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Best of 2005

(January 1st - December 31st, 2005)

Brandon Rowell

Minneapolis Skyline from the Stone Arch Bridge

George Row

Outside the Apple Store by Night

Regent Street, London, England, UK

13th December 2005 at 22:20 GMT

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© 2005 George Row, All Rights Reserved.

The panorama opens looking down Regent Street, London, at the height of the Christmas shopping season. The blue lights to the left are the Christmas decorations stretching away down Regent Street. To the right, bathed in white light, we see the outside of the London Apple Store.

It was taken on the evening on which the chart-topping girl band Sugarbabes played one of the "live from London" sessions web-cast from the London Apple Store. There are people standing around outside the door of the Apple store watching the end of the show inside.

Behind us is Oxford Circus - the junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street and the centre of London's West End shopping area.

Most of my panoramas are taken in Ireland. I have collected together a few others I have taken in London.
Most of my panoramas are taken in Ireland.

I have collected together others I have taken in London.
Taken with a Minolta DImage 7 digital camera, with a 7.2-50.8 mm f2.8 lens. Taken at a focal length of 7.2 (equivalent to 28mm). Mounted on a Kaidan Kiwi-L pano-head. Stitched with VRWorx 2.5.2
Making a Night Time Panorama
I have always enjoyed taking night time photographs. I think part of the attraction is that other people assume that it is not possible. Both night time and panoramic photography involve using a tripod - so if I am going to make the effort to set up the tripod for a panorama I might as well get the added bonus of shooting after dark.

They also both add an element of time to a photgraph. The smeared lights from the passing cars give us a hint of how things might look if we saw the world in four dimensions rather than the usual three!

In this case I took bracketed exposures between 0.5 and 1.5 seconds for each of the twelve frames. Afterwards I combined pairs of images using the DRI-Pro plug-in for Photohop from FredMiranda.. DRI increases the dynamic range of the resulting images - including details from both highlights and shadows. It was the DRI-ed images that I took into VRWorx to stitch into a cylindrical panorama.

For many of the frames - the ones where there was lots of activity - I shot several different bracketed triples of raw images. I mostly avoided using the ones where the larger traffic was close to me - deciding for example that it would be more interesting to use the frame with the large white truck in the mid distance rather than the one when it was right next to me blocking the view of the people waiting at the bus stop. This creates an effect of the camera being at the eye of a storm of traffic - with a slightly unreal stillness in the immediate foreground.

Having stitched the twelve frames I exported the flat equi-rectangular image to Photoshop.

Where ghosting has appeared in the stitched image as a result of overlaps of frames I have "repaired" them. So, for example some of the people waiting at the bus-stop were only in one frame but I have made them solid. Where the ghost images were the result of the long exposure I decided to leave them in to keep the time-lapse effect. So we have the ghostly people outside some of the shops and of course the smeared lights of the vehicles that passed nearby.

The other problem with an image like this is colour balance. With so many diverse sources of light there is no single colour balance that is "right" for the whole image.

When we are in a scene like this, our eyes somehow adjust to the changing colours and make everything seem normal. When it has all been frozen into a single image it seems to have pools of white, orange and green light.

In this case, I tried adjusting the white balance of the stitched image - but in the end I decided that I liked it best pretty much the way it came out of the stitcher. Compared to the alternatives this one seems a little warm, but the colder ones seemed less inviting and less real.

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