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Megapixels to Gigapixels Panoramic Photography Workshop | November 21st, 2014

Panoramic Photography Workshop

Day 1

The first day of our 3-day Megapixels to Gigapixels Panoramic Photography workshop is really one of the most important. Day 1 lays the foundation for the remainder of the course. The foundation is the most important aspect, because it the base on which everything else is built.

We had a great group of students, some from Northern and Southern California, and a few out of state pupils as well. After we got to know everyone, Stephen began his presentation. He demonstrated why we need some specialized equipment when shooting panoramic images. Stephen also addressed the extreme detail and superior image quality attainable with multi-row panos. After the powerful presentation, we setup some tables with wine bottles, in order to assist with finding the ever-important nodel point. The nodel is where it’s at, as it eliminates parallax. The definition is parallax is, a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight, and is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines. If you’ve ever done an iPhone pano, you’ve seen parallax. The image appears bowed or bent. The pano gear and finding the nodel point, greatly reduces or eliminates parallax. This very cool equipment allows up to line up the very center of the lens over the center f the tripod, this is the nodel point. We worked in groups of 2 and assisted everyone with locating that oh so important nodel point. If the nodel point is right, it makes our job easy on day 3.

The fun part was after all nodel points were found and noted, we enjoyed those bottles of wine that assisted us in our exercise.

Day 2

The second day is our “in the field” day. The fun part! Stephen and I met up with the students that second morning, to depart for San Francisco. Mother Nature was sure making us nervous. It rained the entire drive up to the city. The weather forecasters said this rain would break around 10:30am. We timed our arrival at Twin Peaks, accordingly.

As we got closer and closer, the rain had started to lighten and we could see a patch of blue on the horizon. Could it be…the storm was going to break right on queue? Well it sure did. As we made our ascent up to the top of the hill, we could see sunlight. Twin Peaks looked epic. A mix of blue sky and clouds with a crystal clear skyline. It took a little while to get set up, and just as we had the students lay down their first row of images, a cloudy fog covered the city. However it was fast moving so it was simply a waiting game. It gave us just enough time to ensure that all were set up and ready to shoot. It was a classic San Francisco, now you see it, now you don’t. Then we got to see it again, in all its amazing glory. What a beautiful scene, and a fantastic way to begin day 2.

Our next stop was Fort Point. While the Twin Peaks location was a nice, get your feet wet shot, the Fort was just the opposite. Close elements that can difficult to stitch if your nodel point is off. The beautiful weather continued and we set the students up in two different locations, one within the fort and also on the roof. Standing up on the top of Fort Point is a glorious view. San Francisco and Sausalito views, not to mention you’re right underneath the glorious Golden Gate Bridge.

After shooting it, we drove over the Golden Gate, into Sausalito for a nice late lunch. Once appetites were satiated, we made our way up to the Marin Headlands, and Hawk Hill. Another fantastic vista of the city, this time framed through the Golden Gate. It’s an iconic and magnificent scene. Stephen and I assisted with both multi and single row panos. The students are really starting to get in the flow and are ready to go to our final location.

The Palace of Fine Arts was our last stop. We definitely saved the best for last. As the sun was setting we ensured that all were set and ready to roll. The best light goes fast, so we had to make sure that the setup was correct in order to optimize the light. Once the sun is down and the sky starts to deepen, it’s referred to as the Blue Hour. Of course it’s not really an hour, more like 10 to 15 min’s. When exposures are long, this time goes fast. Stephen and I made sure that everyone had a nice cool white balance. The proper white balance in camera helps on the post processing side. That post processing side was next up.

We wrapped up an amazing day in the city and made our way back to the studio.

Day 3

Our last day was where the rubber meets the road. If those nodel points are correct the post processing will go smooth. Stephen went over the basics of stitching in Photoshop CS6. He went through the process on one of his images from the Palace of Fine Arts. Having the students follow along on their own image if they so chose. Afterwards it was time for the students to start working on their own images. We wanted them to process one photo from each location.

Some had an image or two that posed some difficulty, which required some adjustments to the stitching type. Also a little warp tool here and there to provide a little nip/tuck in just the right places, worked wonders.

Jan Silverman was on hand to help out with the processing and also to assist in selecting one image for print. The multi row panos take quite some time to process, as the file size gets up into the gigabites. These large files are what provide us with razor sharp images at just about any size.

All of the students really captured some lovely images of our iconic and beautiful San Francisco. Another successful Megapixels to Gigapixels class was in the books and it was time to say bid our fond farewells to all of our fantastic students.

Until Next Time,

Thank you from Stephen, Ellie, Jan and the entire Aperture Academy Team!

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