The Valley Junkyard workshop is a great way to improve your night photography and light painting techniques. My co-instructor Troy Paiva and I also cover composition, color theory, and post processing during the daytime sessions. The last workshop sold out quickly. Registration for the fall workshop opens to our email list on June 9th, and to the world on June 10th. Contact me if you’d like to sign up!
During last week’s IVRPA conference in Las Vegas, I arranged an after hours photo tour at the Neon Musem. The museum runs 1 hour guided tours during the day and evening, but no tripods or monopods are allowed. About once a month they have a night shoot that allows tripods. Big thanks to the talented photographer eyetwist, who gave me the lowdown, and to Erin at the museum for the hospitality. We had 7 photographers and 2 videographers in our group, which maxed out the small museum space.
As we only had 1 hour in the boneyard, I shot my 360 panos at 4 shots around, using a Canon EOS 6D with the 8-15mm fisheye lens at 12mm. This sacrifices some resolution for speed, producing images that are just over 10,000×5,000 (50 megapixels). I shot a 3 image bracket at each camera position, with exposures of +/- 1.5 stops.
Many of the amazing old neon signs were lit with bright LED lighting that scrolls through different colors every few seconds. I knew this was going to make both shooting HDR and blending the panoramas a challenge. Surprisingly, Photomatix Fusion didn’t have any problems blending the bracketed images, even though the color and intensity sometimes changed between exposures.
Next, I imported the images into PTGui Pro. Here’s how the pano looked after stitching, but before blending across images.
Las Vegas Neon Museum 360 Degree Night Panorama – Unblended
I tested PTGui, Smartblend, and Photoshop, and the PTGUI blender did the best job feathering the different colored lighting. Adjusting the masking in PTGui helped fine tune the transition areas.
Once I was happy with the results, I used Pano2VR Pro to create the interactive panorama. This pano is my first test using the new HTML5 multiresolution feature. As time permits, I will add a few more panoramas from the Neon Museum and create a virtual tour.
Today I was lucky enough to visit the Pier 24 exhibit A Sense of Place before it closes at the end of May. Pier 24 is an amazing, free photography museum right under the Bay Bridge. Only 20 people are allowed in at a time to view an amazing selection of photos. This exhibit explores how photographs shape our perception of environments. I really enjoyed seeing work by Paul Graham, Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Edward Burtynsky, Todd Hido, and Rinko Kawauchi. The absolute highlight was an entire room full of Lee Friedlander’s America by Car series. Unfortunately this book is currently out of print. And speaking of print, Pier 24 has exhibition catalogs from some of their previous shows available at very reasonable prices. The next exhibit is scheduled to open in August of 2014.
Time-lapse technical details: The time-lapse was shot with a Ricoh GR camera on a strap around my neck. The exposures were 1/30 at f/4, ISO 800. The camera was set to shoot small jpegs every 2 seconds. The resulting 1,425 images were minimally processed and then cropped to 1280×720 in Lightroom. The time-lapse was assembled and output in Photoshop. Titles and music were added in iMovie. The music is Perfect Dream from the 2006 self-titled album by Natural Dreamers.
Still, if the only goal were to attain quick visibility in the art world, the formula (at least on paper) is absurdly simple: devote ten percent of your effort to artmaking, and ninety percent to marketing and self-promotion. But that gambit works (when it does work) only as long as you keep sprinting down the fame & fortune treadmill — pause for an instant and it’s a straight drop into oblivion. The fact that cultivated fame has little substance behind it, however, hardly slows the stampede. In our media-dominated culture it’s an open question whether fame is the result of accomplishment, or whether fame — all by itself — is the accomplishment.
Ian Smith is a marquetry artist based in the UK. He creates amazing hand made images by designing, cutting, and laying out wood veneers. A few months ago he completed a wood version of a 360 night panorama that I shot of an old gas station in Desert Center, California. The gas station piece was a hit in a recent art show, and will soon be making the journey from England to California, where it will be displayed on my wall.