On Friday 20th July, the Olympic torch relay passed through nearby Redhill. Have a look at the immersive panorama above to get a feel for the fantastic atmosphere that gripped the town as the torch arrived.
Our photos from the fantastic Pride London 2012 event are now on-line. This year was extra special as London hosted World Pride.
In addition to the crowd panorama above where you can zoom in and try and find yourself in Trafalgar Square, there’s a set of photos below from the parade and main stage events. Included in these photos are the on stage proposal, the performance by Boy George and the host and patron Gok Wan
Yesterday NASA released a high resolution false colour image from Mars. But not just any image, this is a 360 degree image comprised of 817 individual images over 136 Martian days by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.
NASA however has just stuck this image up on their servers, rather than presenting it at its full potential. So we’ve taken the image and presented it in a panorama player so you can explore it how it should be seen, and see what it’s really like to stand on mars.
With World Pride being held in London in just a few days, we thought we’d take the opportunity to look back on what we produced at last years fantastic event.
If you’re still unsure about whether or not to attend, just have a look around the fabulous tour linked above to get a feel of the for the fantastic atmosphere that was there. The turn out was phenomenal thanks to all the hard work put in by the organisers.
And if that’s not enough to convince you, check out the still photos we also captured while there for a little extra reminder.
On 12 June 2012 we were granted (in exchange for a small donation to Stonewall) access to Kings Reach tower owned by CIT for a fantastic opportunity to create high resolution imagery across central London.
When the date was arranged, the weather was looking beautiful, but unfortunately by the time the day came the British skies had returned to normality, dark and full of rain. It looked like the camera equipment was going to be soaked with appalling visibility, but just in time, in the later morning the rain cleared and although the clouds remained, the visibility became excellent.
Using equipment based on the Panogear hardware from Kolor, a super-telephoto lens and a current generation DSLR, around 2500 images (60GB) were captured from opposite sides of the roof. In less than a week these were the processed using multiple software packages into the pair of panoramas which you see above, giving you the fantastic opportunity to explore all the major landmarks of central London in scrutinising detail.
Here’s one I’ve been sitting on a little while. Remember that snow we had back in the beginning of February? Well during that we shot a couple of 360 scenes to show off the snow on the local common. These can be seen by clicking on the image below.
You can also see some stills from the day including some fun ones of various snowmen and sledging in the following Flickr set.
But wait, there’s even more. You’ll notice the “Fire and Ice” title of this post, clearly the Ice aspect is covered but to contrast, not long after the snow fell we shot a session with a fire juggler. The fruits of this can be seen by clicking the below image to see one 360 image with a small selection of stills embedded as a slideshow within the panorama.
Pixel binning is the process of combining the data in a group of pixels into a single pixel, such as a 2×2 or a 3×3 block. Doing so can increase the effective sensitivity or reduce the noise present in the resultant pixel. The trade off is of course reduced resolution in the final images.
To illustrate this consider the case of of the 2×2 block being combined to increase sensitivity. If the camera exposes an image for a quarter of the time that it normally would, each pixel is underexposed by 2EV. However when the pixel values are added up, the resulting single pixel will have the correct exposure. Therefore preforming this binning has created a single image with a resolution a quarter of the original, but shot at an ISO 2 stops more sensitive.
Pixel binning to average values (for reduced appearance of noise) is uninteresting. This averaging is performed by the majority of image editing software when an image is scaled down, which is done anyway to any image when prepared for the web.
Pixel binning for addition to simulate higher ISO values however is more interesting, this potentially unlocks a little extra performance in low light. The shorter exposures could be key in freezing motion in dimly lit areas such as at concerts or some sports.
But would this pixel binning really be any better than underexposing the image then correcting exposure in a raw processor? Does it really gain anything?
Searching doesn’t readily produce any software that will perform pixel binning, but fortunately Python facilitated the creation of a script that would take in a 16bit grey-scale image and bin the pixels by addition in just 9 lines.
The image above shows the results. Three test images were captured of the same scene at ISO6400 at 0,-2 and -3EV. The underexposed images were processed with the python script to bin the pixels up to the correct exposure (2×2 for -2EV, 3×3 for -3EV), simulating an ISO of 26K and 52K. The same images were also treated in adobe camera raw by adjusting exposure value, then scaling the image to match the binned image. For comparison the 0EV image has also been scaled to match. The images above are 100% crops from the images.
It’s quite easy to see that there is effectively no difference between the images that have been binned, compared to the images manipulated in Photoshop. And neither manages to match the level of shadow detail present in the image correctly exposed in the first place. A moment considering the maths behind the two processes shows the reason for the similar appearance.
Consider the case of 2×2 pixel binning. Label the 4 pixels A-D, and the binned pixel X. The additive binning method provides the straightforward equation:
Whereas the photoshop method multiplies each value by 4 (+2EV), then averages them:
Which clearly is identical. So does additive binning really provide any advantage over binning to average? Well in this case no, they are the same thing according to the equations above when done in post. The problem with the additive method is that the noise is also summed. Once the light incident upon a pixel falls below the noise floor, the data is pretty much lost and adding another three pixels at the noise floor just gives you more noise, rather than aiding recovery of shadows.
Can it still work?
So while you can do pixel binning in post if you want, it doesn’t particularly gain much. So is it still worth doing? Yes, when done during capture.
The key issue is overcoming the noise floor, and once the noise is present, no amount of post work with remove it. Read noise is one of the problems, which is the noise generated when the pixels are read from the sensor. If pixel binning is done on sensor, i.e the sets of pixels are combined before being read, then the read noise will be greatly reduced (one portion of noise per final pixel instead of 4/9/etc). This means that additive binning really can provide some benefit in this case by reducing that source of noise. This is performed in some point and shoot cameras where high ISO images come out with reduced resolution, but also on high end cameras such as the Phase One medium format backs with the Sensor+ setting.
Our location makes us fortunate enough to have been able to spend New Years Eve 2011/12 at the fantastic fireworks show in Central London, attended by hundreds of thousands of others and watched around the world by many more.
Of course a 360 panorama was produced, with an extra twist. A video of the fireworks display is embedded into the panorama., allowing you to see the full 10 minute display inside the scene.
Click the image below to see the video in the panorama. Navigate with the mouse.
A selection of stills are also available in the flickr set below.
The Tablets of the Missing is a 160m long memorial in the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge, UK. The wall contains over 5000 engraved names of dead or missing service personnel from WW2.
Click the image above to explore the full sized image with your mouse.
The engraving along the top reads:
The Americans whose names here appear were part of the price that free men for a second time in this century have been forced to pay to defend human liberty and rights – all who shall hereafter live in freedom will be here reminded that to these men and their comrades we owe a debt to be paid with grateful remembrance of their sacrifice and with the high resolve that the cause for which they died shall live eternally.
This image is originally from about 18 months ago, but the stitching was never satisfactory. Since then software has come a long way and a much better result has been produced. It is however still far from perfect with stitching errors aplenty. Ideally it needs to be shot again, but I am no longer in the vicinity of Cambridge, but will definitely have another go if ever revisiting.
When originally produced, the image was published on gigapan where it received a very humbling response as a few people tagged their fallen relatives. Quite moving.
On 28th/29th Oct, the Relentless Freeze Festival visited London’s Battersea Power station. With it came music, a retail park and of course freestyle competitions for ski and snowboard on a huge temporary snow jump.
Click the image above to revisit the festival. Experience the atmosphere at the top music acts and see the competitors fly off the ramp. For a slower pace explore the retail tent to the offerings or see the art in the graffiti area.
As a bonus, here’s a collection of stills from the event