Evan Gearing's Photography Exposition


Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Daytime Panorama

I think this is my favorite panorama that I’ve done so far. I took this at the Tigers – Rangers baseball game on May 18th. It was a horrible game for the Tigers.  The Rangers beat them 7-2.  I was bummed.  However, my nephew Dylan, his friend Jared and Dylan’s mom, my sister-in-law, Annette were all pretty happy!  I think Eileen was bummed for me, but happy for the Rangers nonetheless.  As you have read, we all went up to enjoy the game and we all had a great time, except for the score of course.

Usually when I go to these games I only take my little point and shoot camera.  I can get some decent panoramas with that, but last time I tried it I got some really bad results.  So, I went to the Rangers website and read their camera policy.  Theirs is very similar to Sports Authority Field at Mile High in that you can bring any camera as long as it doesn’t interfere with other fans’ enjoyment of the game.  So, the big boy went with me this time with the intent on getting a nice pano!  So here it is!

This is not an HDR but it is a composite of 16 shots.  I took 15 for the panorama itself to make sure I got some great overlap for Photoshop’s photomerge process and then I took one shot of just the infield during a pitch and masked that in so as to capture the moment and make sure everyone on the field is focusing on the task at hand.  If you look at the largest version of the image on flickr, you can actually see the ball as it’s crossing from the grass to the dirt on its way to the catcher.

You see, usually when I take a pano from a sports stadium such as this, I don’t really pay much attention to what was going on down on the field because the I’m normally using my point and shoot and everything is usually moving as I take the shots. All that action gets jumbled during the photomerge process and turns out kind of messy.  Well I wanted to make the shot look normal on the field this time plus add a little interest.  I think it worked.

Oh, and one other thing that makes me happy about this pano is that when I did do the merge, the resulting image was already straight and level so I didn’t  have to do any warping!  That was awesome!  Just a little cropping and content aware fill in a couple corners!  I couldn’t believe it!  Especially from a handheld pano!  That’s rare for me because even when I use a tripod it comes out way tilted and I have to do lots of warping to correct some distortion.

Also this shot took a little work to process other than the merging and the masking of the infielders.  The sky that day was very hazy and I really had to crank out the structure slider in Nik Viveza to bring out the clouds.  I also used a little blue filter for the sky.  Then I added in some contrast, a little darken/lighten center in Nik Color Efex 4 along with a few other minor tweaks and here you go!

Lastly, I did take a night time panorama as well that I will put out some time.  I hope it turns out as nice as this one.  I have started on it a little bit and one thing that is different is that it’s not quite as wide as this.  Oh well, just something to remember for next time!

Click on the shot to see a larger version.  Or click here to see the largest on flickr.

BTW, the players on the field in the shot are as follows:

P – Anibal Sanchez
C – Alex Avila
1B – Prince Fielder
2B – Omar Infante
3B – Miguel Cabrera
SS – Jhonny Peralta
RF – Torii Hunter
CF – Avisail Garcia
LF – Andy Dirks

3rd Base – Elvis Andrus
At Bat – David Murphy
On Deck – Lance Berkman


I-35 Upper Deck in the Morning Panorama

Morning traffic in Austin is a nightmare, or better yet, a “morningmare”!  It’s the worst.  The quicker you can get a jump on it, the better.  For that reason, I get on the road pretty early so I can beat most of it.  However, the rate that the city is growing, the traffic seems to get busier earlier and earlier.  Many years ago, Austin thought one way to combat the traffic woes was to put in an upper-deck on the expressway going through downtown that would have not off-ramps so drivers could take that option to help speed through.  It doesn’t seem to really help anymore.  But, just off the decks on the southbound side of I-35 near 38 1/2 street lies a new office building which went up and has an 8-level parking garage.  It’s free to go into and it has a great view of the decks.  That’s where I took this 7-shot panorama.

If you know what you are doing and have the right gear, panoramas can be pretty easy and fun.  For me, not so much.  But, I did learn a lot about panoramas after taking and processing this photo.  It still needs a little work, but for me, I think it works.  The things I learned are as follows:

1. To take a proper panorama, one must know the “nodal point” of the lens of choice.  The nodal point is basically the area “inside the lens where the light paths cross before being focused onto a film plane.”  That point is where you want the actual camera to pivot from while you take your shots for a panorama. That way, when it’s time to stitch your shots together, the stitching software can blend the shots together as accurately as possible.  Otherwise, you will get some wild and unfortunate problems from stitching to distortion (other than normal pano distortion, that is).  Also, to figure out the nodal point, you will need a proper head and/or bracket for your tripod.

2. If you can’t use a tripod or even if you have a tripod and not the right head or bracket, you can still take a decent panorama, but be prepared to fix a lot of stitching issues and perspective/distortion problems.  I ran into a lot of those with this shot, but a photographer out there named Klaus Herrmann, aka Farbspiel, who takes some great vertical panoramas (or vertoramas), has some great processing techniques that were invaluable.  His distortion correction video was a big help!  I learned a lot from that video and I also learned a lot from his “making of” videos.  However, if you watch those, be prepared to pause and play quite often because his techniques are quite extensive and he speeds up the vids about 10 times as fast as normal!  However, you can still get a lot out of them!  Those “making of” videos really helped me fix stitching problems.

3.  To take a good panorama, put your camera in portrait orientation, meter the main subject in the pano with your camera, note the camera’s aperture and shutter settings, switch to manual mode and input those setting accordingly.   Then take all the shots to compose the pano with those settings.  That way, you won’t have any blending problems in post-processing.

I guess those are the main things I’ve learned.  I hope you enjoy the shot and thanks for visiting!

Expressway Upper and Lower Decks Vertorama

This is a vertorama (aka a vertical panorama) of I-35 in downtown Austin. It’s comprised of 5 landscape-oriented shots stitched together in Photoshop to make an almost 180 degree vertical view of what one would see if standing on one of the cross bridges. I think I could’ve captured this with a fish-eye lens as well, but alas, I don’t have one.  Lastly, I was hoping to make this an HDR, but I think this turned out nicely without.

Panorama View from Alpine Visitors Center, Rocky Mountains National Park, CO

Last week, Eileen and I took a trip to Denver, CO!  The two main reasons we went were to check another stadium off of our NFL bucket list (Sports Authority Field at Mile High) and to see our good friends, Eugene and Mary!  (Sorry we didn’t have more time guys!)

While we were there we went out to Estes Park and grabbed a sightseeing tour on the “Top of the World Tour” through a company called “Rocky Mountain Rush”.  It was unbelievable!  We drove up Fall River Road – in a 16 passenger Toyota Landcruiser – which is a one way gravel road that takes you from the bottom of the park up to 11,796 ft to the Alpine Visitors Center.  The road on the way up was a little scary as there were no guard rails protecting you from falling off the side of the road thousands of feet straight down and there were times you thought maybe the back wheels may slip off the side while turning through the switchbacks.  However, we had total confidence in our guide, John, who was just the right guy for the job. He got us up the mountain and was a wealth of information when it comes to the local habitat and how it all works together.

We stopped at the Alpine Visitors Center and took in the gorgeous view of which you see here.  The terrain we were in was called the “tundra”.  I didn’t really know this, but according to John, tundra is the name of a type of fragile ecosystem that resides above the treeline and it is made up of grasses and a variety of wildlife.  So, the more barren grassy portions you see here is the tundra.  Then below where the trees are is an ecosystem called “alpine”.  And, the further down you go in the treeline, you hit another ecosystem called the “sub-alpine”.  I always thought those names were more descriptions than actual names of ecosystems.  You learn something new all the time!

Anyway, back to this shot.  As nice as this turned out, it doesn’t do justice to what we saw.  It was just an amazing view.  As far as the shot goes, this is made up of 8 separate shots taken in portrait orientation with my Nikon D300s with my Nikkor 18-200 lens at 18mm and then merged together in Photoshop CS6 to make up this panorama.  I then did a single image tone-mapping using the Graduated 1 landscape setting in Nik’s HDR Efex 2.  After that I just did a little bit of noise reduction on the sky and some sharpening on the rest.  I also put a little Darken/Lighten Center filter in from Nik Color Efex 3.  Really not much to it.  I hope you enjoy it.  Speaking of which, then next several shots I’ll be posting here will be from our trip to CO, so stay tuned!  Thanks for dropping by!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

And that’s Football Season!  Yes!  It starts this weekend with the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game on Sunday! I know  it’s pre-season, but it’s still football.  It’s the Arizona Cardinals v the New Orleans Saints!  I love this time of year!  In this day and age of “nothing but crap on TV”, I’ll take a meaningless live football game over just about anything else. 

This means fall is right around the corner, cool weather is coming and we get to fulfill another check-mark on our bucket list!  You see, our bucket list consists of seeing a football game in every NFL stadium.  This year it’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver to see the Broncos.  Can’t wait!  The main reason we’re going there this year is because Peyton Manning now plays for the Broncos.  I guess he’s all grown up now.  Because that’s what colts do, right?  They grow up to be bucking broncos, yes?  I know, it’s a bad joke, but I can never come up with good ones.  Anyway, it seems he’s healthy this year and we can’t wait to see him!  Should be fun.  And speaking of bucket lists, do you have one?  If you do, what’s on it?  I’d love to hear what others would like to do during their lifetimes!

The shot below is from a pre-season football game we went to a while back where the Baltimore Ravens played the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.  It was fun even if it was pre-season.  This shot I used my Sony DSC-HX9V and took about 7 shots in the portrait orientation from one end of the stadium to the other trying to carefully overlap each one by about 20% or so.  Then I stitched them together in Photoshop CS5 and added a little more color to the sky with Nik Color Efex.  It turned out pretty cool I think.  However, if you look closely, some peoples’ heads and seats got chopped up due to the stitching process in Photoshop.  I guess it doesn’t totally work every time, but I like the overall result.

I hope you do, too and thanks for dropping by!

Between Bands

If you read my last post, you’ll know that my wife and I went down to San Antonio last Friday night to see Van Halen play at the AT&T Center.  It was a great show and I think I got some OK shots of the band.  Another type of shot I like to get whenever we go to a venue such as this is a panorama.  This is the first time I’ve taken one at a concert.  Usually I get shots from football or baseball stadiums.  Not this time.  I took this shot from our seats after Kool and the Gang played and before VH took the stage.  You can see that on the stage the road crew is removing the last of the drum risers from Kool’s set and prepping for VH to take over.  I thought it was a good time for a shot.  I tried working one during the shows, but they really didn’t turn out.  Click the shot below to see a larger version.

The camera I used for this was my little Sony DSC-HX9V compact point and shoot.  It has a built-in Panorama mode that makes taking these shots a snap.  They turn out pretty good also.  However, the shots come out VERY wide and NOT VERY tall because you can only do these shots with a landscape orientation.  That’s what panorama’s are supposed to be, right?  But, I like my panos to be a little taller to capture more in the shot. They usually end up with a fish-eye effect. So, instead of letting the camera do the work, I flip it to a portrait orientation and take several shots, being careful to make sure each one overlaps a little bit.  Then I stitch them together in Photoshop’s “Bridge” using the Tools | Photomerge function and taking the defaults after that.  Wa-la!  It’s a little more work, but I like the results a lot better.  Click here if you would like to check out some of my other panos.  (Sung to Van Halen’s “Panama”) “Pan-o-ram, dun duhhh, dun-deh-dunn, Pan-o-rama!!”  Yeah, that’s bad..  I know…

Baseball Season!

This is basically the opening weekend of the 2012 Major League Baseball season. So to commemorate the occasion I thought I’d post a panorama of Fenway Park taken during the Red Sox’s last home game of last season.  At the time of this shot, the Red Sox were fighting for a playoff spot and they were playing the Orioles with Josh Beckett pitching.  The Red Sox pretty much had a playoff spot locked up but they had a horrible September and ended up not going.  This was one of those games they lost.  They finished the season so poorly, that their manager, Terry Francona, quit along with allegations of players drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the locker rooms during games among other things.  Not good…

Speaking of the Red Sox losing, they opened this season against my Detroit Tigers in Detroit and lost the first three games!  Woohoo!  I guess the new manager of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine, hasn’t quite done the trick yet!

I will say this about the Red Sox… I can understand why people love them, especially those in the Boston area..  Their stadium is great!  There is so much history there and there are a lot of great stories about it.  We took a tour of the place after we saw this game and it was incredible.  And this year, it will turn 100 years old and become recognized as a national historic landmark.  That means that from now on, no changes can be made to the stadium other than safety issues and the like.  No more seats can be added, no changes to the dugouts or anything else you can think of can be done to it.  That’s pretty exceptional when you think about it!  If you ever get a chance to see a game there, I highly recommend it!

Oh and one other thing.. If you do go, eat at the Bleacher Bar.  It is a restaurant that sits behind the wall in left-center field and during practice, they have the windows open and you can see and hear the payers as if you were in the outfield yourself.  During games, they close the windows, but you can still see the goings-on of the game!  Awesome!  You can see it in this shot..  It is the first opening in the wall to the right of the Hyundai sign.  It’s directly below the “m” and the “e” in the Bank of America sign and it’s right down there on the field.  If you click on the picture, you will get a larger shot and you’ll be able to see it better.

PS.. I’m not real happy with how the sky turned out in this one, but it was the best pano of the night!  Enjoy and thanks for dropping by!