Evan Gearing's Photography Exposition


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!


Colorado Capitol at Sunrise

When we went to Denver last year, Eileen and I got up a little early to tour the US Mint.  The Mint in Denver makes all of the coins that we use from pennies to quarters and more.  The Mint in San Francisco makes all of the coin proofs.  Pretty cool stuff.  However, don’t get me started on all of this printing and coining money, but it was cool to see how it is done.  On the way to the Mint, we saw the Colorado capitol building.  We didn’t have time to go inside, but I did shoot off a few hand-held brackets from the outside.  The shot turned out pretty good, but it has a couple of flaws.  Overall though, I like it.  Too bad it had the scaffolding around it, but it guess it’s a companion to this shot of the Texas capitol I took a while ago…

Another View From Butler Park

My previous post showed a view of the Austin skyline with portions of Butler Park included. But as I mentioned, it was hard to include portions of Butler Park from the top of the hill along with the Austin skyline due to the wonderful fitness classes going on. So, I had to make due and decided to zoom in on some of the more iconic buildings in order to not have people in spandex ruining the scene.  The shot shows a few of the bigger buildings in Austin..  From left you have the Frost Bank building (aka the nose hair trimmer, the owl),then you have the Austonian (the tallest building in the city), then there’s the Ashton, 100 Congress and lastly, One Congress Plaza.

Austin Skyline Reflection

Butler Park is a nice little place across the street from Auditorium Shores near the Long Center in Austin.  You can really get some great views of the skyline from there.  However, I don’t recommend going to the benches at the top of the little hill on the right there unless you just want to take in the sites.  You see, if you want to get some photos, you may have a little trouble.  Butler Park seems to be a magnet for fitness freaks who like to run up and down the hill and get in the way of perfectly nice photo opportunities. The nerve of those people!  Trying to better themselves by staying in shape while making it difficult for me to get my shot! In a public place, no less!  Why it makes me want to…  Wait, I know..  Live and let live.  I’m just kidding anyway.  But if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have found this neat little pond and gotten this shot of the skyline.  So really, it all worked out for the best!  Thanks, you fitness freaks!

Pennybacker Bridge in Morning Fog #2

This is a shot I took at about this time last year.  It’s a companion to my other Pennybacker shot, but I just never got around to processing it because I thought it was a little too similar to the other.  However, I think enough time has passed to maybe put this one out.  This one doesn’t have the cedar tree in the foreground, but I like how vivid the sky is.

Tetons and Snake River

Ansel Adams took one of the most beautiful shots ever from a view overlooking the Snake River with the Teton mountains above.  It is an iconic shot and is one of his most famous.  Below is the one I’m talking about:

I don’t think I could ever accomplish anything close to his stuff and I must admit I’m a bit uncomfortable even trying to compare my work to his for that matter, but in this case I think the best I can do is at least compare locations.  From there it’s all technique and he is the best and always will be.  So, my try from his spot is this:

Our tour guide from Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris is the one who recommended that we stop here and subsequently took us to this famous spot.  The location even has a little marker that talks about Ansel Adams’ picture and how famous it really is.  So, I just had to try it myself and see how I could do.  I must say, it’s my favorite from the trip!  I really like how the light from the sunrise hits the tops of the trees in the foreground. I also like the cloud formation halfway up the mountains from the temperature inversion at this time of the morning.  However, it’s no match to Ansel’s great image.  He had a great sky and a wonderful view of the river and was able to convey that like no other.  I bow to the master!

One thing I found interesting though, is the difference in the size of the trees in the foreground and how much of a difference there is between the two photos.  Ansel Adams’ shot, which was taken in 1942 I think, shows a lot of the river due to the trees’ youth.  Now the trees are so much bigger and the view is very different.  From what our tour guide told us, apparently there are some people that would like these trees torn down so as to get a better photo like the one from Mr. Adams.  I must say, I am not one of those people…

Pennybacker Bridge in Morning Fog

This morning I took the day off from work.  Yahoo!  Normal people would sleep in, but being that I like to take pictures of stuff, the best time to do that is either at sunrise or sunset.  Today I picked sunrise and my subject was the Pennybacker Bridge in Austin.  My reasoning for the morning shot was that most people who shoot the bridge do so in the evening.  I thought if I did it in the morning I would get a whole new aspect of it that most don’t usually get.  I thought I would get the orange glow to the left of the bridge instead of the right during sunset that you see mostly in photos of this lovely bridge. Well, it turned out that I was right in that regard. As well as the light, I was able to get a different look. This morning there was fog all over the bridge so a new aspect was in the making.  However, the fog really hid the bridge.  I thought I had to pack it in and try another time.  But, just as the morning light was getting to that perfect time we call the “golden hour”, the fog lifted over the near side of the bridge and I was able to fire off a few brackets before the fog socked it in again.  I probably didn’t get the best angle for it, but I’m happy with it for the most part.

(Click on the shot for a larger view.)