Vancouver Olympics, day 11: Panoramic Images

Vancouver Olympics, day 11: Panoramic Images

Click image to enter the multimedia 

For the first week it was pissing rain and you could not shoot anything with an extreme wideangle, as you would have only gotten fog and water on the lens. But it has gotten better.

I have had couple of friends already asking for these so here we go. I had a free morning and I decided to shoot some panos in order to share how things are over here and how “my office” looks during these three weeks.

As work for a finnish client, I have to make it in Finnish. But I made it very simple, no text and no audio either, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. You enter by clicking the opening screen and it takes you to the WOC media center (takes a while to load, so give it a minute). Once in the Media Center, you can choose which panorama you want to see next. Presently, there are views to the cross-country, biathlon and couple of images to ski jumping. I try to add couple of more as the games move forward. You can move the image with the mouse and zoom in and out with shift/cmd/ctrl — buttons or with the wheel of the mouse if you have one.

Shooting in Biathlon

I get quite often questions like “how do you do this” so let me very quickly walk you through it. This time, I used a Sigma 8mm circular fisheye on Canon 5dmk2. I used a special carbon fibre pole made by a company called Exel (the only place I know you can buy these poles is in Finland, but I guess you can find them elsewere as well). I triggered the camera using Picketwizard multimax remotes. In the Olympics in each venue you have to register for a remote channel, but surpri­singly, it has not been crowded so far, so I have had no problems.

I also used a leverer to maintain the pole straight up. (the standard thing the carpenters or plummers use). If I am shooting something which is near, I always use a what I call “a trans­ferplate” i.e. a plate under the camera which shifts the camera backwards so that the rotation of the camera is around the so called nodal point (the absolute “zero” inside the lens, where all the rays going throught the lens intersect).

If I do more precision work, I do use a panoramic head on a tripod, but here tripods are not allowed — and in this light with a 8mm lens you really do not need one — unless you want to shoot HDR panos.

I shoot typically 4 shots, trying to keep the pole/monopod straight and stich then these images together. You can do it with photoshop, but I use a dedicated stiching program (PTGui). I add some photoshop work (correcting errors mostly, work on the zenith and nadir), then conversion into QTVR (Virtual Quick Time), or into a series of cubefaces or into an equirec­tan­gular image. I use flash to project the resulting image, as flash has the largest penet­ration among the computers in the world. I use FPP to present it (assisted nowadays with FFC) into flash — it’s a bit of a pain to use, but it is the most flexible flash panorama solution there is to do this kind of things. Add some basic webdesign — GoLive or Dreamweaver… and voilà, you have your panorama.


Shooting the X‑country finishingline

Shooting the X‑country finishing line was interesting. You are not supposed to go where I went, but JC, the local photo chief looked me in the eye and said: “You are not allowed to do that, I never said this and I never saw you… but you have five minutes”. On top of that, he was kind enough to shoot couple of “making of” ‑images of me working. So a big “thank you” to him, what a cool guy.

For that particular pano, in addition to using the dedicated pole, I inverted my Gitzo- monopod and attached the pano-pole on top of that so that I managed to get the camera c. 120 cm higher still. And you can tell the difference.

My experience is that something 6–7 meters is ideal, after that you tend to go too high. I do have a pole which extends to 10 meters, but I wouldn’t dream of using that in the Olympics: the slightest amoung of wind and you have your camera landing on somebodys head. In addition to hurting someone, you might break your equipment… And you’d be sure to lose your accreditation…

The last panorama is kind of funny. The pool photo­graphers laying on their back trying to shoot the jumper just as he is leaving the hill. I did recognize Elaine Thompson (from AP)… and they were all kind enough to lie still until I had my image.

I would have liked to add some audio into these, but presently the rules here in the Olympics prevent me from recording anything — including ambient audio. So we have to do without…

But I realize now that it is 7.30 in the morning at home and I have not yet edited the two videos which should get published… like now…

So gotta go.

One Reply to “Vancouver Olympics, day 11: Panoramic Images”

  1. Kari, this is great stuff, amazing that you fix this log in “a couple of minutes”…between your “publishing time”…thanx!! The last one about “the pool photo­graphers” is top ! It must be great working like this…if the sun shines :))) !
    Looking forward to the next stuff!


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