Room #143 at the Madonna Inn is called Rock Bottom, and features rocks on the ceiling, walls, and floor. What a surreal experience. And the Flintstones never had this much luxury - the bathroom in Rock Bottom features a waterfall shower. Step inside this amazing room in the 360 panorama of Rock Bottom. You can also see 360 panoramas of 3 additional rooms.
This blog has been around since 2006. When I transitioned my website to Squarespace last year, I pulled a bunch of older content down for review. A lot of the photography news related posts were ephemeral, but they featured some fun toy camera photos. Thanks to a few rainy days, I've restored some of these posts with the photos only. Enjoy a bunch of Holga, sprocket Holga, Lensbaby, and pinhole photos in the newly refreshed Toy Cameras category.
I also updated and restored four 360 night panoramas. These images benefited greatly from using newer software for RAW processing, stitching, and presentation. Click on any of the panos for a virtual tour.
This 360 night panorama was shot during last weekend's night photography workshop at Big M Automotive. The Big M specializes in restoring 50's and 60's Plymouths and Mercurys. The black 1956 Plymouth convertible was recently restored and driven from California to Pennsylvania and back. The car won a restoration award last Sunday at the Arbuckle Car Show.
I believe the Ford Galaxie 500XL convertible is a 1962, please correct me if I'm wrong. The owner's beautiful red 1957 Fury, and a really nice white Imperial were parked outside the workshop. Big thanks to John for the hospitality.
Technical details: The 360 pano was photographed with a Canon EOS 6D and the 8-15mm fisheye lens at 12mm. This requires 4 shots around and one down (nadir). I bracketed 7 shots at each camera position, 1.5 stops apart.
The 35 images were processed in Lightroom, blended in Photomatix, stitched in PTGui, adjusted in Photoshop, and output using krpano. Aligning the verticals in PTGui proved to be tricky, as the barn's sliding door was at an angle.
Here's a view of the barn from right outside the door.
This image was shot with a Fuji X100s. The low light performance of the Fuji sensor is pretty incredible. No noise reduction was required at all for a clean file. Six shots were taken a stop apart, and processed into a 32-bit HDR TIFF using Lightroom.
Below is a group photo of the 7 lucky photographers who attended the night photography workshop. Thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm. More night photography from the Big M coming soon!
Friday, September 25, 2015
10:30 a.m. - Breakfast at Katz-N Jammers in Lancaster. A guy parked out front has a comically oversized ball hitch mount on his rear bumper. He tells us it's for towing the Space Shuttle. Desert humor.
11:30 a.m. - Apparently there are go-kart races going on, but it's so damn hot that we retreat to the air conditioned car. We visit Blackbird Airpark and Joe Davies Heritage Airpark. These adjacent parks are worth a look if you're in the area. They have an SR-71A and an A-12 on display. There's also a one-of-a-kind business jet prototype built by Burt Rutan.
12:30 p.m. - We drive across the desert to Victorville.
In Apple Valley, we encounter a car with MOAR downforce than mine.
4:00 p.m. - We arrive at our rental in Yucca Valley, and immediately learn how to operate the evaporative coolers. They work reasonably well.
5:30 p.m. - Dinner at Royal Siam in Joshua Tree. We sit at the same table as last time. I order the same thing. It's good.
7:00 p.m. - We drive out to Wonder Valley, the land of abandoned homesteads. Yeah, if you love forlorn, abandoned shacks, this is the place. Our friend and Joshua Tree resident David Dasinger shows us some good ones.
I started off with this photo of this abandoned camper, furniture, and detritus. This shot is 9 minutes at f/11, ISO 200 with long exposure noise reduction turned on due to the hot weather.
I turned around and walked about 10 feet before I set up this next shot. Two eight minute exposures were combined for 16 minute star trails -- both with noise reduction turned on. The EOS 6D allows you to buffer noise reduction until after your shots are over. The exposures run back-to-back so there's no gaps in the star trails, and then the camera runs noise reduction on both shots. During the 16 minutes that the camera is locked up, I got a snack and setup my next shot.
The fence posts around this abandoned house looked great from a lot of angles. The first shot is a 10 minute exposure, and the second shot is two 10 minute exposures, again with noise reduction on to combat the heat.
We scouted a few more abandoned homesteads, and made a few more photos before driving back to town.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
The next day we remained indoors to stay cool because it was over 100º outside. In the evening we stocked up on sandwiches and drinks, and checked out the sunset at Amboy Crater.
We spent a few hours shooting the abandoned Roadrunner's Retreat on Route 66 in Chambless. I shot sixteen 360 night panoramas. As the weather was still almost 90º, I continued to use noise reduction. Each panorama requires 4 shots around, which would fill up the 6D's buffer. After waiting a minute or so, I could take an optional nadir shot. By the time I had my next shot set up, the noise reduction was usually done.
This technique uses more battery life, but really helps keep the long exposure noise down. Shooting in a t-shirt and shorts is nice, but cooler weather sure is easier.
The initial panoramic stitching is done, but I still have many hours of post-processing before the ground is patched and tripod shadows removed. We also spent a little bit of time shooting at Roy's in Amboy, and then drove back to Joshua Tree for some sleep.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
The next day we made the 8 hour drive back to the Bay Area. Interstate 5 on the way home is always my least favorite part of the trip. I suppose we have to suffer for our art. I'm sure that hours of fixing the ground on these photos in Photoshop will confirm that theory once again.
For now, here's a 360 panorama with light painting from Roadrunner's Retreat. Click on the image for a larger view and enjoy!
Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark is out on Route 66 in the Mojave Desert, just up the road from the famous Roy's sign. You can hike to the top of the 250' cinder cone, but we just ate sandwiches in the parking lot instead because it was 93º outside. Take a look around from the vista point in the Amboy Crater 360 Sunset and Moonrise Panorama.
There are currently eight panoramas in the 360 night tour of Paul's Junkyard. This amazing Mojave Desert location has an active metal scrapping business, and also doubles as a storage yard for movie cars, old trucks, buses, farm equipment, and other wonderfully photogenic detritus.
These panoramas were shot during the October 2014 full moon using a Canon EOS 6D with an 8-15mm fisheye lens at 12mm. Most exposures were between 75-90 seconds at f/8, ISO 800. The images were processed in Lightroom, stitched in PTGui and Photoshop, and are displayed using krpano. Enjoy!