I’ve never been a huge fan of Sir Lowry’s Pass, which carries the N2 out of Cape Town and towards the Overberg. Too many hours spent in traffic jams heading home after wonderful weekends away. It’s a means to an end and we generally like to get past it as quickly as possible.
When we drove over it yesterday though, we went through the clouds and suddenly… well… wow. For the first time in literally hundreds and hundreds of trips, we had to stop and admire the view. And, given the fact that my tripod was buried under a few days’ worth of luggage, I’m fairly happy with how this hand-held pano came out.
44.6 Megapixels of view above the blanket of clouds covering the Cape Flats. And – about a third of the way in from the left – Table Mountain and Devils Peak, floating like an island* in a sea of clouds about 46 km away.
Photography homework this week for the boy was to use a freeware manual panorama maker (Hugin) to manually make a panorama.
I like the approach of the photography teacher: they have lessons on hardware and software, then they get to go away and try what they have learned. But not everyone wants to (or can afford to) go down the route of paid-for editing software, and so they are learning how to use freeware like GIMP and… well… Hugin. They also have critique sessions, where they can – as a group – praise others’ work and suggest ways to improve. It’s a great way to work and they’re a very positive, enthusiastic group.
Hugin is free, and it does what it says it will, but it is cumbersome and time-consuming. Simply as a comparison, we took the same photos, fed them into Lightroom and pressed the magic Panorama button.
Here’s the result:
You can have a look at the full 63MP version here.
This isn’t perfect, but given that it was a last minute dot com effort from a bridge near his school, with the light fading and after he had been hiking all day in a Scouting competition, I think it’s pretty good.
The Hugin version was not as good and took longer to make, but as I mentioned, it was free.
And while we’re on about photography, I found myself waiting outside a coffee shop this morning, waiting for it to open. Wandering into the park opposite, I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera along: the mist was subduing all of the colours aside from the bright yellows and oranges of the American Sweetgums. Fortunately, I had my phone, but this quite nice image could have been really nice.
Always have your camera with you. That’s something else they should be teaching the kids.
I’m not a huge fan of panorama photos. Well, I like the idea, but all too often, the actual product never really matches up to what I was hoping for (or even expecting).
Unless you’re going to plan ahead and take your own individual photos and stitch them in lightroom, it’s not going to be a great result. That said, if you’re willing to acknowledge that you are using a mobile phone and not a DSLR, then your pano app can be fun for sharing a scene on whatsapp (or… er… a blog).
I popped the Mavic up above the early morning mist at home this morning and got this. It’s 21 images stitched together by the DJI software, but then you only get a 0.6MB image. Still, what a shot (though I say it myself)…
One of those occasions where you really wonder if anyone would notice if you sent it up another 80m.
I didn’t. Obviously.
And then this, from Camps Bay this lunchtime. We had a spare half hour and so we grabbed a quick ice cream and a walk on the beach.
One of the sadly inevitable consequences of the cape Town drought is the exacerbation of our fire season. With no recent rain, the local veld and fynbos is a veritable tinder box ready to go up at the slightest provocation. The Overberg FPA recently documented the huge number (40) of major wildfires they have had to deal with so far this year.
Yesterday afternoon, it was the turn of Cape Town once again, as firefighters, 3 helicopters and a spotter plane worked hard for several hours to contain a fire in Cecilia Forest. We couldn’t actually see the fire from our garden or our house, but I popped the Mavic up and suddenly, all became clear (Well, as clear as it could be with all the smoke drifting around). And so I did what any sensible fellow would have done, and banged the pano button. 21 separate photos, taken automatically by the drone and stitched in the app gave me this:
Those are Wynberg School fields in the foreground (Junior on the left, High School on the right), with the fire clearly visible on the on the mountain beyond, and smoke drifting everywhere, but mainly southwards on the light breeze through the Constantia Valley and down towards False Bay.
This is a great example of how the Mavic can give you a different point of view on things. I knew there was a fire somewhere close: I could smell it, and the air was hazy with smoke. But I literally couldn’t see anything from ground level. I’m in no way suggesting that this a great image (it’s not – shooting straight into the sun is never a good idea), but at least I could see what was going on, and could document it. (And without getting in the way of any helicopters.) Last time I saw a wildfire, I had to drive to get there.
It would be nice, however, if there weren’t too many more wildfires to ‘tog in this way (or any other).