Sunday, August 23, 2009

Media Lab's SiteGrinder

Welcome back. Once again, it's been some time since I've wrote in my blog and I've found a worthy cause. MediaLab's SiteGrinder Pro. For those of us that love photography AND want custom website but don't want to pay others to do it, we have to learn Adobe's Dreamweaver and sometimes - depending on how fancy you want to get - Adobe Flash. Those are both wonderful and powerful software suites, but pretty complicated. I have pondered the thought of how hard it would be to do more web design in Adobe Photoshop but gave up for a while. Then I was reading a copy of Layers Magazine that my Aunt Karen had given me and I saw an ad for SiteGrinder 2 Pro.

I downloaded the demo and played with it extensively. Wow, what a wonderful piece of software! You completely design your layout in Photoshop and tell SiteGrinder (A Plug-In) what you want various links and other options to do, click a button and it outputs everything to proper HTML and CSS code. Amazing! As some of you may know, I am the webmaster for the International Association of Panoramic Photographers. I have been looking for ways to get away from PHP and into a more design-oriented program to design the site. After using this, I have decided to purchase SiteGrinder 2 Pro and run with it. I will be rolling out a new site for IAPP here in the next month or so and hope it'll be better than the last. I think that it'll be a lot better to start from scratch, relatively, and roll with it.

After that I will be re-designing my website. While SiteGrinder 2 Pro doesn't have all the capabilities of Adobe Dreamweaver, it does have quite a selection. From drop down windows to image galleries, it is something that I think every photographer who uses Adobe Photoshop and designs their own website should take a look at. Is it expensive? Yes, the pro version is around $350. Does it make my life a whole lot easier? Yes, very much so. You can insert HTML snipetts, Adobe Flash elements, PHP elements and much more.

So, when I do get the new IAPP website rolling, I will definitely share it with you and look for your comments and suggestions. Speaking of IAPP, we're almost sold out on our Albuquerque, NM Photo Safari at the International Balloon Fiesta. That should be a wonderful event. I will not be in attendence this time, but will, more than likely, be at the international convention next year. Also, IAPP has opened their 2009 annual photo competition. There will be cash prizes along with a GigaPan Epic 100 and a copy of PTGui Pro awarded to the winners. If you do the panoramic thing, be sure to enter your best images! I wish you the best of luck!

Anyway, until we meet again, make some more photos and enjoy your time doing so!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

GigaPan - Part II.V

Well, after using the Nikon P6000 on my trip to Willamsburg and Jamestown I decided that it was not up to part. The GPS feature didn't work as well as desired and many other minor things that made the Canon G10 more worthwhile. So, from this point forward, all images that I post to here or (Search: akerson - and you'll find my images).

After playing around with the Canon G10, I've found it to be quite a nice camera. It seems a better build than the Nikon P6000 and it has more optical zoom. That allows me to make an even larger image due to the fact it'll have to take more images to create the panorama or mosaic. The image quality seems a bit better, too. One major feature that I'm impressed with is it's ability

Anyways, just for the record, all images from this point forward will be with the Canon G10. I use a Promaster (AKA Repackaged Delkin) 16GB memory card, the GigaPan Epic 100 and a Gitzo tripod and head.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

GigaPan - Part II

Well, I am finding that I love this Epic 100. I am really looking forward to GigaPan's release of their DSLR version. I think it'll be really nice to be able to use my Nikon camera and whatever lens I prefer.

That said, I had a pretty good time in Williamsburg and Jamestown Virginia with the Epic 100. Unfortunately a couple of panos were ruined due to the fact I knocked the calibration out of whack and didn't notice it. Operator error. Aside from that, my biggest issue was other tourists either just walking right in front of the camera (While looking at it, none the less) or tourists asking me what the heck that contraption was and what I was doing with it. I don't mind explaining what I'm doing and how the GigaPan works though. I enjoy promoting panoramic photography and all the tools that are out there. It's also great for someone to come up and say they've read all about it and were really excited to see it.

Anyways, here are a few images I took while out in Jamestown and Williamsburg. They're not wonderful, but I like a couple of them. Remember to check out Panorama - The Journal of Panoramic Imaging for my full review of the GigaPan Epic 100. Also, be sure to enter some images into the International Association of Panoramic Photographers 5th annual photo contest. (

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

GigaPan Epic 100

So the International Association of Panoramic Photographers is working with GigaPan Systems in the 2009 IAPP photo contest. As part of it, I am writing a review for the Panorama Journal (A magazine IAPP members receive) and boy this thing kicks major butt. This post will be my first thoughts on the GigaPan Epic 100.

The GigaPan Epic 100 is specifically made for larger point and shoot cameras (Like the Canon G10 and the Nikon P6000) and smaller DSLRs with light lenses (Nikon D40/D60/D80/D90 and some of the Canon Rebels). There is a rumor of a full size DSLR version in the works. I'm working with the Nikon P6000, which is a 13MP camera with built in GPS geotagging. The GigaPan unit is mounted on my Gitzo Basalt tripod with a magnesium head. The GigaPan will take full 360 degree images or it will let you program in a specific size.

When I got the package with the GigaPan, I was really impressed. Pulling it out of the box, it looked amazingly simple and possibly very basic. But, upon further inspection, it has a full set of menus that will let you do quite a bit. After configuring the camera for the nodal point, I took some shots with it. It was really neat to see it do what it did. Of course, there were some parallax errors. I had to fine tune the setting of the camera, but it worked out.

One nice thing about the GigaPan is that they have some wonderful videos to help you get the unit setup if you have issues. Of course I watched these videos prior to receiving the unit so it made setting it up a bit easier.

After a few test shots outside I finally figured out where it needed to be. Amazing. I made a full 360 degree image of my street. After taking about 85 shots, I took it inside and threw it into their stitching software. It took about an hour or so to stitch and blend but it got there. The software has issues that I'd like changed and options I'd like them to add, but that's for a later post. I also have PTGui Pro, so I put it in there, too, to see how it would stitch. I don't want to seem like I'm complaining about their software, it does a great job. I just would like a bit more control over the exporting of the image.

Anyway, the image came out nice. Then the software allows you to upload the image directly to your account for viewing and embedding. They also have a system to where to can embed your images with a view into your own website. You can even embed the image into Google Earth. Pretty neat stuff. People can view it, leave comments and other stuff. I am incredibly impressed with it.

So, first glance: I love this thing. I'm taking it on a couple of trips in the next few weeks, so we'll see how it works out. Here is the shot for your viewing pleasure:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's Me Again!

Well, I guess I should post something since it's been a while and a number of people are wondering if I died or something. It's been a pretty busy couple of months for me. I had a three page spread on scanning in View Camera magazine. That was pretty cool. I was also published once again in Panorama.

One cool thing for me is that I'm testing the GigaPan Epic 100 for GigaPan Systems. If you don't know what that is, it's a robotic panoramic tripod head that will automatically get all the shots to create a very large panorama. They're relatively inexpensive, but they don't have one for DSLR's yet. (There is word that one that supports DSLR's will be released later this year, but that may just be a rumor...)

Another thing that's going on is that the International Association of Panoramic Photographers (IAPP) is holding their annual panoramic photography contest. There's over $5,500 in cash and product prizes so far and we're building that up. One of the prizes will be a GigaPan Epic 100 - as they are one of our major sponsors for the contest. The Fuji Masterpiece Award will also be given out to one of our best photographers. Check it out at

Well, that's the news here. I hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day weekend! Thank a Veteran and remember those who have paid the ultimate price for our country. God bless America!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The New Year

Well, it's a new year and time for new things. For me, I plan on shooting exclusively in the 6x17 format as much as possible for my fine art work. I'm also planning on finishing my book written on panoramic photography in both digital and film mediums. I will market this book to publishers and if that doesn't work out, produce it myself. My goals aren't necessarily huge, but they need to be accomplished. I also plan to work on images that continue to push myself outside the box on what I normally do.

I'd like to take a second and thank everyone who has supported me, encouraged me, and helped me throughout the past year. This definitely includes my fine collectors - for without them I would be nowhere. You are my inspiration to provide more high quality images for you to hang on your walls. It also includes my wonderful wife who let's follow my heart with photography and my parents who also provide plenty of support. (Not to mention, strokes of the ego! Good family!) Thank you all!

In the month of January, I will be published in two magazines this month on scanning methods for medium and large format film utilizing more budget-minded products. In an economy like this, not all of us can afford to drop five to ten thousand - if not more - on ultra-high quality drum scanners or have people that do have them scan them for us. Both magazines are available internationally. The first is View Camera magazine, produced and edited by Steve Simmons. The second is Panorama - The Journal of Panoramic Imaging produced by the International Association of Panoramic Imaging.

On that note, I take great pleasure in telling everyone that I have also been voted in as a member of the board of directors for the International Association of Panoramic Photography. We, as a board, have great plans to conduct multiple workshops throughout the United States along with an international convention scheduled for 2010 more than likely in the Southwest.

Well, I do hope that you all have a wonderful year and capture beautiful images. Please feel free to contact me at any time with your comments on any of my articles or any other questions related to panoramic images or scanning methods.

Now, get out there and start shooting!