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New header pix! Headers are chosen randomly from images captured in 2010 in and around Durham and Newcastle (UK, not Canada).

Lincoln Castle


While I’m on the subject of castles (previous post) this is a view of Lincoln Castle. The walk up to the castle was by way of a stiff climb along a street named appropriately – Steep Hill.

Good exercise – for those who like to walk, and are in good shape!

A brooding castle

One reason I haven’t posted much recently (aside from the continuing WordPress saga) is that I spent three weeks visiting relatives in England during the month of May. I took “lotsa pictures” and, hopefully, one of them will be attached to this post, resized as needed, and online with the article.

This is Hermitage Castle, a small castle in the border region between England and Scotland. It passed a couple of times between the English and the Scots, and while the inside lies in ruins, the castle still has a brooding presence – particularly when the clouds roll in as they did on this day, with a chill rain spattering down from time to time.

This image was sent from my iPad, so the process does work, but I am not sure if the changes which I had to make to the site are safe. I will be watching to see if any glitches show up as a result of the modifications – but eventually I will post more images of the trip (i’m not sure, but that may pass for a threatening remark – don’t say you weren’t warned!).

More experiments with VR

After building the 360-degree panorama from pictures taken at the Distillery District I decided to experiment further, this time using an application new to me, DoubleTake. Here is the result of stitching 360 degrees of images from the street in front of my house.

This was made without a tripod using a Canon SD600 in pano mode, which allows you to see the previous image and match to one side of it. Pano mode is useful but not imperative – basically you need to keep your camera level and sweep in a horizontal plane (a tilt will mess up the image matching) and overlap by around 1/3 in each image. The DoubleTake site shows a number of examples of stitching panoramas together, and extending them to 360 is fairly straightforward — once all the pictures are loaded into the software and lined up horizontally you select a menu item and the image on one side is duplicated so you can match it up on the other side. You may have to make a few compromises in matching depending on how level your images were, and it’s really best to use a tripod.

Even with a tripod I have image sets which make me unhappy – the tripod wasn’t level to begin with, and the only way I can match the images together results in a strip of images which is ridiculously thin, or which has a lot of white space above and below a tilted horizon. The great thing about digital imaging is that you can experiment – all you lose is time. That’s an investment, I suppose, but easier to spend in most circumstances than cash. I will post more panorama shots soon, and I hope that some of these will be astro-images, or at least, astronomy-related.

Distillery wallpaper

While I was at the distillery I grabbed some images for use as wallpaper on my computer screen. These are free for use, but the clay brick seems to be a better background than the stone, and one image has part of a blue door along the right side which you may wish to trim out. For some reason the hook mounted on the wall really grabbed me….

Click on the images below to get to a larger view which should be more suitable for capture and use. The maximum size is 3504×2336, so you should be able to reduce/select from that to fit any reasonable size display (and if your display is larger than that, I don’t think I want to hear about it!).

Key 1 Key 2

Key 3 Key 4

Red brick Stone 1

Stone 2 Stone 3

At the Distillery

Part of my daughter’s university graduation included a “Grad Show” in which student artwork was displayed. Yesterday I went down with her to pick up her exhibit, and found myself with a little time on my hands in the Distillery District which is the ‘best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America’ according to the web site. It was a quiet day, and I made a QuickTime VR record of the location. Before you click on the link, be aware this is a 7.4 Mb file and will take quite some time to load on a dial-up connection.

Lens Work #59

I was looking at the current issue of Lens Work and admiring the gorgeous black levels in the photos. They achieve an incredibly deep warm black which is comparable in quality to the very best art prints. Mind you, the magazine is expensive for its size, so I suppose you should expect high quality, but it’s supported entirely by sales rather than advertising, so I still expect money will be tight in their operation.

I find Lens Work is always worth a look, even when the content is not to my taste. I dislike Carol Golemboski’s “Psychometry” images, but it’s necessary for me to see them to figure out why I don’t like them.

Finding images

If you want to see the images on the blog, search for “jpg” in order to find the jpeg images which are linked in to the articles (this article will give a false positive). The search box is at the right side of the page.

Also at the right side of the page are links to the NYAA image Gallery site, plus links to my own Gallery site here at zerobyzero, and a further link to a pbase site which I use occasionally.

The banner picture is a detail from the Lagoon/Triffid Nebulae image elsewhere on the site.

Going (more) digital

Today was very painful. I bundled up my trusty — but old — Nikon F801 and Nikkor lenses, and trekked off to camera stores to see what sort of trade-in I could get for them. It’s a wrench to give up Nikon glass, but I don’t trust the Nikon digitals for astrophotography. Some folks have managed to do good work with them, but “Christian Buil”:http://www.astrosurf.com/buil/ has worked with the RAW image and finds it not to be truly RAW, but slightly manipulated first. He has a workaround, but it’s a misfeature which argues against purchase. So, as of today, the only Nikon in my kit is a “Nikon 5700″:http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikoncp5700/. Even that is irritating — I found that a RAW 5700 image of M42 had dark rings around the stars. Basically I have given up on Nikon for astro-imaging, and have sold off almost all of my Nikon glass ($50 takes the last piece, an 85-250 mm F4.5-f5.6 zoom lens dating from the mid-sixties ), to be replaced by (ugh!) an IS 18-85 zoom for a “Canon 20D”:http://www.canon.ca/digitalphotography/english/product_article.asp?id=634&cid=7 body. My astronomy cookie jar is now empty (and now dwells in some sort of negative hyperspace). It looks as though my “Starfest”:http://www.nyaa-starfest.com/Starfest/ swap table hunt will be a little shorter this year.