Pearsonville junkyard night panoramas and status report

The three night panoramas of the Pearsonville Junkyard from the February 2011 full moon will give you a pretty good idea of the state of things in the yard. About 60-65% of the cars have been crushed and hauled away. The walled in yard along the south wall that had late 40′s and early 50′s Buicks is completely empty. The large back lot is pretty cleared out — there are still trucks and buses at the north end, the 2 stretch cabs, a few vehicles at the south end, and a little group in the middle that includes the Cadillac camper. The Edsels and Cadillacs along the raceway still remain. An S for Save was spray painted on the windshield of many cars.

The racetrack infield is largely unchanged. The center Mopar yard has been pretty cleared out. The north west section that Troy Paiva and I refer to as the north 40 in our workshops is still full of cars — it’s really like a greatest hits up there now. Cars from the walled in Buick yard and back lot have been moved in to fill the gaps left by cars that were removed from the north 40. The infamous Dialog truck is now along the border between the Mopar yard and back lot. The Knight Rider 2010 car is still up front. There’s a beautiful Mustang Mach 1 near the warehouse building. I’ll be posting more night photos over the next week or so. If you’re wondering whether a particular car is still there feel free to ask.

Digital night panorama technique

All three panoramas were made using a Canon 5D Mark II and 24-70/2.8L lens, and stitched together with the cylindrical projection option in Photoshop. The lens was at or near the 24mm setting. The camera was in landscape format for the first pano, and mounted vertically using an L-bracket for the other two. The camera was set to a Manual exposure of 90 seconds at f/8 ISO 400. The 5D II works fine at ISO 400 when the weather is cold — this setting allowed a shorter shutter speed to contend with cloud movement.

I recently installed an Acratech Leveling Base on my tripod — this light weight and well crafted accessory allows you to quickly level your tripod without fussing with each leg. Stitching is much easier when the area that you pan from is perfectly level in each shot. The base sits between your tripod and ballhead, adding 8 oz. and 1.77″ in height. Ideally, you could also use a nodal rail to position the lens at the no-parallax point (often incorrectly referred to as nodal point) — but the stitching software in CS4 and CS5 works so well that it wasn’t a problem. Using a rail is more crucial for tricky interiors or shots with subjects within 10-15 feet of the camera.

During post-processing in Lightroom I made sure to correct for lens distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting. After finishing the post-processing in Lightroom I selected all of the files and the chose Photo — Edit In — Merge to Panorama in Photoshop. To test panoramas to see if they’re worth processing at full resolution, I’ll sometimes export a 2000 pixel jpeg of the files and stitch those in Photoshop. I use a Lightroom export preset for these smaller jpegs that puts the images into a folder called panorama test. The first panorama of the walled in yard would require some extra work on the sky for printing. The other two panos stitched remarkably well with no additional post-processing required.

I hope the photos bring back good memories for those of you lucky enough to attend one of our workshops. Stay tuned for more photos.

18 thoughts on “Pearsonville junkyard night panoramas and status report”

  1. That breaks my heart. I’ll get over it, because I’ve gotten over a lot of lost locations over the years, but this one’ll take me longer than usual.

    Good thing we have that cool new place to do workshops . . .

  2. Thanks for this great tutorial AND for giving us a glimpse of present day Pearsonville. I’ve been wondering what the yard looks like these days.

    1. Haven’t found out yet if they’re planning to crush much more, or if this will be the state of things for a while. Stay tuned for more photos.

    1. The blue bus at the south end? That’s still there. The 2 rows of trucks and buses along the back north wall are also largely unchanged (milk truck, Nazarene, Charley Brown, etc.).

  3. It actually looks better than I anticipated (from Troy’s first email). I was pretty depressed about it for days afterwards, but probably nothing compared what you guys felt. But I do envy you guys for having had the opportunity to go and spend that many nights there. I was completely hooked after 3 nights.

    A couple questions:

    1. Do you think Pearson would still let people go shoot there (for a reasonable pot of $$$)?

    2. Are you guys going back? If so I’d love to join (although I know night shooters tend to be loners).

    3. Did they crush the Chrysler Newport from the Mopar section? My guess is yes. What about the yellow Buick from the walled section? My guess is no. What about the Packard from the back lot? Just to get a sense of where they drew the line.

    1. 1. If you have an established relationship and good approach, maybe.
      2. I haven’t talked to Troy about it yet.
      3. The tilted up red Newport is still there. There was a light green ’59 Buick in the walled section that’s now up front. I didn’t see the Packard, but could have missed it up front — still a lot of cars up there.

  4. Excellent blog post and panorama shots Joe. I’m less despondent now after reading your post and seeing your shots. Looks like there is still plenty to shoot under a full moon?! Disneyland for light painters still exists……!

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