Rodney Campbell's Blog

Mona Vale Tidal Pool…

by on Jul.01, 2016, under Life, Photography

Spent a lovely morning out (last year! :)) with some good friends from my local photography club at Mona Vale tidal pool.

Mona Vale tidal pool is on the tip of a sand spit between two large beaches. With a low tide the rock shelf around the pool is revealed and you get some nice flow in and around the pool. When the tide is high, the pool is surrounded by water making it look like an island.

Mona

Mona Vale Tidal Pool

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 62 sec at f/11, ISO 100

I’ve seen some epic images taken here with king tides and massive crashing waves under an ominous sky. Alas today was calm and serene so no such luck for us.

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

Into the Light

Into the Light

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 18 mm, 20 sec at f/11, ISO 100

The pool itself has some lovely features such as the stainless-steel rails around and down into the water. With enough water you also get a multitude of mini waterfalls flowing out of the pool.

The spot is also pretty popular with fisherman – as it was this morning – only the long exposures help removing their moving bodies from the scene :).

Risen Ripples

Risen Ripples

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 1.6 sec at f/11, ISO 100

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Fair Ways…

by on Jun.29, 2016, under Life, Photography

My middle daughter is playing soccer this year. With games pretty much every Sunday this is affording me a nice opportunity to do a little drone flying and practicing. The good thing about this is the variety of new ovals and thus new locations we are visiting.

I shoot the games for the families of the girls and provide a web gallery of images for them each week. Truth be told it gives me a reason to make some use my long lenses. That big and heavy (but surprisingly sharp) Sigma 50-500mm lens along with the spectacularly nice Nikon 70-200/2.8.

Fair Ways

I usually take my DJI Phantom 4 along with us, and sometimes it ends up being a location I can fire up the drone. If even for a relatively low flight over some clear open space. Either before (as in this case) during or after the game.

I’m typically pretty careful with the drone and keep it away from people and buildings and don’t fly over crowds (or the games). Sydney thankfully has quite a lot of open space, especially around the ovals, parks and waterways.

I’ve been experimenting with doing full 360˚ panoramas with the drone lately. So here is another one taken at Cammeray on Sydney’s north shore.

See a birds eye from 60m up and get an interactive view of the scene. You can control the view and look around the scene using your mouse or keyboard (e.g. arrow keys). From here we can see all the way down to the harbour and the Sydney CBD on the other side in the distance.

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. Click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

Fair Ways

Fair Ways

FC330 + 3.6 mm @ 3.61 mm, 1/30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100 x 25 Frames

I reckon even this flattened equirectangular projection view of the whole space looks pretty good. Sometimes the complete panorama doesn’t look very good at all.

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Barangaroo…

by on Jun.27, 2016, under Life, Photography

Having never shot at the new Barangaroo precinct here right at the north-western tip of Sydney’s central business district I figured it was time to give it a try. So (last year! :)) I invited Gerry to join me for a quick morning session down here to see what it might bring.

We’d heard tales of how the Barangaroo development didn’t like “professional” photographers inside Barangaroo Reserve. At least not without paying for the privilege :). The definition of “professional” essentially encompassing anyone with a “fancy” camera or tripod. We however had no such issues the morning we were there so perhaps the tales were just that.. tales…

Northern View

Northern View

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 15 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Note: These images (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. Click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

Anyway this location isn’t too bad a spot – I’d imagine it would work in some parts for sunrise and in others for sunset so it’s got potential. I think it needs good clouds and colour in the sky to work well. This is something which was severely lacking the morning Gerry and I were there :(.

Barangaroo Keys

Barangaroo Keys

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 15 sec at f/11, ISO 100

One of the big features of the new Barangaroo Reserve is the more than 10,000 sandstone blocks were used to create the extraordinary headland park on the city’s doorstep. Ninety three per cent of the blocks came from Barangaroo itself. They were painstakingly extracted from beneath what is now the Cutaway, the Reserve’s massive cultural space.

As the shot above shows this has definitely got potential. I’m now thinking of some aerial drone possibilities with this lovely rock and patterns from above :).

To be honest however I don’t think either of us was particularly enthused this morning – the sky was just bleh… Still we forced ourselves to take a few shots and Gerry even crafted a nice simplified LE from a shot of one of the navigation poles out in the water.

Curvaceous Barangaroo

Curvaceous Barangaroo

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 22 mm, 1/8 sec at f/11, ISO 100 x 4 Frames

Even a stitched panorama wasn’t enough (these my last frames of the day). With the sun just about to rise on the other side of the city this panorama is the result of stitching together four vertical bracketed frames. Each of the frames the result of blending five (5) bracketed exposures from -2EV to +2EV.

Please let the breakfast be better :)…

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My 360˚ Panorama Workflow Part 1…

by on Jun.26, 2016, under Life, Photography

I’ve been posting a couple of interactive 360˚ panorama photographs both on my blog and my social media streams. Since then I’ve been asked a number of questions by various friends also interested in experimenting with this.

This series of blog posts is I guess an answer to a number of those questions and perhaps others they’ve not yet thought of :). It’s a description of my current 360˚ panorama workflow along with the tools and utilities I use.

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. Click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

Mona Vale Beach at Sunset

Mona Vale Beach at Sunset - 360˚ Panorama

DJI Phantom 4 - FC330 + 3.6 mm @ 3.61 mm, 1/10 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100 x 25 Frames

Taking the Source Images

There are a number of very good tutorials which describe what is required for taking source images for a stitched panorama. I won’t go over that in any detail here. I will however offer some key tips and cover a solution when using a drone.

General Panorama Tips

– ensure you overlap your source frames (I generally recommend 50% overlap but anything down to 25% should work).
– aim to lock your exposure before taking the frames. This is to ensure auto exposure doesn’t radically alter the exposure between frames. You may need to “hedge” your chosen exposure to choose an “average” exposure setting so as to not too badly overexpose the highlights in any particularly bright frames or totally block up the shadows in any darker frames.
– don’t use a polariser (because the polarisation will change between the frames in different directions to the light source).
– aim to keep your horizon level across the frames.
– if there are objects close to the camera you may be interested in avoiding parallax issues by rotating the camera & lens around the nodal point.

360˚ Panorama Tips

Your aim may be to create a full spherical photosphere (360 degrees x 180 degrees). This may be so you can have a full interactive panorama (i.e. one in which you can look in every direction from the central point with no gap in the view). If this is the case then your final photo is likely to be in equirectangular projection at a 2:1 landscape aspect ratio.

– you will likely be taking multiple rows of images to stitch (not just for the full 360˚ round view but also upwards and downwards).

Drone Tips

You can take 360˚ panorama images with a number of 360 specialised cameras. You can also take images with mobile devices and by stitching source frames taken with any normal camera.

It is also possible to take the source frames for a 360˚ panorama using a drone like the DJI Phantom and Inspire series. There are a number of software apps (run on your mobile or tablet devices) which can make this process easier.

I’ve been using the free DronePan app.

DronePan is simple. Fire up your transmitter and DJI drone as you normally would. Launch DronePan and use the FPV screen to get to your desired altitude. Then click the “Play” button. DronePan takes care of the rest.

DronePan will take all the necessary photos at the required yaw and pitch. This will create photos that can be easily stitched together for a 360 spherical panorama. The process takes less than 2 minutes.

Stitching the Panorama

There are a number of software applications available for stitching panorama’s. Way too many applications to cover here. This very extensive article which provides a comparison of photo stitching software is available should you want to research this aspect.

Some of the options I have tried or can recommend include Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop. There are also a host of specialist panorama stitching applications including PTGui, AutoPano, The Panorama Factory and Microsoft ICE

I wont go into the specific detail of using any of these packages. There will be many tutorials online on this extensive topic.

I will mention however a couple points to keep in mind:

– not all packages support stitching multi row full 360˚ panorama’s or using extremely wide angle (e.g. fisheye) lenses.

– if you are creating a 360 spherical panorama using a drone then you will discover that the drone is unable to take source images pointing upwards towards the higher parts of the sky nor the image pointing directly up at the zenith.

– if you wish to complete the full 2:1 equirectangular projection you will be up for some post processing. This includes “filling in” the sky at the top part of your image. Generally you’ll want to “fake” this upper portion of the image – either by extending/content aware filling/cloning in the existing sky or by dropping in a new sky from somewhere else.

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Entropy – Photographic Exhibition…

by on Jun.25, 2016, under Life, Photography

Entropy * Photographic Exhibition

One concept; 9 Photographers; 9 Interpretations

A small group of passionate Sydney based photographers (Parallaxis) and I have been working towards an exhibition of our work in September this year. Enfused around the theme of “Entropy” we’ve each been interpreting and creating our bodies of work for our collective goal.

Miracles over Mirima

Entropy - Miracles over Mirima

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 46 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1000 x 149 Frames

It is with great pleasure I can announce that I’ve now finalised my selection of images – yay! … and decided on my wall layout for the exhibition.

What is so impressive and gratifying is seeing the variation and progression in my peers work. There is such a huge variety of interpretations on our common Entropy theme. Collectively we’ve amassed an amazing and diverse array of work and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final display.

I won’t give away anything about what my fellow photographers are presenting. However I’ve hinted for some months about what I’ve been working on. So it may be no surprise the teaser above is on my theme. It’s one of my unpublished images I’d been holding back for the exhibition, however it’s one of the many images which didn’t make the final cull.

Details:

Our exhibition is going to be at The Art Space on the Concourse @ Chatswood (Sydney’s North Shore). From Tuesday 6th to Sunday 18th September 2016, if you can make it we’d love to see you there.

What’s Next?:

Next things I’ll be doing is completing all the finishing touches to my editing. Along with test prints to ensure it’s all going to work together as I’m seeing it in my head :). Very soon I’ll be doing a full size exhibition print of one of the final images. I’ll then have it mounted as I’m planning to do for the exhibition. It’s all getting very real :)… Very exciting times ahead…

For those interested in the shot above. It was taken during our amazing trip to the remote outback of the far north west region of Australia. Here we are in Hidden Valley (Mirima) National Park just outside the town of Kununurra.

There was a bright moon in the sky behind and to my right, lighting most of the landscape but also washing out the stars quite a bit. I added a little light painting of the darker foreground below with my torch. The view here is across Hidden Valley with Kununurra itself just off on the right. The star trails consist of 149 x 46 second frames (from 8PM till 10PM).

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