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To Megapixel or not to Megapixel, that is the question....


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#21 Alan7140

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 06:45

Interesting article, Tejpor, although most of the complications and their solutions in it are a direct result of the camera being so far out of reach, which in turn has also severely restricted the choice of camera. For panos where the camera is hands & eyes on, all of that electronic and remote whiz-bangery is superfluous. Critical still, however, is the pano head setup and that the nodal of the lens in use has been meticulously and exactly established. Once those two factors are met, multi-row, focus-stacked panos, even though exposed manually, can be absolutely seamless. Thankfully the latest sensors seem to be coming to terms with dynamic range, reducing the need for additional HDR exposures to be made in certain circumstances which can introduce further errors.

Personally I've avoided any automation because a lot of alignment errors from subject movement caused by wind or rain can be avoided by simply pausing until conditions improve. This is hard to do with an automated setup.

Any mismatch that is still present has to be dealt with by retouching, which I usually only take to the point of things being inconspicuous at a normal or slightly close viewing distance. If loupe inspection accuracy was needed, then obviously the shoot must happen on the stillest day and be confined to relatively static subject matter, and probably many more hours of retouching may still have to be performed. Done well, however there is no reason that the image shouldn't bear up to the closest scrutiny. It is still the only practical way that such huge, undistorted angles of view can be covered at such high resolutions using readily available digital equipment.

I'm not sure just how important the requirement of "close inspection" is in illustrative photography, either, for that matter. Most people will not approach a wall-hanging with a 10x loupe to determine whether is is "good" or not any more than they would so examine a blade of grass in a real life landscape they are looking at.

Of course there is also the argument as to there even being an actual need for such images at all. It may or may not turn out to be the biggest waste of time for a photographer to get involved with, an answer that I am starting to believe might just be correct.

I never intended to convey an impression that doing these panos is simple or easy. They are bloody difficult, take heaps of time, require specialized and usually expensive equipment and can be prone to outright failure by something as simple as the camera vibrating in one or more frames.

In these billion-images-a-day times, it seems to me more and more that the professional side of photography is being increasingly defined by the sheer complexity and difficulty of the work involved in getting the photograph - i.e. that which the iPhone brigade simply cannot do. Multi-row, focus-stacked panorama photography perhaps meets that definition, until bloody Apple comes up with an iStackedPanoPhone, of course.

Edited by Fred Nirque, 11 July 2012 - 06:51 .


#22 jramskov

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 09:59

In these billion-images-a-day times, it seems to me more and more that the professional side of photography is being increasingly defined by the sheer complexity and difficulty of the work involved in getting the photograph - i.e. that which the iPhone brigade simply cannot do. Multi-row, focus-stacked panorama photography perhaps meets that definition, until bloody Apple comes up with an iStackedPanoPhone, of course.

Microsoft already created it - it's called Photosynth and there's an app for IOS, etc. Check http://photosynth.net/
Joergen Ramskov
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#23 Colin-M

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 21:42

I've added an image which qualifies my claim about resolution and sharpness in the scheme of that backyard shot.

Under your backyard image, there's one of a road with a lorry on it. Is that part of the pano above?
If so I struggled to find where it fell in the full image?

Edited by Colin-M, 13 September 2012 - 21:44 .

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#24 Alan7140

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 22:19

Under your backyard image, there's one of a road with a lorry on it. Is that part of the pano above?
If so I struggled to find where it fell in the full image?


Yes, it's part of the pano. Starting point being the wooden fence post directly in front of the concrete pathway in the center, moving to the left past the first two steel fence pickets to the next wooden post - that is the wooden post in the foreground above and to the left of which the truck is in the 100% section. Going left to the next steel fence picket, above that is a very dark little smudge (vegetation) and just above that at the right side is a white dot - that's the truck & trailer.

The trouble in seeing it comes from the amount the picture has been reduced in size for Web use - probably the whole truck comprises only 2 or 3 pixels in this resized rendition.

#25 Colin-M

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 22:38

probably the whole truck comprises only 2 or 3 pixels in this resized rendition.

Ok, I understand now!
Guess higher res copies of the image on the web aren't a good idea for you commercially...
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#26 Alan7140

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 22:50

Ok, I understand now!
Guess higher res copies of the image on the web aren't a good idea for you commercially...


That's not so much a problem as that the forum here has guidelines for image width (which I often have to exceed anyway or my images just become mush), and not having the fastest Internet connection myself I am also mindful of the fact that many others also have less than ideal download speeds so large files can become a time-wasting experience to view.

#27 wildoat

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 23:09

Don't know how I missed this first time round, the second image in this thread is without a doubt the best photo
of it's type I have ever seen and one of the most beautiful landscape images I could imagine.
Fred, this is fascinating stuff you are producing some incredible work, thanks for taking the time to
share and enlighten those of us who are ignorant of the incredibly beautiful world in which you live and work.
Inspiring, enlightening and fascinating in equal measure.
The lengths you go to to create this magic are extraordinary, it is photography on a different level :)
Tony

Edited by wildoat, 13 September 2012 - 23:17 .

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#28 Chris Wahl

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 19:01

Most interesting reading and most amazing photography ...

thanks for broadening my horizon in both aspects!

Chris

PS: A very honest +1 what Tony wrote ...

Edited by Chris Wahl, 14 September 2012 - 19:03 .

Never mind the words ... just hum along and keep on going...

#29 Alan7140

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 23:43

Thank you. Tony & Chris.

#30 black_bird_blue

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:22

Of course there is also the argument as to there even being an actual need for such images at all. It may or may not turn out to be the biggest waste of time for a photographer to get involved with, an answer that I am starting to believe might just be correct.


A remarkably candid observation, Fred.

There is no question that your work is very impressive, and I do like the sunrise as do many others. Perhaps such pictures are as much a personal journey for the photographer as solving some technical need or other; if that is the case then they are less about our needs as viewers than yours as a photographer. Only by having made the journey can you authoritatively answer the question as to whether the benefits are worth the time invested.

Perhaps these are the pictures the real CSI need to be able to read hotel logos from the reflection in someone's eyes!

Damian
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#31 Michael Erlewine

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:46

Fred: Whatever your images mean to you, they have been an inspiration to me, pushing me to further my own image dreams all the more. Putting the lens-tech aside, no image poster here has influenced me as much as your work has. So the ripples do flow outward and are felt.

#32 Alan7140

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 14:07

Thank you, Michael, for that most generous comment.

Damian, since I wrote that, the reason for this all has revealed itself in the most unexpected of ways. I recently printed a 24"x14" B&W conversion from a multi-row stitch using Ilford Gallerie Gold Silk paper. I rarely use that paper, but I took special care this time to tweak the profile so that there was absolutely no excess of black ink deposited (which tends to leave dull matte areas if that happens). The upshot is that now framed it is by far the best B&W print I have ever done, from any media and any format (and I've done a few B&W prints in my time, believe me. :wink: ). The file is 1.1GB in size, the unsampled resolution is 720ppi, making for an image of 17,482 x 10,636 px, or 186MP (nearly double the resolution of the largest Leaf/Phase One/Hasselblad sensors currently available).

In the past, in colour, I have made what might be an error in always aiming for the biggest unsampled print possible, because to be honest I just can't see any notable improvement in printing colour at higher ppi resolution, usually 288ppi is more than adequate. So stitched colour panos by definition end up huge around here.

However, combined with the lack of an anti-aliasing filter, and freed from most of the niggles with Fuji X-Pro1's raw conversion in colour, the resulting B&W print in this case is nothing short of breathtaking in clarity, detail and tonal gradation. The lens, set at f/11, is unaffected by diffraction yet the depth of field is such that focus stacking was proved unnecessary at that print size. Absolutely everything is pin sharp, from corner to corner, and illumination similarly is of course completely even with no vignetting.

Not that the shot itself is all that great, it was only done as a test to see how the Fuji would handle forest panoramas with the smaller sensor requiring more individual photographs with my preferred pano focal length of 35mm, but it is one of those shots which now I simply have to pause and look at each time I pass it hanging on the wall. It only took about two minutes to take (compared with the 29 minutes my biggest colour pano effort took with the D3s), so it's not a fascination with any difficulty having been overcome or any tricky technique, it's simply that the thing is just beautiful to look at in a way that I never thought I'd be able to produce. I'm my own worst critic, but this print is technically perfect, which has had the happy side effect of making the shot something beautiful to look at.

It's an almost unheard of rarity for me to look at something I've done and actually think "Damn, that's good!" (and I certainly didn't when the image was just at monitor stage, in fact it's only happened once before and that photo is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art), so considering its unintended origin I'd say that this one trumps that one.

So a camera I had no inkling of ever being in existence, taken for an oblique purpose, printed in B&W (which I had resigned to the digital scrapheap) on a paper I would normally not even contemplate using all came together to give purpose to all the years of flailing about with stitching and stacking and just digital in general.

Mashed for the Net, but here's the shot (should be clicked on, it's bigger than I normally post):
Posted Image

(Hope that made sense - it's after 1:00am here & I'm a bit tired)




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