Archive for the ‘Panoramas’ Category

Lincoln Memorial

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I just love that shot of the Lincoln Memorial I posted recently. The snow scape, imposing angle, and most importantly the diffuse sunlight just make it seem so post apocalyptic. Well, if you ask people from D.C. maybe it was. But the sense is ruined by the multitude of people in the shot. So I removed them with the gimp, except for Emma, the fur hooded figure in the far foreground. I think it’s certainly an improvement.

I could have really used content aware fill, but sadly that feature isn’t in the gimp yet (actually looks like maybe it is, but plug-ins are way too much work). Lucky for me snow is very organic and the smudge brush emulates it well enough. It is also pretty good at background plant matter. Anyways, it in fact looks nothing like the Logan’s Run Lincoln Memorial, at least from the movie, but oh well.

Roswell – March 2010

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

I spent much of March and April of 2010 in Roswell, NM for work. I consistently flew there on Delta via Los Angles, which was always a ~14 hour three airport affair. I loved it, and I didn’t miss any connections on any of my trips to Roswell

Los Angles from the Air:

The first time I headed to Roswell was also my first time in L.A. Although, I never left the airport, so that makes counting it a bit strange. I find, that I airports count as going to a state but not a city. Such as, “the last time I was in California was when I flew through LAX to Roswell”, is fair but to replace California with L.A. isn’t. I suppose this is because cities have a character that one needs to explore to say that one has been there. States do too, but it highly varied from area to area, and people don’t expect you to be familiar with every area to say you have been there. One can often get a good sense of whats its like in a state from the airport; not so with a city. Anyways, here’s a shot of the iconic LAX entry way:

We worked at the airport in Roswell. The airport is something of an airplane graveyard, or at least long term, until the economy gets back on track storage yard. There are on the order of 100 planes in various states of disrepair strew about the airfield.

Working in Roswell sucked. But one day we took a half day off from working and went skiing for a full day. From the top of the slopes one can see nearby Sierra Blanca (on the left), the southernmost high peak in the contiguous United States, which means that all higher peaks are farther north. Towards the right, in the basin one can see White Sands.

On the way back from this first trip to Roswell I completed a challenge feat. I was on the ground in all four continental us time zones within one day. I accomplished this feat by flying from Roswell (Mountain) to Los Angles (Pacific) to Minneapolis & St. Paul (Central) and back to Boston (Eastern). It was the only time on any trip to/from Roswell, that I had a layover in the Central time zone, and therefore the only time I completed this feat. Google latitude should offer rewards for this sort of thing ala foursquare.

Boston Skyline from North Point.

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

I despise the North Point building in Cambridge, near the Museum of Science for its huge white lights. They are the brightest lights in the Boston skyline as viewed from the Cambridge, Somerville, and Arlington areas. The building, is nothing more than fancy apartments and condos, some with great views, but the bright lights atop it ruin the view for so many other areas. If it were a more important building in the city, maybe it would be ok, but I’m not even sure. Anyways, a friend of mine, Brian, until recently lived at North Point. Before he left he had a party and we got to go up on the roof deck. It provided a great view of the city, if only because it by necessity didn’t include those damned north point lights.

A panorama of the skyline:
It gets a little blurry on the right side, sadly I didn’t get a real stable image of that section.

This is possibly the best shot of Boston I’ve ever taken, it is a 15 second, hand steadied exposure of the Zakim Bridge, Financial District, and the MOS:

Boston and Altlanta from the Air

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

I love skylines. Since getting my new camera I’ve been flying a lot, and ended up with an excellent opportunity to photograph both Boston and Atlanta. Actually, on both the lighting could have easily been better, but the sun doesn’t like to move on command. Here are the best of the shots:

Dead center is the Charles River. The river to the left in the foreground is the Mystic River. Cambridge and Somerville lie between them, with Cambridge closer to the Charles River.

The Longfellow Bridge (lower center), Charles River, the Back Bay (center), and East Cambridge (lower right)

The Zakim Bridge (lower center), and Downtown Boston, including: the State House dome, Boston Common, the Boston Garden, and the Museum of Science.



I know a lot less about Atlanta.

Summer Panoramas

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

I have not yet replaced the camera that I lost. Part of this is because I’ve had a very busy summer and I haven’t done my research. Part of it is because I want the quality of an SLR without the price or the bulk. I took a lot of trips this summer on which I wish I had taken a real camera, but all I had was my cell phone camera, which is bad as cameras god but great as cell phone cameras go in my opinion. So here are some camera phone panoramas from the summer.

July 3rd, 2009: Red Sox Home Game #36

Red Sox July 09
The sox lost this game (my second) to the Seattle Mariners in 10 innings, and it was close all the way to the end. At one point early on David Ortiz stole home base from 3rd on a wild pitch. I have never seen that man move so fast before. This is currently the highlight of my Fenway Park experience. I had a surprising amount of trouble finding someone to come with me to this game, because Mary, who’s a Mariners fan, was in Washington state at the time. Eventually I convinced Briana to come with and we had fun.

July 4th, 2009: Pops Goes the Fourth Fireworks

July 4th Boston
This was the first full day of summer in Boston following a rainy awful June. The night was perfect for fireworks, and we had a prime viewing spot on the Cambridge side.

August 30th, 2009: White Sands

White Sands
This view of the White Sands of New Mexico is from a road between Cloudcroft and Sunspot in the Sacramento Mountains looking west into the basin.

September 9th, 2009: Provincetown, Massachusetts

These dunes are located at the far end of cape cod just beyond Provincetown to the west. Beyond the dunes that reach all the way across the scene is the beach. I somewhat enjoy the differences in color that remain in this one. All the images were taken within two minutes of each other, so the color differences are due to issues with the camera not changing lightning. In the distance on the left lighthouse can be seen. That lighthouse is also pictured here:

Cape Cod Lightouse

Broken Camera

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Also on the ski trip, on the second day, I broke my camera. After taking this picture featuring mike climbing up a ridge after taking a pretty impressive fall. Even those of us who didn’t fall still had a climb, that powder stuff really slows you down. Sadly I forgot to use the snow setting for this shot.

Mike coming slowly up the hill

Anyways. After taking that maybe I didn’t turn the camera off properly and the lens didn’t retract. Or I did and I somehow turned it back on while it was in my pocket. But the next time I took it out to take a picture, the lens was already extended, and some of the teeth on the gears that let it focus and zoom appeared to be broken. That seems like something that might be fixable, but who knows if that would cost less than the price of the camera new, which is ~$110 apparently.

I’ve got some mild issues with the camera, which is a Cannon A560, so I’m not sure I’d replace it with the same thing. The things I’d like in a new camera are:

  • Faster flash/picture taking: I often find that I miss things because once I hold down the shutter button it takes too long to capture the image. I’m not taking motion blur, I’m talking delay. It is only exacerbated when the flash is on. New batteries help, but if I have to use brand new batteries all the time then it’s really a battery life issue.
  • More optical zoom: 4x is just not enough. I like to take high resolution pictures of landscapes for my panoramas, and more zoom, combined with more pictures make better results.
  • Better night photos: many of my shots occur at night, and this camera kind of sucks at it. First, I almost never want the flash on for them. The flash ruins the colors. There are so many vibrant colors in the city at night; I want a more sensitive CCD to pick them up. Also, I want a lot more leeway in how still I have to hold the darn thing.

I haven’t done a lot of research yet, but I think that those requirements push me into the expensive SLR world. This is especially true of the last one. However, whatever I get still needs to fit into a cargo pocket, which pretty much eliminates the SLR world. I mean cargo pockets are big, but they aren’t that big. I suppose all I really want is an improvement in each category, not the best I can get in each category. Maybe I can find that, but I’m not sure how to quantify some of those into a comparable number, of where to find numbers for the ones that can be quantified.

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

About a week ago my room mate and I went to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The tickets were cheap thanks to the < 40 = $20 program. That made it an excellent opportunity to check off Symphony Hall from my list of Boston landmarks to visit. I went as much for the architecture as for the music, but I forgot my camera. I did manage to take enough shots with my phone’s camera to string together this panorama, taken from my seat before the concert.

The music that night was Mozart’s 19th, 20th, 21st and 25th symphonies. Apparently, of those, only the 25th is commonly played. The 25th was also my least favorite. Of the others, a week later they all seem to run together. They were playing the more uncommon peicies because they were in the middle of a series of concerts in which they were playing all (or most) of Mozart in chronological order. I was glad that I didn’t goto one of the later on chronological shows, which include more like the 25th (so I’m told). My most interesting thought at the concert was how much it might suck to be a room mate of one of the performers, many of whom were young looking. Then I decided that the BSO could probably afford to provide practice space.

I would go back under any of two conditions:

  • I was on a date
  • It was a tour of the building including history and not a concert

My Third Geohash

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Last Saturday, October 11, 2008 I went on my third geohash expedition. Geohashing has been dead in Boston for about two months now, but we decided to go anyways. The hash was in Canton, MA near where my friend Sparky, whom I met at the first geohash meetup in Hopedale, grew up. It was also near the Blue Hills reservation, which has an abundance of hiking trails and a great view of Boston from the top. The plan was to go to the hash around 2pm, go hiking, and then get some dinner. Sparky and I joined our usual Thursday Night Social Gaming compatriots Mary and Whitney for the expedition. At the hash we met a xkcd forum user, Greg, who was also at the hash where I met Sparky. The hash was in front of a suburban home, and the residents of that home were there, outside, so were not able to get closer than about 120 feet to the hash, which was well into their yard.

The hiking was more successful. It was a popular activity in the nice weather, so much so; that the parking lots were full. But the trails were not. The hike up the hill was very rocky, as in walking on large slabs of rock making up the hillside. Whitney pointed out that it was decidedly different from hiking in Michigan, where the rocks live under the ground and there aren’t any hills. The hike up didn’t seem to cover all that much elevation, but the view from the tower at the top was worth the hike. The hike down took much longer, but took a more circuitous, less rocky route. All and all it was a great use of a beautiful October day. For more info on the trip, check the meetup page.

Las Vegas Trip Five

Monday, October 13th, 2008

In September I went out to Vegas for work again. This time I got three nights all in the city and none in the middle of nowhere, which was sweet. This meant more time for touristy stuff. Having done the same thing, namely watching the Belagio Fountain all night, many many times before I struck out in search of something new. I did stop by the fountain. I took the above new version of the same panorama I took last time. This one came out much better thanks to hugin. I stayed in a different hotel this time. It’s a high rise and I had a fun view from my room.

I discovered that at MGM they have a Viacom affiliated network test audience place. You go, you watch whatever tv show they tell you too, all the while giving them constant feedback on a little dial, and they give you a bunch of useless buy one get one free coupons for your trouble. I’d gotten off work early on Monday so I decided to try it out. I got there at 7pm, when there should have been a showing, but there weren’t enough people for it so they delayed till 7:30. There is not much you can do in the MGM in thirty minutes. It’d take 80% of that time to just walk to the slots and back. That seems like a design problem, but it is true. I was looking at the lighted map, like in a mall, for something to do having already decided that the nearby arcade was not worthwhile, when I noticed the old lady who was also planning to do the 7:00 show was doing the same. She recognized me as well and I spent the time making painful small talk to her and her husband. Not nearly so painful was that as watching the third episode of “The Ex-List.” It is a new CBS show that is like “My Name is Earl,” which I don’t watch. The premis is that instead of winning the lottery and going around righting wrongs from his past, this time it’s a girl who had a psychic tell her she must be married to one of her ex-boyfriends within a year. Each episode focuses on one of the ex’s and clearly you know it will never be the one. This is similar to the premise for “How I Met Your Mother” but it sucks a whole lot more. The show is a drama, not a comedy to start with, and the back story for this episode was the main character’s sisters’ wedding. It was painful, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Another night I decided to check out the Chipotle on the strip. There is one now! My buddy Matt informed me of this wonderful new location. It shares a dining area with a Panda Express and a New York City Pizza by the Slice. After Chipotle I check out The Venetian hotel. I wanted to take some pictures to compare to my parent’s recent trip to Venice, and someone told me there were some interesting free shows, living statues and the like, inside. I got the pictures but I saw no living statues. It is an impressive place. On the second floor there is blatant rip off of the forum shops at Caesar’s Palace, but with a canal through the middle, on which there are gondolas with pollers who sing in a non-english language.

The Kitchen

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Last week two of my three room mates returned. With their help we’ve managed to unpack more than 95% of the house. It really feels much more like a home now. As I have time to make them I’ll post views of the other rooms in the house. The kitchen was one of the first rooms to get fully unpacked, here it is.

The program I’m using to create these views is Hugin. It is a gui front end for Panorama Tools, and it makes it so much easier to stitch together photos and it would otherwise be. Although, it does still take some time to setup, and it takes hours of processing to generate the full resolution source images, which then take time even to shrink down.

The setup is really identifying points in the images that are the same spot in real space. It has an excellent tool to do this, but realistically you need 5-15 points for every combination of two images that overlap. There are 17 images in the above composite. They don’t all overlap, but its still quite a few points to do manually. For simple constructions it will do this automatically fairly well, but on complex setups I find I get much better results if I do it all manually. One wrong point can cause an unsightly distortion. For example, on the one for my room, I started from the base points and added my own to shore things up a bit. There are distortions in both, that I could remove with more time, but this one does look better. I’m somewhat disappointed that I don’t have any displays that are even remotely close to being able to show the whole image at more than a fraction of the real resolution.