Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mangrove Tunnel Paradise: achieving sharpness from a canoe

In the Everglades National Park, there is a creek that connects two bays and is only a quarter mile in length. It is easily accessed by canoe or kayak and is traveled heavily during the winter season. Yet, it is the most beautiful (or maybe second most beautiful) creek I have seen in the park. In March, I spent an entire morning photographing inside the creek, working my way slowly from one end to the other. I took all my shots from the boat and did not step out to use a tripod.

The experience I had that morning directed me toward two paths, both concerning sharpness of an image and ability to stitch multiple images into one. Landscape photographers do whatever is possible in the field to get a sharp image and minimize parallex effect when taking multiple images for a single panoramic. See for yourself the amazing results from multiple images from one of the best landscape photographers in Florida, Paul Marcellini. How can I address these issues from a canoe? At the very least, a tripod is essential.

Which brings me to my strategy. The entire time I photographed in that creek, I kept thinking of ways that I could place the tripod in the water next to the canoe. Since that day, I have practiced a technique in other waters. It requires that there be absolutely no boat movement and that the tripod be firmly on ground and tethered to the boat.

There are a few specific locations where I want to test this out. Even more, I want to get back to that creek. In the meantime, I show images here taken from the boat. My Sony camera has an amazing image stabilization mechanism, which is why I went with Sony in the first place knowing I would do most of my photographing from a canoe. Hand holding the camera, I shot theseimages and the one directly above has been printed at 15x30. With some post-processing sharpening and chromatic aberration removal, it looks great and now hangs in my home and another in a friend's home.

Going out on a limb, the two images below are both stitched using two images each. These images demonstrate adequate sharpness as a result of Sony's IS and of course, lots of practice keeping the hands and boat steady. But, the quality of the images can get better, always.

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