Snowy Night

January 28th, 2008, 12:45 pm PST by Greg

It snowed in Burnaby yesterday (but somehow not most of the rest of the lower-mainland). After the last snowfall, I had looked out of the window at night and thought that the snow under the streetlights looked cool. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the presence of mind to do anything about it.

So last night, I grabbed my camera and panoramic tripod head and set out.

I walked north a few blocks to get away from Hastings (figuring that farther from Hastings would mean less traffic). My first stop was smack in the middle of a street for a full 360° panoramic shot:

street panorama

[You can click the link there for larger versions. If you have a Java plugin working, you can click the “View Panorama” link on the left of that page for a nice drag-around viewer.]

Making a panorama like this requires 40–50 separate frames (with the lens I have) that are then stitched together. Everything has to be set to manual on the camera (exposure, focus, white balance). The whole process takes 10–15 minutes for a single “picture”.

In this case, each frame was exposed for 1 second at f/5.6, ISO 1600. I left the white balance set for for tungsten light. That’s why the image has the orange colouring from the sodium streetlights. I only had to move our of the way of a car once during that shot.

Having had enough of dodging traffic, I found myself a convenient traffic circle for the next one:

traffic circle panorama

The camera settings were the same, except this time I set a custom white balance so the snow is actually white. That is exactly what I was hoping for when I set out.

On the way back, I saw some drops of water that had frozen on a little tree, and couldn’t resist stopping for one last shot of them. I set the aperture to f/2.8 for that shot for maximum Bokeh goodness.

Finally, with frozen fingers, I went home and fired up Hugin to get the panoramas together.

Edit 22:00: Shrunk the panoramas in the gallery. The Java VM seems to have a memory limit that wouldn’t let the originals display.

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