1874-1880