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Kathy Wheeler

The Long Final

Albury, Australia

21:15, 20th June, 2008

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© 2008 Kathy Wheeler, All Rights Reserved.

Caption

"ELEVATION" - a challenging theme. When I first saw our 2008 June solstice subject I wondered what to do. My first thought was to the lines of elevation on a map. Perhaps a landscape from an elevated position with the elevation lines post-edited it? Interesting but complex. Climb a tree perhaps?

Then a week out from the shooting window the realisation struck that "elevation" stares me in the face every day. The view out my front door looks out over the city of Albury Wodonga, across the river and flood plains into Victoria. At night it is a fairy-tale landscape of twinkling lights from cars, streets, businesses and sports grounds. Like being suspended mid-air on a permanent final the lights spread out in lines like the approach to an airport.

Ok, I had my first "elevation".

Then while thinking on the 360 aspect of the shoot, and choosing a location, a second "elevation" also jumped out - the front elevation of our house! Another use of the term.

The night before the shooting window opened, I took a rekkie out to the chosen spot at the nominated time to check lighting, position and ground stability. There was to be no additional supplemental lighting, not even a flash - only the town lights and for the house, only what we normally used as security lighting on a daily basis and yes it is heavily colour cast.

As I tentatively and somewhat clumsily felt my way with my feet over loose rocks, and wishing I'd taken the line trimmer to the long grass or at least brought a torch, I caught sight of a serene moon-rise off in the east. "Elevation" number 3! Elevation is also a term used in astronomy to refer to the elevation or altitude of a body in the sky.

The night of the shoot - the first clear sky night during the window, was Friday June 20. So at 21:15 I ventured out with camera and tripod, and on the second attempt a small torch to check the tripod levels - it was rather uneven ground. I was grateful for my thick jacket as June in the southern hemisphere is mid winter, and the 12.6kmh wind from the south-south-west took the 9.9C temperature down to 7C with wind-chill (weather archive for the 20th June ).

By the time I came back inside to download the images my fingers felt numb with cold. So after a cursory check of a few images I decided to leave stitching till "later".

Pity in a way ... during the stitching process a few days later I found another feature of note worth "elevating" - the unmistakable shape of the Southern Cross stars in the southern sky! I was not exposing for starlight, so only the brightest stars were visible in the pano. In hindsight it would have been really nice to get another much longer exposure, perhaps with the Peleng 8mm, horizon to horizon looking straight up to post edit in. However not only was I one day out of the window, but every night since the 20th had been horizon-to-horizon low cloud. Maybe another time ...




Elevation #1: the location - 320m (1050') AMSL;

Elevation #2: front elevation house plan superimposed over the actual building;

Elevation #3: the moon - apparent elevation/altitude corrected for parallax - 32.3° (calculated)

Elevation #4: Southern Cross:
  • alpha Crucis (Acrux) - 51.6° (est elevation)
  • beta Crucis (Becrux) - 55.5° (est elevation)
  • gamma Crucis (Gacrux) - 55.1° (est elevation)
  • delta Crucis (Decrux) - 52.4° (est elevation)
The smallest star in the constellation, also on the Australian flag:
  • epsilon Crucis - 52.3° (est elevation)
The pointers:
  • alpha Centauri - 62.1° (est elevation)
  • beta Centauri - 61.4° (est elevation)

Location

Australia - New Zealand / Australia

Lat: 36° 1' 12" S
Long: 146° 56' 24" E

Elevation: 320m (1050') AMSL

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: Medium. Nearby, but not to the last decimal.

Equipment

Nikon D70, Nikkor 16mm lens,Kiwi pan head and tripod

Plus:

Photoshop to import and save => PTGui to stitch => Photoshop to edit and add graphic elements => CubicConverter to create cube faces => Photoshop to add nadir => CubicConverter to create final high and low .mov files all on my 17" G4 Powerbook.

Plus numerous forays to Google for elevation calculators.
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