Tuesday, March 29, 2011

P&S: behind the scene Pano, Horseshoe Bay, BC

I know a lot of you use point & Shoot cameras to document your journey(s). I use a P&S as my regular pocket camera but when I want to do more serious stuff I use my dSLR. I have a Canon G10 which doesn't really get much use as it does not have HD video but it shoots RAW and is nearly, fully adjustable. My Lumix ZS3 gets the most use and it produces very nice 720p AVCHD video. This camera is now 2 generations old and only has Auto modes which can be a problem when stitching images together. The light levels will not be constant throughout the scene meaning that your camera will probably chose different shutter/aperature settings for every photo which will be a problem with colour balance as a panoramic image may be anywhere from 100° - 180° view. I have a work around which you may wish to try for yourself. My normal panos are usually produced from 3 images. Now this will work for landscapes where your focus point is nearly at infinity (or any point farther than, perhaps 30 ft).

I first survey the scene before me to determine the light values and decide which slice of the scene before me I wish to capture. I do all of my Panos, hand-held, which isn't the best. Really you should use a levelled tripod otherwise you cannot be sure you take every shot on the same horizontal plane. Once I determine what I wish to photograph I point my camera at what will be the middle image in my perceived scene and I notice what settings the camera has chosen. I also make a mental note of where my centre focus point is. I gently "click" the shutter and wait a moment for the camera to go back to ready mode. While all this is happening I make sure that I do not move my camera from its position as I have to rotate the camera on its nodal point, which is the mid-point distance from the sensor to the end of the lens. Do not assume that the tripod socket is the nodal point, as it is not.

With the camera in exactly the same position as was used to take the first photo I gently press the shutter button half way to lock focus and exposure. I make sure that the centre focus point is on top of what it was on the first photo and look at the settings the camera has chosen, and it should be the same as was used on the first photo. With the shutter button still half depressed, I now rotate the camera to take photo two. It doesn't matter whether you take the left one or the right one but rotate the camera on it's nodal point making sure to keep the same horizontal plane and allow at least 25% overlap. Remember not to move the camera from its original position.

When the camera is ready, focus again as you took the first photo and rotate to take the third one. It is easier to do this than it is to explain it. You can probably take all three photos in this sequence in about 5 seconds. Of course you are not limited to only 3 photos, you can use many more For stitching panoramic images I use a FREE program called Autostitch.

Here is a link to where you can download it


After you start the program go first to Edit, Options and you will get a screen like this


Don't change too many numbers but pay attention to those two boxes numbered 1 and 2. This is where you can control how large your resultant jpeg is. You can take a small megapixel camera and cumulate the pixels added by each image and end up with a very large file. For best printing results stick with 300 dpi

Note: make sure all your images are in the same directory, preferably consecutively numbered and hold Shift/click to select all the ones in the sequence. The program then starts processing without warning, all done automatically before your eyes

Here is the image which was produced by my Lumix ZS3 using my work-around technique comprised of 7 separate 10 MP images

horseshoebay2 crop 27mar
(Lumix ZS3 stitched from 7 images using Autostitch)

for the full sized version from Photobucket, click here <------- * * Make sure to click "+" to go to full size

Now go and try it for yourself

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Farkle & family Sunday

Recently I purchased a farkle for my V-strom, not really needed but I have trouble trying to find the non-existent 7th gear all the time. While I usually stay away from the freeway, I sometimes find myself on it and then I start shifting through the gears to merge with traffic. I lose count of shifts and when I notice the tach around 6,000 rpms I try to shift one more time and there is nothing left. On the VEE, DL1000 there is an OD: Overdrive Light which lets you know you are in 6th. There is no OD light on the DL650 Wee. The only solution was to purchase the GiPro S04 with ATRE.

(HealTech, Gear Indicator: Advanced Timing Retard Eliminator)

It is designed to be a simple plug & play installation and from discussions on various V-strom forums, most intelligent riders can perform this operation in around half an hour, without having to remove the gas tank The digital display is connected to a harness whereby you remove your GPS: Gear Position Sensor and plug it into the harness AND another plug just goes where the GPS sensor used to be. There is one other wire where you connect to any switched +12V power. I decided to utilize the OEM plug for the factory heated grips which was not used. My heated grips are connected to another source. I visited the dealer to pick up one of these OEM plugs so that I would not have to splice into any factory harnesses and I noticed this Red Gladius for sale


I just thought that Trobairitz would be interested in the MSRP up here as a comparison to Oregon prices. No such luck, I left empty-handed. I decided that this being such a simple job I would just go down to EMS and have Ted connect the +12V switched power and I routed the LED display to the dash and pasted it onto the Tachometer face. I could always move it later to another position


I learned a lot today about the wiring of the V-strom. It was so simple that even I could do it next time. The most time consuming part of this whole procedure was trying to remove the Gear Position sensor from it's plug. You need hands of a 2 year old and a thin flat head screw driver to push those plastic wedge tabs in to release the two halves of the plug. In my case you have to remove the rear left panel to gain access

Suzuki retards the timing on the first 4 gears (1,2,3 & 4) to help with emission control. The ATRE function of this unit restores full power to the lower gears. There is not much power difference on the DL650, but it makes a big improvement to the DL1000. It also disables the speed limiter to allow you an unrestricted top speed



Petrol report:


Give or take a penny, fuel in Vancouver is around $1.34+ to $1.33 / litre

At $1.337 per litre, this works out to: $5.06 per US gallon


Another sunny Family Day has rolled around. I don't usually ride on Sundays so we were off to Squamish for Lunch. Squamish is a little town about an hour north of Vancouver on the Sea-to-Sky highway. It is surrounded by mountains and is a very fast growing community thanks to the Winter Olympics of 2010


It looks cold but it is warm in the sunshine, perhaps around 10°c . This is a favorite place for windsurfers later in the year as the winds are very brisk, today not so much


Nearly in the middle of the above photo you can see Shannon Falls which at 335 meters is the third highest waterfall in British Columbia


I would have to say that Logging is the main industry in this area.


For some reason I am attracted to this area. Everytime I come to Squamish I come to the Squamish Marina, to enjoy the view and snap a few photos. Today it was as if it were spring with warmth from the sun


A few miles further North in Brackendale we stopped to admire nature and the recent snowfall on the mountain


They have announced a new ski development near Squamish and there is lots of construction activity with new condos and homes. Some big box stores have just been built for the growing population. I pointed my lens to a slightly different direction and here is another mountain with fresh snow


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring, Part Deux

This is a continuation of the first day of Spring. I had been waiting for a sunny weekend day to scout out a suitable spot to take a photo of Vancouver's skyline. Now I know that most of you have seen the skyline viewing south towards the central downtown area but that is the view most tourists remember as the tour buses transverse Stanley Park and stop at the Totem Poles where visitors most often take their vacation photos. Less obvious is the view looking northward from the south shore of False Creek which I prefer as you will see the Vancouver is surrounded by several mountains. It would appear that we located in the foothills of a vast mountain range. Vancouver is surrounded by water on 3 sides so most often your commute to the downtown area will involve a bridge, a ferry or an AquaBus .

Although it looked like a sunny spring day, the light was flat. Photographers know that the worst time to take a photo is at high noon due to the poor quality of light. Back in the days of film, this was when I would switch to Black & White. Here is the scene as would appear to your naked eye

(Jpg straight out of the camera, no additional processing)

Normal perspective approximates 45 mm as equated to 35mm . In the days before digital and crop sensors, cameras were originally supplied with 45mm standard lenses. Then for some reason they adopted 50mm as the standard, which is slightly telephoto. Now a photo taken with a 50mm lens takes an angle of view of approx 39°, while viewing with your eyes you will see nearly 180° (slightly less). . So a mere single image cannot convey the beauty of the scene before you as a photo is just a small slice of what I want you to experience. I want you to see the beauty of Vancouver from a perspective you have not have seen before. I want you to view the mountains behind. The West End of Vancouver was once the most densely populated area in North American, and it may still be and construction has not stopped. It has now expanded to the north shore of False Creek into the area which was once the showcase of the world, Expo 86.

Now Lori (Beemergirl) made a recent comment regarding PP: Post Processing of images

beemer 24mar2011

I am in the habit of posting more than a few photos and I cannot spare the time to individually edit or further process every photo that goes through my camera. I also do not shoot RAW in the normal course of gathering photos to post. Perhaps if I had a photo blog and only posted a single photo and a small paragraph with a few descriptive words I could change my procedures.

I grew up in the film age and used mainly Medium Format Cameras and delegated digital for snapshots. Eventually this changed and digital progressed to the point where digital was overtaking film. I first discovered this when I took my 120 film in for processing and my lab no longer provided optically produced prints. Rather they scanned your negatives and produced prints on their LightJet printer. Now I had to add in scanning charges. For prints up to a certain size you could get by with smaller scans, but for prints in my normal size of 16x20 I needed to pay for the larger scans. So I put my professional film cameras away and stopped producing large prints for a couple of years. Now digital has progressed to the point where it out resolves medium format film . Now I have played around with Photoshop 5 and 6 many years ago and it was just too confusing so I gave up. This is not to say that I haven't purchased dSLRs but I just haven't gotten into the RAW mode. When you shoot JPG your photos have already been processed by your camera; sharpness, white balance, blah, blah.

Last year I decided to purchase my 3rd dSLR for my big trip as I wanted something for lower light levels, and I have been devoting lots of my spare time into learning about ICC printer profiles and also some editing. I purchased a new wide carriage printer so I can print at home. For the past few months I have been reading tutorials and experimenting with editing photos.

(A sliver of a view looking north from the south shore of False Creek)

This was taken with a 55-250mm kit lens, unedited. As I mentioned before, the light was flat

Here is the same photo with slight processing to warm up the colour temperature, and perhaps minor curve adjustment

(Slightly processed, change in colour temperature)

Now, I still haven't shown you the skyline view that I wanted you to see. From my vantage point here is an image taken with my Sigma 10-20mm UWA: Ultra Wide Angle lens

(Sigma 10-20 mm UWA lens EF-s mount)

I suppose you could crop out the skyline and post the image in a panoramic ratio but you would not have enough pixels at 300 dpi to make a large print if you so desired. Right now this image doesn't look very impressive but at least you can imagine the view and see the mountains behind.

I decided to do a panorama using my 55-250mm telephoto lens, hand-held. This sequence was produced using 9 images. I metered for the scene then switched to manual mode so that all exposures were the same, which aids in colour balancing. There was a generous amount of overlap, perhaps as much as a third. Also the resultant stitched image was sharpened, curves applied, a slight warmth of colour temperature and contrast enhancement.

(Vancouver skyline looking north from False Creek)

My normal host for photos is Webshots but for some reason they limit the actual size that can be viewed even if you hit the Plus (+) key

so for the full image from Photobucket click here then click the "+" key

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1st day of Spring 2011, a walk in the Canyon

The rains stopped, the sun came out and the birds started to chirp. It was Sunday morning, the first day of a new season and there was warmth in the air . Unless there is some 2-wheeled event going on, I don't usually ride on Sundays. Instead we go out for brunch and sometimes a ride into the country to exercise my cameras. Today was no different. We had our brunch and ended up in Capilano Canyon over in North Vancouver

(Chinook Salmon:Sigma 10-22mm UWA EF mount)

There are many trails in this area and it had been a while since I walked to the 2nd viewpoint. There is a parking area near the fish hatchery (No parking charges = FREE)


This facility is located along the banks of the Capilano river and at the bottom of a narrow slot canyon. You take a self guided tour to see the displays and read the posted placards. At the end you come to the tanks where the fishlings are nourished until their release into the open ocean. There are fish ladders for them to bypass the rapids caused by the rushing waters and jagged rocks


At the start of the trail there is an elevated walkway


As it would get very messy having to walk on the muddy ground below . You soon come to a pedestrian bridge


which transverses the Capilano River and brings you to the trail on the west side . It is a mainly flat trail but would be considered a mountain if you compared to the highest point down in KW FL


The trail starts out with a thick canopy and soon you come to what looks like a rain forest with green moss. I would imagine that there is not much sunlight down in the Canyon which keeps the vegetation wet and moist


I like the green moss and it reminds me of my trip to Haida Qwai'i a few years ago


It feels good to get back to nature and enjoy the solitude of being alone with just the trees around you. During the summer the trails are very crowded, today was the exception and I had the place nearly to myself

Before long, we get to the end


There is a double platform with a northward view of the Cleveland Dam straight ahead. I remember a time on a hot summer day when they let excess water down the spillway and there was a heavy cloud of mist. So thick that it was hard to photograph without getting all your camera gear wet. Today it was just a trickle

After we left the park I decided to drive up to the Dam and get the view from up there, looking down at the platform


The flowing water has a hypnotic effect of drawing your eyes and you feel as if you should just jump over and "go with the flow". It reminds me of that Harrison Ford movie "The Fugitive" in the scene where he comes out and has to jump down the dam in order to escape. I tried to get rid of the queasy feeling and stepped back from the cement wall. I don't have a great fear of heights but I am not comfortable when it comes to looking far down from high above.

I mounted my telephoto lens and took this shot of the 2nd viewpoint below, where we were a short time earlier

(Canon EF-s 55-250 is)

Which brings me to my favourite scene of the day

(Capilano Canyon)

With the exception of the 2nd from the last photo, all images were shot with a Sigma UWA 10-22 mm lens

Saturday, March 19, 2011

If it's Saturday, then it's . . .

Time for your weekly bath. Those were wise words of my Grandmother when I was a youngster. I remember those days on Saturday nights when you would fill your bathtub and then wait for the electric hot water heater to "catch up". Often we would have to boil water in a pot on the stove and pour it into the tub to help get the water warmer. And when you were finished it was time to clean all those dirt rings.

So Saturday had arrived and I had thoughts of actually taking a few photos.
I was shamed into it by a couple of my blogger buddies

comments mar 2011

My day started with pounding rain on my window but I was determined to ride to breakfast on my V-strom. I packed a small assortment of alternative lenses, loaded my bags into my sidecase and headed out. The forecast was for clearing periods around noon so I went home to print an enlargement and after an hour or so it was time to ride somewhere so I could get a few snapshots and a snack to tide me over until dinner. I am trying to decide where to go and I finally ended up on Granville Island

(Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm F 2.8 mounted on Canon T2i)

where parking was a premium. There are not many vacant spaces but I find my usual spot by the bike rack. In past years you were allowed to park for 2-3 hours. This year I notice that all the free spots have a 30 minute limit. And believe me when I say this area is heavily patrolled. There are parking enforcement people all over the place just waiting to give you a ticket. There are many paid areas and I think they are trying to make the closer spots turn over faster to bring in more people. I don't think there is a time limit in the bike rack area.

(Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm F 2.8 mounted on Canon T2i)

I just had to take another shot of my V-strom looking West towards the Burrard Steet Bridge. It may not be a Yamaha Super Tenere but it gets me where I need to be. Eat your heart out Mr GeorgeF .

All photos were taken with a Canon T2i EOS Rebel body so I will only make reference to the alternative lens used with the appropriate adapter. (Pentax = M42 -> EOS , Contax Zeiss = C/Y -> EOS , Nikon = Ai -> EOS ) . All outdoor photos were either at ISO 200 or 400 F 5.6-8 , all indoor photos are ISO 400 wide open). No processing. JPGs straight out of the camera, NO levels, NO curves, NO editing, NO tricks .

(Pentax SMC Takumar 35mm 3.5 M42)

(Mr Seagull: Pentax SMC Takumar 35mm 3.5 M42)

Somehow the Seagull got in the way on this one

(Pentax SMC Takumar 35mm 3.5 M42)

Over the years I had accumulated a few Ai manual focus Nikon Nikkor lenses, and I found this one which I didn't realize I had

(Burrard Bridge: Nikon Nikkor 28mm F 2.0 Ai)

Most lenses used in daylight at 5.6 or F8 are sharp. The true test is at lower light levels wide open

(Granville Island Market: Nikon Nikkor 28mm F 2.0 ISO 400 Ai)

Did I mention I also needed some substenance. I had this Butter Chicken Ricebowl. At a cost of $8.00 + 12% HST, it wasn't worth it. The Nikkor 28mm is not a macro but it focuses to 10"

(Nikon Nikkor 28mm F 2.0 Ai)

(Nikon Nikkor 28mm F 2.0 Ai)

I changed to the Carl Zeiss lens and shot this same subject. The Zeiss is slightly wider

(Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm 2.8 C/Y mount)

The side door was open so I shot inside the pie place

(Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm 2.8 C/Y mount)

Self Portrait:(Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm F8.0)

Which brings me to my title subject. I went home and washed my Baby. I was shamed into it by Doug

It's only about 80% by Doug's standards, but it's a start and now I can see out of the windshield.

(Canon T2i, Zeiss Distagon 25mm 5.6 ISO 200, 580EX fill flash, remote control)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring ahead

Well, it's not yet Spring but we have moved our clocks ahead one hour. It's just one more sign that the end of Winter is nearing. Last weekend I also noticed a few flip-flops in action. Soon enough I can change into my shorts too. Not lucky RED shorts that Geoff wears but a more conservative, subdued colour.


Petrol was $1.311 /ltr the other day = $4.96 /US gallon . Today it has gone up to $1.327 /ltr . I don't know why as oil went down on the world markets. Lucky I don't have a gas guzzling SUV. I can't imagine having to shell out over $100. for a tank of gasoline.

I go to work early and our temps are still hovering around freezing. Yesterday I was very tempted to ride and I was humming and hawing and in the end decided to use my Honda. When I left I had to scrape the ice off the windshield even though it was around 2°C (Above freezing) so I think I made the right decision. A couple of hours later I looked out my office window and saw the sun come out and the rest of the afternoon was just beautiful and perfect for riding.


Earlier in the week I did manage to commute on my V-strom but since we moved our clocks ahead, the mornings are darker. It's a trade off but I would rather have usuable daylight after work, than before.

You all probably know that I am a hobbyist and I like to experiment with my photographic equipment. I still have a lot of stuff hidden away but lately I have been playing around with old, classic, prime-lenses. I managed to acquire a set of Takumar SMC M42 screw mount lenses along with an SP body which appears to work just fine. I also recently picked up an M42 SMC Takumar 28mm 3.5 courtesy of CL

I have been busily ordering adapters off eBay so I can drag out more stuff I have hidden away. I have noticed many people have been getting great results from their Zeiss lenses. ZF, ZM, ZE, ZA, ZK etc I wasn't sure what all this meant but basically Zeiss stopped lens production a decade ago but decided to bring out new lenses in popular mounts. I don't have the desire to spend funds on new lenses but I remembered that I still had a couple of classic Zeiss lenses and my Contax 139 quartz body in C/Y mount.


Being a member of the British Commonwealth it was easier to select a vendor which shipped from Hong Kong for then I can have my items shipped to me directly to my work address, with shipping included using EMS (Express Mail Service). If I order from a USA vendor I have to ship to Point Roberts, WA then waste a half a day to cross the border and pick it up. Also I have to pay the HST (12%), and duty, if applicable. Small dollar items up to around equivalent C$40. are usually exempted from both HST and duty.

(C/Y to EOS adapter)

It only takes around 10-14 days from time of clicking my mouse to receiving the goods. (C/Y = Contax Yashica)

(Zeiss Planar 50mm 1.4, mounted on Contax 139 Quartz)

The Zeiss 50mm 1.4 is probably one of the finest 50mm lens made

I also had a 25mm 2.8 Distagon T*

(Zeiss Distagon 25mm 2.8 T*)

With the use of this adapter, I am now able to use these fine lenses on my EOS Canon T2i body

(Zeiss 50mm 1.4 Planar, mounted on Canon T2i)

Lenses are used in manual, stop-down meter mode, aperature priority. Focusing is very smooth and you have a distance/focus scale


I find that prime lenses are usually sharper as they have been optimized for that specific focal length . You loose a little convenience as you have to let your legs do the zooming, either that, or you have to be more creative in cropping your subjects.