Making Panoramas in the Rainforest (part one)

Hi Folks:

I’ve been making digital panoramas for a lot of years now, and I’ve written at least a half-dozen different posts on different aspects of them. This one is for a specific case scenario rather than a general post on panoramas, but before we get too far, we need to cover a few basics. If you want to skip the basics and go straight to the rainforest part, click here.

First, understand that digital cameras don’t capture images. Digital cameras read light and render it as information; that information can be displayed in a way that makes it look like a photograph. All digital cameras capture raw files; not all digital cameras give you access to them. Now, raw files require digital post-processing on a computer (as compared to .jpg files, which are post-processed using an algorithm provided by the camera manufacturer and the processing power of the camera). The other side of that comparison is that raw files provide much more information to play with than .jpg files. This is especially important when shooting in the rainforest, as we’ll get to below.

Second, to do this with any degree of efficiency it’s important to understand at least the basics of colour management as it relates to cameras and computers. Remember: it’s less about accurate colour and more about consistent colour between devices.

So that we’re all on the same page, it’s important to understand the difference between a panoramic image and a digital panorama. Compare these two images:
(click on any image to see it larger)

a 1x4 aspect ratio image of the shoreline near Dallas Road in Victoria, BC. This is a grayscale image, with a winter storm bringing in waves from the left of the frame, and colliding with the rocks, driftwood and beach on the right.

Dallas Road shoreline, Victoria, BC

a digital panorama of sixty images, showing the north cliff face of Third Beach, near Tofino, BC. The ocean is on the left, and there's a small beach and some rocks in the foreground

Third Beach, Tofino, BC

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Shorepine Bog Trail

Hi Folks:

During our trips to Tofino (on Vancouver Island’s wet coast) we always like to invest some time in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. There are a few trails we like to visit, and one of them is the Shorepine Bog Trail. Now, if temperate rainforest brings to your mind a dark canopy of trees, a woodland filled with forest giants, this isn’t it. Instead think of spongy ground, poor soil quality and an abundance of acid-loving plants like sphagnum moss and Labrador tea. There are trees here as well, but poor growing conditions mean that they grow very slowly and die very slowly. These combine to create a largely open space with a mixture of both living trees and bleached, dead ones contorted into twisted shapes.
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Being Green – Good News?!?!?!

Hi Folks:  Well, Friday has come around once again and that means it’s ‘green day’ here for us.  Without question the biggest news in the world this week is the aftermath following the earthquake in Haiti.  If you’re interested you can find links to disaster relief sites here.  It’s events like this that bring the words ‘climate change’ into real focus.  It’s wonderful that so many millions of dollars and thousands of hours of effort have been offered in assisting the people of Haiti deal with what’s happened on their island; as Marcia said to me though, where were the funds to help them upgrade their infrastructure BEFORE this happened?

Ah well.  The title of this blog post is ‘Good News’ and all evidence to the contrary, there is good news to be found.  Last week’s post focused on what I see as the somewhat bewildering plethora of green building standards and certifications, but even that is good news in a way.  It wasn’t that many years ago that none of this existed.  One article I came across this week is titled ‘A Very Brief History of Sustainability‘.  These ideas continue to spread beyond building construction as well.  On the Sustainable Sites Initiative website you can find information on “The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009” (.pdf), which includes “all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance”.  There’s also a companion guide called “The Case for Sustainable Landscapes” (.pdf)  It brings a different slant to the idea of being ‘green’.  Another site I came across talks about greening up building operations and maintenance.  In the US these guidelines fall under the USGBC LEED for Existing Buildings – Operations and Maintenance Guide.  The article I read is titled, “LEED Cleaning – Why Not?“  Consider for a moment the wide range of chemicals used in traditional cleaning products and their effects on both the people using them and everyone else occupying the building after their use.  I certainly applaud less toxic alternatives!  Continue Reading →