Inca Tern – Bournemouth Oceanarium

During a visit to the UK I went to one of my childhood holiday memory spots. Bournemouth. It was a chance for my wife and I to get away and relax by the sea side.

We went to the Bournemouth Oceanarium, I took my Camera… because…
At the Oceanarium I took quite a few photographs, this one is of an Inca Tern sitting on a rock at the Penguin enclosure. There were around 2 pairs of them flying around the enclosure.

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Nikon D610 300mm (at 270mm) f/5.6 iso640 1/60s

Not bad for handheld! really love the white whiskers

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Zebra Spider

Last summer, my parents visited Canada, since then I have not really gotten around to updating this blog, so I have a bit of a backlog of pictures. There are also new features of RAWTherapee that I have to get used to. To kick us off I present to you the result of crawling around on a pebble beach in the search of insects and spiders to point my 105mm Macro at.

Here is a shot of a Zebra spider that paused for a moment allowing me to snap a quick shot.

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Hand held with a Nikon D610 – 105mm Macro Nikkor at f/8 1/100s

A little bit of editing was required to claw back some sharpness since the original shot is not pin sharp.

Making a Panorama – or a simple stitch

Sometimes, we have the wrong equipment and cannot frame an image correctly. Many would say, well stand closer, or further away. This in principle is fine, but sometimes you get caught out and want to take a ultra wide angle shot, or even just combine two photographs.

What ever your reason is, you do not always need to pay for software in order to get results. This is not a sales pitch or a suggestion that you should delve into software piracy, but instead to point out a free, open-source, cross platform set of tools for achieving great results for free! This software package is called Hugin, and I discovered it after taking a set of about 12 shots of a particle physics detector with my 50mm lens, because, I had left my 28mm at home. I took the shots anyway and then thought… there has to be something out there I can use.

Here I will cover a simple guide on Hugin, the guides online work fine as well, but I thought I’d give it my personal twist. It will by no means supersede the official guides but I think will be more accessible.

So let us say you took these four shots of St George’s Chapel during a trip to Windsor Castle…

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and you want to combine them.

Download Hugin from here http://hugin.sourceforge.net

When you open the application, it will give you some debug messages (depending on the version you get) ignore those, they are not important.

The interface you are looking at is probably the ‘Simple’ interface. This works fine, but i prefer the expert one. So go ahead and select that in the top menu bar. I am working on a mac, but the windows version is similar.

It should look like this

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Select the Add Image and add each one.

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So next thing to do is to check that the lens information is correct – it is in this case, the application usually gets it from the information embedded in the image. You will see the letters AC in the Anchor column on the first image.

This is positioning and exposure anchoring, basically which picture should the program say is dead ahead, and which picture should i match the brightness. You can change these by right clicking and selecting the relevant option. For this example I am going to select the second image.

Now the next step depends on the type of image. You now want Hugin to look at each image and find matching features around which it will make the stitch. You can simply press the “Create Control points” button. There are a couple of options, but, typically you want CP find or cpfind + celeste. Hit the button!

For these images, it found 67 for me.

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Now, next you want to have hugin start laying the images out and to do any trimming down of potential problems. Sometimes it makes a mistake and some control points are bad, or you have lens distortion that causes issues. it is very good practice to remove these distortions using a lens profile and your favourite raw image processor if you are working from original raw files. The images on this page do not contain any such distortion removal… (sorry i was lazy)

So to do this, in the optimize area, the default option is “Positions (Incremental, starting from anchor) Press calculate

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So we got our result back, this gives a deviation between control points on the different images, here our maximum is 2.15, the average is 0.27, i don’t know if this is in pixels, but the smaller the numbers, the better. So this worked quite well. Apply the changes. If something is drastically bad you may highlight all the images, right click and in the menu select clean control points. It will go through and remove the ones that don’t seem to work. In drastic cases you will need to go to the control points tab, and click through the image comparisons and figure out which control points are bad and remove them by hand. Here though, all looks good!

You can further optimize things by including more parameters from the optimize geometric options. The last one including things like rotation, zoom, barrel distortions, lots of good stuff. If you select that and hit calculate once again, the maximum deviation decreases to 0.8 in my case. This means that when I took the shot, I moved in a way that was none circular or i stepped to one side a little. Either way, the optimizer appears to have fixed it.

Now press the fast preview icon, it has the letters GL in it. The simple interface will pop up and show you what the panorama looks like. Press the stitch tab on the expert control windows and you will see the following screen.

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Now, press Calculate field of view. The image on the preview should get bigger and roughly fill the whole black space.
Press Calculate optimal size, the canvas size will now reflect the actual stitched image size, yep, they can be huge!
Finally press Fit Crop to images

We now have this
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So now you can note how the program has stretched the images and overlayed them, you can also see how the exposure on one of the images is slightly higher, dont worry about this, the program will take care of that. In most cases that is…

Press Stitch, a dialogue will pop up, select your save names and off we go. Depending on your computer, it will now take a few seconds, or a few minutes.

Now check out the result (i have resized it)

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Not bad! You can see some perspective distortion, but other than that, it looks like hugin did an excellent job!

Hugin will do other nice things, in the Masks tab, you can select parts of images you want to include or exclude… this is wonderful as it allows you to take several images of something such as a monument with tourists walking around. With enough shots, you can exclude everyone in all of the images and end up with a stacked image that looks like you took the shot when the place was deserted.

The Control points tab allows you to add or remove control points and change their locations. This is very useful if you have a problematic image and need to nurse it through the process.

With enough care you can do many things with this program!

A blue Damselfly – Little Cataraqui Creek

I cannot recommend the 105mm Macro-Nikkor f/4 more than I already have, if you can get your hands on one cheap, used, or even be lucky enough to afford a brand spanking new one, GET ONE. This lens to me is so much fun, it is sharp enough to pull off macro-shots on the fly, as well as being a general workhorse for your shots that don’t need to be all that close up but benefit from that bit of a zoom. It isn’t the fastest lens in the world, but Iv found that recently more of my good shots, come from this lens than any other.

While out walking with my Parents on a very sunny day at Little Cataraqui Creek, north of Kingston, Ontario, the Damselfly were out in force. So I was able to get this lovely shot of one resting. Was not square on to it enough to get the whole body in focus, but it is close enough. Definitely a shot to go 1:1 with, but in this case this shot is the full frame, no crop.

Dont worry, there are more macro shots of bugs to follow.

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D610 + Macro Nikkor 105mm ISO 400 f/8 1/125s hand held.

Bed of Silk

Many of my friends will know that ever since I obtained a 105mm Macro, iv been taking far too many photographs of spiders and bugs. BUT I don’t always take pictures of spiders and bugs… sometimes I shoot other things… like this spider web. Contrast a little amped up here to show the quite nice double cup like spider web.

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Taken with D610 + 105mm Macro at 1/200s f/4 iso 200.

Kingston Buskers Rendezvous – Knife throw – The Secret Circus

Brent and Maya from The Secret Circus Show again, this time Maya stands on Brent’s shoulders. This part of the show was knife juggling, though the stance here was a bit of a funny side as Maya pretended to line up one of the audience who had been volunteered to help out.

Again, great fun!

Here my framing isn’t so great, I actually held this above my head, one hand shading the view finder, and the other on the trigger. Overall not THAT bad framing given the circumstances, but it would have been nice to get all of Brent’s feet.

Once again, taken with my D610 and my Macro-Nikkor 105mm

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Kingston Buskers Rendezvous – Fire Maya of the Secret Circus Show

I have a huge backlog of photos to go through and upload, so expect some more images to come in the near future. Today was the last day of the Kingston Buskers Rendezvous. Standing behind people taking shots with my D610, with a Macro-Nikkor 105mm was a little bit of a challenge, though did yield some great results. The lens is sharp enough that with a steady hand and enough light, 1:1 crops still look great.

The weather was great and the shots where mostly bright. So here is the last show we watched today, The Secret Circus Show in particular this is Maya during the fire juggling part of the show. I tried to get as many mid air shots as possible. This one has the most heat ripple in the middle of the shot and a very serious looking Maya.

The show was great, lots of fun, if you get chance to see Maya and Brent perform it is well worth it.

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