Friday, January 1, 2010

Welly Pano, 10 years later!

A decade ago, on a cool summer night; I was up at Mt Vic lookout with my family admiring the setting sun at 8.35 pm.

I had with me a tiny Canon S10 digital camera that Canon Malaysia loan me, the 2.1 mega pixel point and shoot was on a small Silk tripod for my first panoramic shot of Wellington.

The seven shots I took were later stitch together with Canon Stitch that came with the camera. The "low resolution" pano was enhanced and work on with Photoshop and I was please with the result.

The "Welly Y2K" pano was like by many who saw the print, through the years I gave it away as gifts to friends, some of the left over prints were sold by a local gallery. there can't be more than 20 of this collectible pano in New Zealand! If you own one, treasure it :)

Wellington Y2K, summer evening, click on picture for a grand view :)

Ten years later, today; I am up at Mt Vic lookout again. Le General is with me, just as well; ten years later my old knee find getting up those steps really tough going! She help me carry some of the gear. Thanks dear!

This time round I have my Nikon D300 DSLR, two of my 18 year old Nikkor zoom lenses are also in the small Domke bag. To support the camera, I took along my Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod with a light weigh magnesium head.

It was 7.45 pm and one look at the scene below make me sick, take a look at the picture of me getting ready to capture the pano, can you see the thick mist? Darn!!

The misty landscape! Mission Impossible??

But I am not about to give up! I told myself that the moment the setting sun disappear, there might be a reduction in glare and if I am quick, I might get my pano!

So we waited until 8.40 pm, just like ten years ago! Finally I took my shots but I knew the result will not be as good as the Y2K version!

Wellington 2010, summer evening; look the same?

The seven shots from the D300 were stitch with the free STOIK PanoramaMaker for Mac. The final image was enhanced, darkened and sharpen in Photoshop CS4.

So what do I think of the two version?

I feel the Y2K pano is far better than the 2010, composition wise; moment and colour wise! The version taken ten years ago might loose out heavily in resolution and detail but who try to pick out the landmark and buildings from the pano anyway?

So how bad was the mist over the landscape?

Well, after I shot the panoramic frames with my Nikkor 35-70/3.5 zoom; I quickly switch over to the Nikkor 80-200/4. I love this compact zoom! It has been with me for 18 years and I used one of the same way back in 1975!

As you can see from the photo, the old lens (at equiv of 320 mm) managed to capture all the detail of downtown Wellington with the iconic Te Papa Museum beside the wharf.

The thick mist however, wash out most of the colour of a otherwise colourful city scape!

Here lies the beauty and wonder of shooting digital! What would you do if you shot this on film or worst, on transparency? Simply put, you are BUGGERED ;)

Back home with my Mac and Photoshop CS4, I opened the image in Adobe Camera Raw and to cut to the chase, I did a screen grab of my adjustment; take a look and may be you can use the same setting as a guide next time you have no choice but to shoot that mist covered landscape :)

Notice how I use the "Black" slider to get back the shadow contrast and detail, balance the black adjustment with "Fill Light" and regain the lost highlight by making full use of the "Recovery" control! Here is the result!

Thank goodness to digital and Photoshop! You are not still shooting film? DUH!

A word about the old Nikkor zoom lens, even the 35/70 f3.5 still deliver respectable resolution in this digital age. Below is a frame taken at 35 mm (about 50mm equiv) at f5.6. Not bad for a 18 year old manual zoom!

Digital technology has indeed came a long way, a decade ago on the same hill with the Canon S10; I will not be able to shoot the picture below!

This close up shot of a boat approaching the wharf opposite the Wellington Railway Station was taken with my just as tiny Canon G9 and it's digital zoom! I cannot tell you what focal length it was at but just take a look at the picture below! I marked the same area with a yellow box.

Famous Last Words:

So to all my friends who complain about their cameras are "not good enough", "need more mega pixel"; their lenses "not fast enough", "not sharp enough"; be contented! Make a pact that from this day of 2010, make good use of what you have and go shoot pictures and have fun!

A HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my friends and family!

Oh... while we were dragging our self up the Lookout, this young man decided to come down the steep incline on his uni cycle! I would not do that on four wheels!

I found out he is Ben from Sydney and Ben is here for the uni cycle challenge!

Hi Ben!

A decade whizz by without a warning, ten years gone into history; this Japanese song "Door of Life" says it all.


Unknown said...

Love what you did to de-mist welly! happy new years cy!

Joey Sauer said...

Hi there,

There is a print of this incredible panorama image at Wellington City Council that I love and currently I am looking to create a new signature for the Chief Exec's e-mail correspondence. I'd love to know how to obtain permission from you to be able to use this.

Please contact me at

Joey Sauer.