wailua rainbow

We visited the Wailua Falls in Kauai on New Year’s Eve. These 80-ft falls are quite majestic and powerful. On this particular visit, we arrived in the early afternoon, and the Sun was at the right angle to cast this lovely rainbow from the mist created by the falls.

I used a long(ish) exposure on this image above – closing the aperture down to f/22 and the exposure set to 3 seconds. Of course I used a tripod, and the proof is in the image… there’s the camera’s shadow to the bottom left of the image!

The reason for the long exposure was not just an attempt to capture the power of the falls, or to transform the torrent of water into milky smoothness. I noticed that the mist that was being created by the falls was naturally broken up and not uniformly distributed as it travelled across the lake at the bottom of the falls. So the intention with the long exposure was to capture a more vibrant and fuller rainbow as that mist “travelled” through it.

Finally, an apology, I just can’t resist throwing in a black and white image. Wasted on the rainbow so a close up study of the falling water.

waimea canyon

The week between Christmas and New Year we spent on the island of Kauai. Aside from the Big Island, this is probably our favourite island in the Hawaiian chain that we have visited (still need to go to Molokai and Lanai). Not least because of the wonderful Waimea canyon.

the yellow fields of england

wpid509-field1.jpgI’ve just returned from England (well, it was last week!). As I was being driven from the airport to the village my family live in, I realised one of the things that I do miss of England – springtime. And one thing about springtime in particular, the yellow fields that seem to carpet the landscape at this time of year. They seem to be quite predominant in the south-east of England, in particular. The plant in question is the rapeseed and farmers cultivate it for its oil, and it’s also used to manufacture biodiesel.

I’ve always thought this to be a beautiful flower, purely because of the vibrant colour and the wonderful way they paint the landscape when they are in full bloom. Then I found out that they are a part of the cabbage family, which ruined any romantic notions I had.

These fields are just two minutes walk from where my parents live.


now you can pano-sweep

Sony have introduced a new camera which has a panoramic mode with a difference. A panoramic mode is available on most point-and-shoot cameras but they still involve taking separate images which are then later stitched together in software. With the new Sony HX-1, you can take panoramic photos that are stitched together within the camera – but there’s a difference. You take the panorama by sweeping the camera across the vista you want to capture! Really cool (if you have a steady hand or tripod handy)! Sony calls it Sweep Panorama Technology.

The This Week In Photography (TWIP) blog has posted a short movie on it (click ‘Download M4V file’), shot at PMA2009.

Summit Sunrise update


I was looking at the Summit Sunrise panorama again to see if I could do a better job of it. You see, I realised that hugin has the option of using the Panotools enfuse engine for making the blends. It makes HDR images as well although I haven’t tried it for that… yet.

The nice thing about hugin is that it generates both files for you, the normal blend and the enfused one. That allows you to compare. This one above is the enfused one and I think it does a much better job. It’s matched and dealt with the lighting changes across the field much better. No (overtly obvious) joins!

I’m even more pleased with this result.

Expert advice on making high-res panoramics

My favourite scientist-who-should-be-a-pro-photographer is Jao van de Lagemaat (you can find his blog on my side-links). He has also started to contribute to O’Rielly’s Inside Lightroom blog. In the latest post, Jao blogs about making high resolution landscapes with a low-resolution DSLR. There is some really good advice in there (not sure that climbing onto the roofs of snow covered huts at 12,000 ft is requistite, but it helped in the example given).

I was also pleased to discover that Jao is a user of hugin, which I talked briefly about in a previous post, and will likely post about in future ones. Jao has a smugmug page set up showing some of his panoramic images which is really well worth a look. There is some excellent work there, and the lesson to take away from it (and what I have to learn) is that panoramics do not have to be linear, long and thin. Explore all dimensions available…

Summit Sunrise


The image above was taken a couple of nights ago as we finished our night shift, observing at the JCMT. It’s a panoramic image, three images going left to right – can you spot the join? – taken from the summit of Mauna Kea. In the distance is Mauna Loa.

For panoramic images I use a great piece of software called hugin. It’s donationware, but it is a great piece of software and although it doesn’t always produce a final stitch product (which has only happened to me a few times) when it works, it works better than any other piece of stitching software I have used  before. I must admit though, the exposure blending didn’t work marvelously well this time (you can see the joins, right?) probably because the light changes quite quickly at that time of day.

This was a hard exposure to get right because the ground is dark and the sky is bright. I had no choice really but to expose for the sky as that’s where all the interesting detail and colours are, and hope that I could recover the rest in my Lightroom. I like the final result.