The higher resolution version of the Schlachtensee Pano shot / panorama from early February. This was a magic week. Temperatures and light were just perfect and the ice was incredible untouched. This pano is from the P3A.
For those not familiar with the Berlin south west. The Schlachtensee region is known in Berlin as the area where the people who love dogs used to have some conflicts with those that go for a run and/or the other way around. I think the conflict has been cooling down now somewhat fortunately! In summer its great to have a swim here early in the morning. Skating in winter only works every 5-10years – so these days in February were kind of unique. (Pano from 4 different shots: resampled to 4300×1300).
Spend the last weekend at the International Swim Meeting 2017 – shooting a swim event. Pretty complex conditions but some nice shots are now online here:
The challenge clearly is A. to get the timing right (varies with the different swim styles/techniques), B. to be at the right position for the different styles, and C. get all the participants covered ;).
At the ISM C. is clearly impossible (there are just too many participants), timing works ok when you practice and/or when you can fire away with a speedy camera (but 9fps are not enough … ), B is difficult especially with the 50m and 100m competitions – there is basically not enough time with 50-100m runs. Freestyle seems to be the most challenging – its difficult to plan where the athletes take their breath – its a hit and miss – it feels as if you are always on the wrong side of the pool.
Some other issues come together here. The venue is very warm, and humidity is very high, its difficult to keep track where you are in the overall event program when you fully dive into shooting specific situations.
Some shots from different approaches that I tried:
Did some more tests with the Phantom 4 Pro:
The into the sun shots just capture a lot of flare and the sun star is very much Samyang 14mm like. This is an issue and it reduces the image acuity for 3D point cloud modeling for object measurements as well as for the landscape panorama approach.
The against the light shots look very much like the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm lens character. The sunstar has light rays that increase in size from the center and these rays cover the full frame of the 1inch sensor when the illumination comes from one of the outer edges. It clearly degrades the full image when the lens is stopped down to f.e. f8 but gets better when the lens is driven wide open. There seem to be some diffraction effects at work that are clearly not so great. You can drive the camera to generate sharp sun stars, but as usual here the characteristics of this star make a difference to some of us. The Samyang like star is not so well received. The linked flare issue however is much more a problem because it is hard to avoid when you have the sun in your frame and when the lens is stopped down to f8 or f11. For some scenarios a lens hood may be useful but its only functional for those shooting scenarios where the sun is not within your FoV.
To be honest I am bit puzzled … this is the first affordable 1-inch sensor platform with nice resolution and better DR, but – the flare issue is likely killing some of the potential ideas that you might develop with this machine. A pitty!
Comparison shot done with the Phantom 3A, clearly shows that the lens/sensor combi wont give the same amount of flare here (again different light level and different sun illumination angle):
Have done some tests with the new Phantom 4 Pro that I am using in 2017 for some research projects on photogrammetric point cloud mapping. This is a remarkable step forward in terms of image quality. The Phantom 4 Pro just creates much better image detail and acuity and resolution/sharpness is on a much higher level compared to the Phantom 3A. Its just giving back the DSLR like quality on tiny airborne systems. Also SNR (signal to noise) is much better and dynamic range ist enhanced. Only problem so far seems to be a slightly higher sensitivity to flare but I have to do some more analysis on this one. Its difficult to compare the flare issue because you cannot create exactly the same exposure / image concepts for different copters in the air. It will always be a wee bit different. So some ground based comparison needs to be done here.
This is a game changer for photographers that need an airborne system sometimes. As simple as that. It brings the image quality that we wanted back and you always can add HDR and Pano techniques to add from that. Great times to let your creativity fly!
Some shots from recent test flights with the P3A and the P4Pro:
Some thoughts I wrote down originally for the KLASSIKER Journal (4.2016) of the FKY.
“Gedankensplitter zur Yachtfotografie. Die Visualisierung dieses Spannungsbogens von Wind, Wetter, Wasser, Yachten und dem puren Segelsport ist an Vieldimensionalität kaum zu überbieten. Kaum ein Sport ist so stark abhängig vom Wetter, vom Wind, von den äußeren hochvariablen Bedingungen. In der Wandelbarkeit des Wetters und damit des Lichtes und des Wassers liegt auch die Vielschichtigkeit der photographischen Visualisierung des Segelsports. Dazu versucht man Emotionen, Anspannung und Fokussiertheit, die Konzentration beim AmWind-Segeln oder den Flow bei der Gleitfahrt der schnellen Bootsklassen auf den Raumshotgängen einzufangen. Bei den klassischen Yachten sind die dunklen, satten Farben der Holzmaserungen, die tiefe Lacke mit dem silbrigen Glanz spiegelnder Oberflächen, aber auch die vielen Beschlagdetails mit ihren Totalreflexionen und die Rigg-Ästhetik mit ihren vielen Diagonalen und Kreuzungen faszinierende Bildelemente, mit denen man gestalten kann. Dazu kommt die Faszination der Linien, der herrlich schlanken harmonischen Formen, der Überhänge, die sich in Lee ins Wasser schmiegen – Länge machen und herrlich unterschneiden, Wasser zu kleinen Juwelen zerreiben, in denen sich das Licht funkelnd bricht. Auch das Wissen um den kulturellen Wert vieler Konstruktionen oder die Arbeit in jahrelangen Restaurierungsprojekten verleiht der Yachtfotografie eine besondere Magie.
All dies kombiniert sich zu einer Domain für photographische Abenteuer mit unendlich vielen Spielweisen in vielen Licht- und Wettervariationen, die immer wieder neu fasziniert – neue Vorstellungen von Bildkonzepten aufsteigen lässt, die sich zu fixen aber ungeheuer energiegeladenen Ideen entwickeln, deren erfolgreiche Umsetzung auf dem Wasser aber ein Quell geradezu irrer Befriedigung darstellt. Manchmal gelingt was man plant, oft jedoch diktieren die Regatta-Bedingungen die Bildergebnisse und man jagt wild und nass im Zodiac die optimalen spannungsgeladenen Perspektiven, wartet auf die perfekte Rigg-Überlappung bei maximaler Krängung oder auf das dramatische Eintauchen in die nächste Welle, auf das Unterschneiden des Lee-Decks, prävisualisierend und Wendepunkte im Blick, Bewegungsvektoren weiterdenkend. Wie die Regattasegler die perfekten Winddreher und den schnellsten Weg nach Luv, so sucht man die perfekte Komposition, denkt an Lichteinfallswinkel, Telekompression, Schärfeisolation, Spitzlichter oder Reflexionen im Weitwinkel, Hintergrundobjekte und mögliche Landmarken, beobachtet, verschiebt die eigene Position, wägt ab und entscheidet, konzentriert sich auf das perfekte Timing wenn die angedachte Komposition sich realisiert, der Weitwinkelshot perfekt die Sonne anschneiden soll – vergisst den Tag und ist am Abend doch glücklich müde mit Salz im Haar, durchgeschwitzt mit schmerzenden Armen, barfuß in nassen Schuhen und – voller starker Momente. Its Yacht Photography! ;-)“ Sören Hese
The mother of all lenses: the Nikkor AFS 400mm f2.8G VR ED
This is one of the lenses that most serious sports photogs have in use regularly. Its THE bread&butter lens of the soccer/football/car racing and swimming/athletics sports photographers. This is a really heavy lens (4.62 kg) and even if you come from a 300mm f2.8 lens design, the size and weight upgrade in significant. Also the price of this lens makes it mostly appear in the hands of those that get assignments and sell some shots. An equipment insurance is pretty much a given when you buy yourself into this level of equipment. Dropping an 7-9k investment is kind of horrifying. However when Nikon upgraded this lens in 2015 the old VR version plummeted in price to the 4500-6000€ region on the second hand market. Its never less a heavy investment and the lens better delivers image quality at this price point.
Well it clearly does. Sharpness is crisp @2.8 also into the far edges and even a wee bit better than my trusty Nikkor AF-S 300mm f2.8 MkI and depth of field at f2.8 is minimal to a point where lens AF calibration plays a critical role to achieve perfectly focused images. Background blur and bokeh are just what you expect. The lens clearly puts every background into a creamy fading soup of smooth changing color tones. Bokeh-balls are well defined without being too edgy. If you up micro contrast to the max some minor onioning is visible within the bokeh balls but you have to search it. Bokeh is a bit “better” (less nervous) than using the AFS MkI 300mm f2.8 and adding a TC14mkII. You can also add the TC14 to the 400mm and you get a nice and very sharp 550mm f4 lens (you will also need a new AF-lens-calibration set for that combination).
Fig.: This lens is big, it even dwarfs the 14-24 or the 70-200 – getting used to this size makes you feel liberated when you hold the 70-200 setup.
Autofocus is the fastest I can remember when compared with other lenses and the Nikkor AF-S 300 mm f2.8 designs are already fast focusing (I can only compare to the AFS mkI version – the most recent incarnation focuses possibly as fast as the 400mm AFS VR). There is no color fringing at all @f2.8. Even the far edges seem to have no signs of CA. You will hardly need any CA-control in post processing. Even in out-of-focus areas CA is nearly absent – there is a tiny amount of green/purple tint but its hard to find. VR (its Nikons VRII generation) is very efficient and clearly helps to stabilize some shots. I usually do not test the VR function much. Its a pretty much an overrated feature imo, for some sports its just useless as you will need very short exposures anyway to get the shot. Its however very useful when you do stabilized pans of moving objects.
Continue reading “400mm at its best – shooting the background-blur-king”
Multicopter Photography and Photogrammetry
Late this year I bought a Phantom 3A (Advanced). The prices went down and these platforms are so affordable now that it makes sense to test it out.
The main applications for my work are multifolded:
- Special shootings for paying clients,
- regatta event shots from above,
- very early morning misty landscape stills and
- large scale or near range photogrammetric mapping for research purposes with applications in forest biomass mapping and archaeology as well as biotop-typ delineation and fine scale analysis of vegetation structure and slope stability analysis.
Clearly 1-3 and 4 will very nicely cooperate. Its just wonderful to experience how photography and research can come together here, makes me wonder sometimes how I managed to get into that cool spot where I get payed to fly a remote controlled camera … :-)
Being not new to copter flying, I found the Phantom 3 to be really easy to fly. Once you mastered the documentation and some basic theory about controlling a quadro-copter its really a simple excercise to control these devices. This is mainly due to the perfect GPS controlled position hold of the Phantom. It just stays where you put it (in opposite to gliders) and this makes it also kind of boring to fly a copter. The DJI GO app that is used on a mobile device to check the telemetry data and to control the lifeview provides a nice overview about position, viewing angle and overall status of your copter. You can also modify shooting parameters, change the camera viewing direction and check speed, height and remaining flight time, battery status and the number of satellites. Other apps support fully automatic mapping modes with variable overlap configurations (Data Mapper or Drone Deploy).
P3 installed on a LowePro backpack fully functional with installed props and ready to fly in a minute.
Some DJI Phantom 3 A Specs:
- Image Data capturing in 12MP Adobe DNG RAWs, gimbal stabilized! & damped. 2. HDR with 5 exposures each 0.7EV under/over-ex-> RAW DNG HDR computation. 3. Sony EXMOR 1/2.3“, 12.4MP, 94°lens (20mm focal length equiv. tilt.), ISO100-3200, 8-1/8000s, single shot, multiple shot, exposure series (3/5), DNG RAW format, video: FHD upto60p, 2.7k upto30p, 4. Memory: MicroSD up to 64GB cat10.
- Control: GPS/GLONASS controlled position hold, visual Realtime-Position-Tracking (VPS – Vision Positioning System) up to 3m flight alt. (P4pro: 10m). RTH (Return to Home Funktion), Battery Low RTH, Security-RTH, software controlled flight altitude (override possible): 120m, autostart/-landing, beginner modi, (OrbitModi/anti- collision (infrared/ultrasonic)/ActiveTracking/terrain follow: P4/pro/Mavic), P-GPS – GPS controled stabilising (+/-10cm position), P-OPTI (optical position control & stabilizing), P-ATTI modi (flight altitude only (barom.) – copter could start to drift).
- Flight parameters: weight: 1280g, climb: 5m/s, descend: 3m/s, Vmax: 16m/s (ATTI) – 60km/h, flight altitude max: 6000 m (airspace above 100 m needs a clearance (approval), RC max distance: 5km, flight time: 23 min (30min: P4pro), RadioControl: 2,4khz RC with iPad/iPhone (build in DJI Lightbridge System), realtime lifeview control per DJI GO App.
Continue reading “Multi Copter Photography and Photogrammetry”
Winter break for the Yacht/Regatta racing event photo shootings. Good to reorganize, sending some stuff for repair and to rethink about some approaches. I will also give some other sports a try this winter – some other water related sports … :)
Have been also looking into micro multicopter based photogrammetry with the Phantom lately – so there will be a small review about the capabilities here with more details soon.
Nachgereicht: da ja die Regatta um den Kaiserpokal (BYC) und der Seglerhauspreis (VSaW) zeitgleich stattfanden war etwas schwierig beide Events abzudecken. Den Seglerhauspreis konnte ich daher kaum ernsthaft fotografieren. Einige Bilder zumindest der 29er sind aber jetzt online hier zu sehen:
Unglücklicherweise hat es massiv geregnet zu dem Zeitpunkt als ich beim 29er Feld war. Der Sonntagmorgen brachte allerdings nochmal sehr gutes Licht.
Some shots from the Soling German Open 2016 in Berlin are online now here:
I am trying to finish the events galleries that somehow got lost in busy September. Next will be the “Seglerhauspreis” – that was partly drowned in rain.