Practice

The resulting panorama

For some reason, I had the urge to practice the Brenizer Method Panorama. I learned about the technique from a photographer on a photo walk several years ago. I have not used it much. Every once in a while, I suddenly remember the method and feel compelled to try it again. I think I have made a handle of images so far, all with varying degrees of success.

I convinced my wife to be my model, so I could practice making a panorama in the style of Brenizer. She agreed that if I went with her to pick up our farm share from the Honey Brook Organic CSA, she would model for me. I didn’t need her to dress up. I just need a willing human subject and a suitable background. We got to the CSA just a few minutes before closing. It was the last day of the CSA for this growing season, and Bhavna was allowed to pick as many herbs as she could.

Although I have created a few Brenizer type panoramas, I read a few articles to refresh my knowledge of the technique. Many of the posts were excellent, but I like the simplicity of the approach by lightroom zen. I used the longest lens I own, an AF-S Nikkor 85mmG f/1.8.

My D5100 has only a few focus points. I found it challenging to find the 1/3 point in each photo. Instead of nine images as recommend in the lightroom zen post, I had twelve. But I don’t think that matters as much as ensuring I had full coverage of the subject.

After merging these images in Photoshop and some cropping, the final image is the featured image for this post.

Photographer, Brett Maxwell, has created a calculator that computes the effective focal length and aperture when stitching multiple photos together. My final image was 5729 by 8440 pixel, which is about 46MP. My Nikon D5100 is 16MP. Using Brett’s calculator, the effective focal length is 49mm, and the effective aperture is 1.04.

So does that mean that I can claim I have 49mm f/1.04 lens? By using the Breziner method I have waved a magic wand and created a new lens from the old. Without buying any new equipment I was able to transmogrify my lens.

The next morning, after I showed her the final image, my wonderfully supportive wife asked, “Would that be even better if we had a more colourful background?”. Practice makes perfect, right? So … sometime soon we’ll take a road trip somewhere.

3 comments

  1. The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers of all kinds to share both new and old photography. This week’s theme is abadoned.
    I had been thinking about what I might do for the weekly challenge all week long. Because of my work day time constraints, I do most of my photography during the weekend. Initially, I had thought to photograph an abandoned barn along Route 206 in Skillman. I have passed the dilapidated barn many times over the last sixteen years. I am always curious about it but had never stopped for a photo. I guess I am afraid of being called out for trespassing.
    I woke up on Saturday morning, made breakfast, and performed my daily coffee routine. I sat down at the computer, opened Google Maps in a browser and typed in “abandoned places”. Google found a handful of places “nearby” if by nearby, you mean driving one hour or more. I found an abandoned high school building forty-five minuted away in Lambertville, but further research showed that it had been demolished in 2012. Frustrated, I tried again, using the keywords “abandoned building near Princeton”.
    I got exactly one result for Princeton. From the Google Maps entry, I could see that Herrontown Woods Arboretum had a hiking trail. Along the trail were some abandoned buildings. I found a trail map on the New Jersey Trail Association website and prepared my camera bag.
    My wife, Bhavna, awoke just as I was about to leave. We chatted about our plans for the day, and she offered to go out with me; soon after, she had a quick breakfast. I was happy for the company. Herrontown Woods Arboretum is less than two miles from our home, but because of my illness, I always feel better when I have someone with me when I am out in the woods.
    We took the red trail to a fork from the parking lot in the trail and walked through an opening in the fence. We followed what appeared to be a new “green-white” path and found the abandoned property quite quickly.

    An active farm, deeded to Mercer County by Princeton University mathematician Oswald Veblen and his wife Elizabeth in 1957, occupied the southeastern part of the woods, including the cottage clearing with its now-abandoned house and barn. Wood-cutting for timber sale continued through the 1920s. The Levine tract, additional land on the eastern side of the woods acquired in the early 1970s, had seen traprock quarrying around the beginning of the 20th century.New Jersey Trail Association

    We walked around, exploring the property. Bhavna was quite patient while I kneeled in the grass, composing one shot after the other. I wasn’t happy with the photos I was getting. The buildings were abandoned, but my compositions were not capturing the feeling.
    I also felt that the Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8 was not the right lens. I bought the lens for landscape photography, and at the time, I wanted a wide DX lens. But I now regret the purchase. I think a 16mm f/2.8 DX lens (24mm full-frame equivalent) would have been a better choice. I am starting to regret the purchase.
    We walked the path over to the abandoned barn and barn house. While I tried compositions with the barn house, Bhavna explored the barn. She peeked through an opening in the door and spotted an abandoned bathtub. I walked over and took some photos from outside, with the door ajar and part of the tub visible. I planned to create an HDR. I could also see the bathtub through a small hole in the side of the barn. I took a few more shots using the hole to frame what I could see of the bathtub. Eventually, I ventured inside. Someone had placed the tub in the middle of the room with two rocks inside.
    Who placed a bathtub inside a barn? Why right in the middle? Who put the rocks inside the tub? What was the purpose of the rocks? How long had the bathtub sat here? I looked around, but I saw no signs of any plumbing. All I saw were leaves and other debris. I realised I had found my “abandoned” photograph.
    I captured three bracketed exposures and combined them in Photomatix. I then applied a Kodak Ektachrome 100 film emulation preset.
    After a few more experimental portrait shots with my Bhavana as my model, we decided to head back to the car. Bhavana was feeling cold, some snow flurries were coming down, and we were concerned about losing the trail path if the snowfall was heavy.
    With more than three miles of hiking trails, Herrontown Woods Arboretum is on the eastern end of Princeton Ridge. We got “lost” on our way back. We were on the green trail but somehow ended up on the white trail before finding the red path back to the parking area. It was was like having a mini-adventure. We came upon intermittent streams which wound along our return trip to the parking lot.
    I want to return to the Herrontown Woods Arboretum in the Spring, Summer, and Fall.
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    April brought more rain but also more opportunity to be outside.
    I have picked up my exercise. Though I will admit not as much as I should be doing and I know I need to do much more. The issue is trying to deal with the stress in my professional world, relaxing enough by the time I get home, and then going out for a nice walk o hike sometime after dinner just to let my body relax a bit and get the exercise it needs. However, I also know that the winter months bring cold, wet, and gloomy skies and I will not be motivated for any outdoor activities.
    With that in mind, my wife and I agreed to buy an exercise bike. We did some online research, looked at Consumer Reports reviews, visited a store to try out different bikes, and ultimately purchased a Schwinn IC2 Bike from Amazon. I set myself the goal of working out for about fifteen minutes every evening. My goal is to work my way up to thirty minutes, then sixty minutes, and for a stretch goal, bike ride from my home to the local brewery. I am motivated.
    Hiking Devil’s Half-Acre Boulders
    Ridge Trail
    We had some excellent weekend weather for the Easter weekend. On Good Friday, my wife Bhavna and I went for a hike in the Sourland Mountain Range. We drove over to the Sourland Mountain Preserve, located between Hillsborough Township and Montgomery Township in Somerset County. The large parking area near the pond was nearly full. I think local residents wanted to enjoy the incredible spring weather we have had this week. Clear, sunny skies with temperatures in the teens (ºC).
    Located in Somerset and Hunterdon Counties, the Sourland Mountain Range is aptly named. The underlying geology, igneous rock from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic age, was not able to support the farming and living needs of the early Dutch and German settlers to the area. One Wikipedia suggests that the name may be derived from the word ‘sorrel’ which German explorers used to describe the reddish-brown soils in the area or “sauer landt” because the region was not suitable for farming by 17th-century Dutch settlers.
    We chatted with other hikers along the Ridge Trail
    My wife Bhavna.
    Ridge Trail
    We have hiked other trails in the Sourland Mountain Preserve but we wanted to try something new. I suggested that we hike the Ridge Trail to Devil’s Half-Acre Boulders, the most popular bouldering area in the Sourland Mountain Preserve. Devil’s Half-Acre Boulders is a fairly open section of the mountain with a cluster of boulders among the trees. There is also a handful of isolated boulders nearby the main cluster which I could not resist climbing.
    It took us about 30 minutes get to the boulders of Devil’s Half Acre, with the trail winding steeply through interestingly shaped rock formations with trees growing through cracks and crevices. The park is 12.24 km2 (3,025 acres) but we used one of the connecting trails to shorten the trip back from Devil’s Half-Acre Boulders. We hiked about half of the 8.0 km (5-mile) Ridge Trail. According to my iPhone, we hiked about 2.6 km and climbed the equivalent of 21 floors. My calves ached from the exercise.
    rue anemone (thalictrum thalictroides) is a herbaceous perennial native to woodland in eastern North America.
    The Sourland Mountain Preserve is “home to several rare and threatened plants and animals, including: trout lilies, wood anemones, ginseng, spotted salamander, pileated woodpecker, bobcat, wood turtle, barred owl, bobolink, Cooper’s hawk, grasshopper sparrow, Savannah sparrow, upland sandpiper, and the scarlet tanager.”
    Along the sides of the trail, I saw a number of wildflowers including Spring Beauty, Rue Anemone (thalictrum thalictroides), and Bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis).
    Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
    Bhavna was annoyed each time I stopped to focus my camera and take photos. The slight breeze made handheld focusing challenges. I had the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR lens with attached macro extension tubes but even using my miniature Manfrotto PIXI mini tripod required patience and persistence. The smallest movement in the subject (or my hands) was exaggerated and the photos would be blurry. Bhavna felt my photography was slowing us down but in actuality, it gave my body a chance to rest. At one point, my blood glucose fell below 70 and I had to swallow twenty carbohydrate grams of glucose gel. Stopping to take some photos helped my body recover.
    We took the shortcut across a boardwalk back to the trailhead and discussed our plans for the next day. We decided that we would return and complete another Sourland Mountain Preserve trail. Bhavna had never visited the Roaring Brook but a few years ago, I hiked that trail with my friend Prasanna.
    I enjoyed the walk and it made me realize I truly do want to get back into nature more. It is a way just to be out and moving enjoying the warmer weather but it is nice to get out into nature while getting some exercise with a purpose.
    Bhavna walking the boardwalk shortcut back to the trail head.
    Hiking to Roaring Brook
    On the Saturday after Good Friday, Bhavna and I decided to hike the other half of the trail to Roaring Rocks Boulders.
    The day started cooler and cloudier than Friday. The parking lot at the trailhead was almost full to capacity.
    It was an overcast day but the parking area at the Sourland Mountain Preserve was nearly full.
    Some parts of the trail were muddy but mostly it was dry. On the way back, I strained a muscle in my left foot. I assumed the pain was just from pushing my ankle muscles too hard. Nevertheless, the next morning I awoke with pain in the middle of my foot. We iced it for twenty minutes on and off for the whole day. Monday morning there was a little improvement but Bhavna and I agreed it was time to see a doctor. In any case, our hike to Roaring Rocks Boulders was shortened and we took a connecting trail back to the parking lot.
    I wished I had brought my tripod and neutral density filter for some long exposure photography of the pond and the sky.
    I will let the photos tell the story.
    Some of the trail had boardwalks which made walking much easier.
    Some of the woodland plants had tiny new leaves. But mostly the trees were bare and the ground was covered with dead leaves. Need we be concerned with fire?
    Other parts of the trail wound through the woods.
    Bhavna and I cross some rocks areas where a stream had formed from run-off from the mountain.
    My wife Bhavna.
    We chatted with other hikers along the Ridge Trail
    When we arrived at a clearing where the Roaring Brook was visible through the trees, we stopped to take some photos. I practiced the Brenziner effect. I chose that photo as the featured image for this post.
    My son and his friends.
    Bhavna was quite patient while I found a spot in the middle of the brook from which to shoot. The rocks were slippery and I was at risk of going ankle deep into the water.
    Holi Hai
    In the latter part of April, we were invited to celebrate the Hindu spring of Holi hosted by an organization at the Bharat Sevashram Sangha in South Brunswick. Around India, Holi is a lunar calendar harvest festival celebrated in March by Hindu’s of all sects. This year’s Holi was March 1 in India. Spring arrives one month later in the North Eastern USA. In March the weather is too cold and dreary for an outdoor festival that signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, the end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet friends and family, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair relationships. My wife’s birthday was the same week and this Holi festival celebration makes her birthday special each year. The first year we attended, the celebration fell right on her birthday.
    The Boy is a Man
    It feels like it was just months ago when I held him in my arms. He was so small, pale, and helpless. I worried that I would not know what to do as a father, but that morning a piece of my heart (and Bhavna’s) broke off and became this person.
    Shaan, Yejin, Luke, Raymond, Josh
    That helpless baby grew into a handsome, warm, caring, capable, man who loves his mother and dotes on his sister. My “baby boy” is eighteen next month. He is graduating from the Montgomery Township high school in June and will be attending the Honors College at Rutgers University where he will be studying biology.
    Shaan Joshua Aaron Williams
    My son and his friends.
    The Changing Seasons Monthly Photo Challenge is a blogging challenge by photographer Max a.k.a Cardinal Guzman. Each month I will post a photo that I think represents the month. It’s also a chance to write a narrative of my adventures.
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