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Archive for July, 2014

BIZCARDCOLOR1-smallComposite photos are used in a variety of applications. Composites are essentially several photos merged or stitched together to form a panoramic or a composite of two or more scenes together. You see this routinely with images of people over laid in front of a background on a business card or website. Such as the shameless plug on the left 😉


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The first composite style that I use allot is a panoramic stitch. You start by taking a series of photographs across a wide area say 180 to a full 360 degrees. Then you typically use software such as Microsoft’s ICE and stitch them together. This can be used to create some very dramatic panoramic images. It is important to keep the camera fairly level as you pan across the scene. It is equally important to allow significant overlapping so the software can find the similarities and stitch them cleanly. You can see the stitched photo above of Downtown Vancouver made from 12 vertically composed images covering 180 degrees.  I have always liked wide panoramas. These images can also be made to display in an interactive viewer environment such as the Microsoft Photosynth.

Couvevolcano2The next type of composite is often used in astronomical photography. Many exposures composite together to create amazing night sky visuals against a terrestrial foreground. I have used this technique to create views that would be either impossible or very difficult to achieve in one shot. These two photos of Downtown Vancouver were created by using an image of Mount Saint Helens that I took from Forest Park in Portland, OR looking across Vancouver to the Mountain. Then I took an image of Downtown Vancouver taken from Hayden Island at roughly the same angle as the Mountain shot. Couvesthelens-small-textThe Downtown image became the foreground and I masked out the background. I then painted in the mountain shot by reversing the mask and brushing in the new background. This gives the impression of a super long telephoto lens image creating a larger than life presence of the mountain in the background Sthelens-dtagainst the city in the foreground. In order to create this image without composite in one shot, I would need to be in an airplane over the Port of Portland somewhere near Swan Island with an 500-1000mm lens and the shot would be complicated by layers of utility poles and wires, trees, etc. The second shot would not be possible in one shot, the mountain is too big! The map to the right shows the line of sight and photo locations.

Composites can be a lot of fun and also help you create unique and even surreal imagery. Try it and have fun 🙂

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From Yerba Buena Island, Canon A-1 with FD 50mm f1.8 circa 1983

I was rolling through some old dusty 35mm Kodachrome 64 transparencies and found some interesting images I made when I was a much younger lad. When I say dusty, I don’t just mean figuratively, they are quite dirty. I cleaned them up as best I could and decided to run them through my old Minolta Dimage scanner. Ah, the eighties… tech was just beginning to show us a little peek at what might be.

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Canon New F-1 with FD 7.5mm f5.6 Fisheye, Embarcadero Center, circa 1985

Today’s modern digital wonders were a mere fantasy in the Star Trek universe and other Sci-Fi dreams of whimsy. But none the less, sometimes one must wax nostalgic and the 1980s were to put it simply; A blast! I spent a great deal of time scampering about fire escapes looking for the ideal cityscape and scrambling through the woods seeking that perfect glimpse of nature to record for posterity.

I have included a few of these 30-year-old vintage Kodachromes here. Kodachrome is the only film I know of immortalized in music with Paul Simon’s classic “Kodachrome”. It really was that good.

Well today I present to you a peek at the collection of images made in San Francisco, California in the 1980s. most of these were cityscapes as I had a thing for them and I still do fancy me a good urban landscape. It doesn’t get anymore urban than San Francisco which lays claim to being the 2nd most densely populated city in North America, behind New York. The City by the Bay has but only 850,000 residents, but they are packed onto a tiny piece of dirt covering a mere 46 square miles. That means she is packing them in nearly 18,000 per square mile. Here in the ‘Couv’ we have a density of about 3,500 per square mile and our larger neighbor south of the river, Portland is just north of 4,500 per square mile. Even the tightly packed Vancouver, BC is about 12,000 per square mile.

Yes she is a hell of a city to soak up an urban view. In the 1980s, San Francisco was a cleaner and more presentable environment than it is today. My recent visits have left me disappointed in the “condition” of the city. It is however the best city on the West Coast to get a true urban experience, the good, the bad and the ugly 😉

Photography in the film days was harder. You either had to bracket like crazy burning up expensive film and processing or you had to really understand light. It was a tough gig and I made a long go of it and did OK, but I must say the modern digital age has revolutionised image making and in many ways for the better. But today’s photographers often miss out on “seeing” light. This is where you wait for that “moment” and capture the image. Now we take pix and process to fit the mood we want to convey. I guess I am all good with that but I am also very happy to have been a part of the “old” ways as well. Take a little trip back in time about 30 years and peer into a window of San Francisco’s past.

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101 California, circa 1985. Canon New F-1 with Sigma 16mm f2.8 Fisheye

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Financial District circa 1985. Canon New F-1 with Sigma 16mm f2.8 Fisheye

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One Embarcardero Center, circa 1984. Canon A-1 with FD 28mm f 2.8

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Looking North from the old Carnelian Room on floor 52 bank America Tower, circa 1985. Canon New F-1 with Sigma 16mm f2.8 Fisheye

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“Old Man” North Beach, circa 1987, Canon T-90 with FD 135mm f2.0

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100 Montgomery Street, Financial District, circa 1987, Canon T-90 with Sigma 16mm f2.8 Fisheye

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Market Street, circa 1984, Canon A-1 with FD 20mm f2.8

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101 California, circa 1987. Canon T-90 with FD 17mm f4.0

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Financial District from up high, circa 1985. Canon New F-1 with Sigma 16mm f2.8 Fisheye

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Aftermath of the Loma Prieta Quake, Cypress Structure, Oakland, CA circa 1989, Canonet QL17 rangefinder

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High Above Market Street, circa 1985. Canon New F-1 with Sigma 16mm f2.8 Fisheye

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