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Archive for December, 2014

Ever wondered how Google and others get those amazing 360 degree shots?

The theory’s simple… take a series of overlapping photos and stitch them together. The trouble with taking a bunch of shots is that it takes time… and things tend to move in that time.

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Imagine you want to photograph a beach and you take 10 shots to get it all in. In the time it takes you to take the ten shots the clouds, birds and the waves have all moved so nothing lines up properly.

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Here’s the answer, a camera with lots of lens that all overlap and all take a photo at exactly the same time. I don’t even want to think how much it costs.

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I took these shots early one morning by setting up the camera on a tripod with a shutter speed f around 3 seconds. The camera doesn’t move in relation to the boat so the boat stays sharp while the rest of the image has a motion blur.

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Not a great shot but I thought it was a good example of the benefits of fill flash. It was taken at the Cube House in Rotterdam late in the afternoon.

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I took this shot but it had very little detail in the shadows. I could have increased the exposure but that would have blown out the sky so I popped the on-camera flash

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A lot more detail where the shadows had been and still have colour and detail in the sky

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After I added some saturation in photoshop.

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Just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have followed my ramblings over the last 12 months.  May the Christmas period be a happy and joyous one for you and yours and may the New Year bring forth wonder and new adventures.

Personally I’m going to take a page out of this guys book… find a quiet bit of beach and let the world just roll on by.  See you all in 2015.

 

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Our decision to do a cycling tour through the Netherlands came about after must discussion and toing and froing, the details of which I won’t bore you with. In essence, I had always wanted to do a long distance extended cycling tour and my wife, well she wasn’t that keen (and by that I mean she would rather have pulled out her nasal hairs one by one with tweezers).

_EBT5156Anyway as a compromise (for our first cycling adventure at any rate) we settled on a bike and barge tour. Now I’m sure there are seasoned cyclists out there who are rolling their eyes at this point thinking “Oh you’ve got to be kidding….. an organized tour? …. how very droll!” But an organized tour offered a lot of benefits for us first timers, especially as we only had a couple of weeks.

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For a start we didn’t have to worry about any of the logistics. Our bikes were taken care of so we didn’t have to agonise over whether to take our own, hire or buy some over there.

Our accommodation and meals were taken care of which meant we didn’t waste time finding somewhere to stay at the end of each day and we didn’t have to carry all our worldly goods with us.

Someone else had already worked out the best and most scenic routes each day which saved us all that planning.

_DSC5728We had backup the whole time, which was reassuring seeing we had never ridden in Europe before support so it was nice to know that if we had a problem help was only a phone call away.

We used Boat Bike Tours http://www.boatbiketours.com/ and could highly recommend them though there are hundreds of similar setups out there which I’m sure are just as good.

So what were the Pros and Cons

Well on the Pro side, there are all of the above. We turned up, settled into our cabin and were set to go.

The food was superb (pretty important point after riding all day), the barge well equipped and the staff extremely helpful. Everything was extremely well organized and punctual (must be a dutch thing) if they said we were casting off at 5:00pm, you can bet we caste off at 5:00pm 🙂 P1020476

Good company. With everyone being pretty much around the same age (let’s say mature to be kind) and sharing an interest in cycling and travelling it was the perfect formula to form friendships and encourage conversation (the wine didn’t hurt either).

You got to skip the boring bits and you had all the benefits of a canal cruise.

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Even though the daily rides were planned you didn’t ride as a group. We rode by ourselves most of the time occasionally meeting up with others in the group for coffee or lunch. This suited us right to the ground as it meant we could ride at our own pace and stop when and where we wanted. One day after spending the morning riding through some stunning coastal areas neither of us were overly enthused about the 20kms ride back to the barge through what promised to be (after the morning’s ride) some pretty ordinary scenery… so we opted for a long lunch, found a railway station and threw the bikes on the train and were happily sitting on the sundeck of the barge, wine in hand, when the others started rolling in.

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For sightseeing cycling allows you to travel at a perfect pace. Fast enough to cover plenty of ground yet slow enough to allow you to savour the sights, sounds and smells. Beats the hell out of tearing up the road in a car or a bus.

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As for the Cons, well there really weren’t any!   Some might complain the cabins were small (well they were at the budget end where we were), but you were only in them to get changed or to sleep so we didn’t find it a big deal (besides I work on a mine site and at least these cabins had a window and a view).

It’s probably more expensive than doing it yourself, I say probably because that’s going to depend on how long you’re going for. If you only have a week or so I’d say that they’re good value. If you have longer than that then I’d definitely look at doing myself.

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From a photography point of view it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to sit up on the sundeck of an evening as the barge cruised to the next location but unfortunately that’s when the meals were served and the briefing for the next day’s ride took place……. just not enough hours in the day 😦

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So how was our first cycle adventure? In a word – AWESOME. Next time hopefully we’ll have more time and will head out on our own. My advice, if you’ve thought you might like to do a bike trip, then bike and barge is a great way to give it a try.

 

 

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