In Search of a Wider View

First United Methodist Panorama
A 180 degree view from the chancel of First United Methodist Church in Gastonia. The main pipe chambers of the 1956 Moller pipe organ (Opus 8835) can be seen to the left and the right, and the Antiphonal division added during a later renovation can just be seen in the rear loft of the church.

Holy Trinity Lutheran panorama
A 180 degree panoramic view of the chancel in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Gastonia showing the Fritzsche Pipe organ. The original instrument was a 1957 Moller organ, with some original pipes retained through a 1977 Fritzsche rebuild and expansion that added a new antiphonal (Positiv) division with a Trumpet En-chamade (not pictured in rear or church). A second Fritzsche renovation in 1997 brought the instrument up to it's current specifications.

Stitching panoramas isn't something new, but it's a creative tool that I'm happy to have added to my bag of tricks. Photo stitching has numerous applications, but it proves most useful for those times when you just need a W I D E view.

Last week I began working on a photo story I'm calling Pedals & Pipes that will be a tour of pipe organs in the Gaston and Lincoln County areas (the Gaston Gazette coverage area).

The ongoing project is still in the early stages, but already stitched panoramas have proven useful. Even a super-wide lens isn't always wide enough for shooting interiors, and backing up just doesn't have the same effect. In the above photos, though, the use of a stiched pano was less about taking it all in than about showing something mundane in a new and exciting way.

One of the big goals of a photojournalist it to show people the world around them in a way they've never seen it before, and for many people a 180 degree panorama like the ones above is just that. Wide as 180 degrees is, the possibilities of photo stitching don't end there.

I recently met Charlotte Observer staff photog Gary O'Brien, who is pioneering a new technique that takes photo stitching to the extreme--360 degree VR Panoramas.

By taking three shots with a true circular fisheye lens (with an angle of view of 180 degrees in every direction) and stitching them together, he is able to create an interactive virtual reality experience where the viewer can click and drag the image on their screen to look up, down, and all around!

You should definitely check out O'Brien's blog and see for yourself:

Check back here for updates on the Pedals & Pipes project, and I'll be sure to announce when it will run in the paper.

Frat Farm

Shining Hope Farms
Geoffrey Hall is seen through the bars of a window as he works with other students to perform renovations to a riding stable at Shining Hope Farms in Gaston County on Nov. 15. A student at Elon University, Hall was one of the many members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity from area colleges that were participating in the service project at Shining Hope Farms.

Shining Hope Farms 2
Kelby Dodson, from left, looks on as fellow Presbyterian College students Brett Kieffer and William Vaughan install plywood flooring in the loft of a stable at Shining Hope Farms on Saturday. The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity service project was to benefit Shining Hope Farms, an organization that reaches out to sick and disabled children.

Panthers vs Lions

Panthers vs Lions
Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith reacts after having a pass broken up by Detroit Lions defender Leigh Bodden (#28) during second-half NFL game action at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday November 16. The Panthers defeated the Lions 31-22.

It's Basketball Season...

Oak Hill vs Life Center
Oak Hill's Doron Lamb makes a lay-up during game action against the Life Center Warriors in the final game of the Spartan Tip-Off Tournament at Gaston Day School on Nov. 15.

Fall with a Twist!

Fall II

Psychidelic Fall

I left my expectations behind and went out into a back yard full of leaves with just a camera and an idea--this is what I got.

The top image was made using flash to "freeze" the leaf (or leaves) while twisting the camera during a 1/40 sec. exposure. Oh, and the leaf is falling (not from the tree but from my hand--many times until I got something cool). The second picture was made in similar fashion, but it's the branch is still attached to the tree.

The below images were taken of a falling leaf at night with a two--flash setup where one flash fired on first curtain synch and the second fired on rear curtain synch. A spotlight was used as a continuous light source during a 1/10 sec. exposure resulting in a sharp image of the leaf at the beginning and end of the exposure with a smooth blur in between.

The bottom immage is exactly what I had envisioned when I set it up, but on some of the shots the second flash didn't fire, such as in the one directly below. The result was still interesting.

Ultimately, this project was about serendipity. No two leaves are the same, and even the same leaf never falls the exact same way every time, so you never know what cool patterns you might get!

Fall 7

Fall 6
Fall 2

Fall 5

Fall 8

Confererate Sons...and Daughters

Confederate Sons
Reenactors Jamie Sisk, above, and Linda Hoyle take part in the proceedings of a Confederate grave marker dedication service held by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Cherryville on Nov. 8. Sisk is dressed as a confederate soldier and Hoyle in the garb of a mourning widow.
Confederate Daughters

Abbey vs Mount Olive

Abbey v Mount Olive
Belmont Abbey's Connie Axiotis, above, is hit by Mount Olive goal keeper Jenn Sastre after Sastre received a corner kick in first round game action in the NCAA Conference Carolinas Soccer Tournament at Belmont Abbey College on Monday November 3. Below: Belmont Abbey's Lindsay Palm is congratulated by teammate Rebecca Mateo, left, after scoring the only goal of the game.

Abbey v Mount Olive 4

Abbey v Mount Olive 3

Mount Olive's Jackie Jimenez, above right, makes contact with Belmont Abbey's Lauren Faerber as the two compete for control of the ball.

Disc Golf Action

Disc Golf Action
Robert McAlpine plays disc golf on the 18-hole course at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday November 1, 2008. McAlpine was practicing for a Gaston Disc Golf Club meeting and night play Saturday evening where players use small LED lights taped to the plastic discs to play in the dark. 

It seams like the fun assignments just keep coming my way. Saturday, before heading out to shoot a high school soccer match, I was asked to do a little feature hunt for Sunday's paper.

Since the standard kids on a playground feature stuff just doesn't appeal to me, I decided a while back that the next time I was asked to get feature art I was going to shoot something I enjoyed doing like rock climbing or mountain biking. Or disc golf.

It was a beautiful fall Saturday, so I figured there would be people rock climbing and mountain biking at the local crags and trails. I even had my climbing gear in the truck with me--I just didn't have time to use it. Nor did I have time to set up lights to shoot mountain biking.

What to do?

I quickly decided I would just head over to Crowders Mountain State Park (where I spend a lot of time anyway) and get some pics of people hiking and enjoying the fall color. Not long after leaving the paper, however, inspiration stuck me like a thunderbolt.

I was driving by Rankin Lake Park, which has a superb 18-hole disc golf course I've played many times, when it became luminously obvious to me what my feature art was going to be. I found great light, some fall color, and enthusiastic subjects that helped me get the shots I needed and get out in time for soccer.

The guys were a bit surprised by the equipment I was using--namely the 400mm f/2.8 super telephoto that I was taking to the soccer match. It was a bit long (a 300mm would have been a better fit), but I made it work.