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[Nikon D70 Tokina 19-35 ISO200 F8ish raww > APP 1.4 > 43-shot pano about 93deg FOV horizontal, rendered to ~25%]


Note that I am Geo-tagging this as somewhere on Skyline Drive just north of the Blue Ridge parkway, which is really the most that I can remember of it...the one part that I do remember is Rt56 heading east off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just before it got pitch-black, as the the sun was going down behind the mountains across US81.


Trust me you don't want to do that on a bike.

Unless you're more than slightly suicidal.


So anyway this scene wasn't all *that* impressive but I definitely wanted a pano of it.

So the thing is that between Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge parkway much of it is similar, and there are just hundreds of overviews, with a few that really stand out (as one heads farther south the mountains get much more uniform and there are fewer large valleys), and there are miles and miles of road to ride and overviews to shoot, 200 miles and at least one overlook per mile...but it just deserves some real time and effort, but if you do that you'll never get through it. And it's tiring as hell to stop, pull out a camera, take shots, then put it away and get going again, especially if I pull my helmet and gloves off, especially if I have to pull it out of my backpack, which is what I was resigned to do as I couldn't get the straps short enough on my DSLR with a lens on it, to keep it from banging against the tank when I rode. So some sort of camera-carry on the tank is in order...or a smaller camera...or a lanyard of a cord...or a hip holster...but the main thing is that it's just a PITA to ride this and take shots every 500 yards or so. And it destroys the ride, on top of that. The thing to do is to ride about 45m or so, ride until I need to take a break, as mile after mile of twisty road and a succession of somewhat-near-to-death experiences gets a bit tiring on a bike, and then stop somewhere and take some shots. 250 miles at an average speed of 35mph, you're going to get plenty of good shots that way.


Don't give into the urge to stop and shoot everything that looks halfway-interesting, or to take a bunch of pictures every 2 or 3 minutes. And I think that holds in general. You don't want to ruin the trip in the process of trying to get a good picture (or more than one good perspective) of everything that's even remotely interesting. And in any case you're probably just going to come back with a bunch of average shots despite your best efforts, with *maybe* one or two good ones. The results will be better when you're not rushed, and you will be rushed if you spend too much time taking shots. Aside from the associated technical difficulties like perspective error in the above pano and poor shooting technique, which *will* happen, even if you take your'll still forget those little details and fight to get great framing, meaning at least 75% of the shots will be a waste...with one or two gems popping up in them. I'm fully aware that I tend to take a lot of shots because I move towards perfection rather than getting great shots as soon as I start to take pictures, and that makes me a lot more willing to take say 20 shots of a scene than I probably should be. But combining that with a whole lot of scenes to shoot and I spend a LOT of time and effort taking shots and come back with hundreds of them, of which maybe 10 or so are really any good. So I've learned to just cut the number of scenes that I shoot and give myself more time and energy to try to get good shots on a handful of them, even if in doing so I miss some good scenes altogether.


There's just so much crap to shoot along this road and in the end I have to have faith that I'll be up here again and there will be other times. Now if this was *Paris* or someplace similar, a place that is not just huge but full of interesting sights and I'd get there maybe once or twice in my life if I'm lucky, I'd pretty-much have to dedicate a day maybe two to just walking around and taking pictures. That actually works well, because then I'll go to and see places that I wouldn't have otherwise, and discover local idiosyncracies that I would never have thought of looking for, when my focus is on "tourism" and "going places that seem interesting" (which usually means something specific) and not just dropping myself into the stream of life and not worrying about anything more than just walking around and taking pictures of whatever suits me, maybe stopping to eat when I get hungry. My best shots and often my most enjoyable explorations come when I just forget about everything else for an afternoon and just wander around with a camera, a couple of lenses and a lot of film. Good digital gear and especially "great" lenses cost so much that I have to drop a grand or so into the gear, and that really cuts into that casual "let's stop here and eat" or "let's go on this excursion" that one really needs to get out and about and discover and enjoy the local scenery...spending a lot of money on gear for "tourist" shots is self-defeating, just like carrying a lot of big & heavy gear. Trust me, a $150 400g non-IS Tamron 28-300, a $100 200g Tamron 19-35, a $25 150g SLR body, a $15 100g 18" tripod and $10-$15 worth of film of eBay plus a $50 Epson V300 scanner back home will take you far especially in good light which is usually the case unless you insist on taking handheld shots around twilight. That's $350 worth of gear and the associated digital gear will cost you $300 just for the *body* even in a subframe, and you're not going to get the equivalent Tamron lenses for a subframe for under $200 each. For that kind of money you're locked into a G12 or S9100 or something similar. And they are fine for most wide-angle shots but you'll always be fighting the limited DR and 10-bit per channel color. They're just not DSLRs and can't take DSLR-quality shots. Or ok spend even more money for decent micro-4/3rds gear. The one thing is that I've yet to take film through airport security so I'm not quite ready yet to put my full "faith and security" into film for international travel. Plus, truly, the newer cameras mostly just focus better, faster and more reliably, than the old ones. So if you're going to use old gear you should be comfortable getting it to meter and focus reliably. But seriously between my BB9550 and my 500si and those two Tamron lenses I'm not really sweating. I'd rather have an A850 and the S9100, definitely, but that's $2500 worth of digital gear just to replace a functional and decent cellphone-camera and a good SLR. There are many things that I could do with $2500 other than take pictures slightly better than I can take them with the gear that I already have.


Funny thing, I had the N80 on me with the Tokina 19-35 and I had ISO1600 film in it...I didn't even think of finishing out the roll and putting some ISO100 in it and at least trying this shot with the two together. I have about 20 rolls of Fuji ISO1600, it may be a while before I shoot another roll of it much less finish those 20 rolls, though I'll probably run another roll or two through the 500si just for fun. I'm not buying a Tamron 28-300 regular for the N80 (though I might get one for the D70), and the debate now is whether the Tokina 19-35 will stay on the D70 or the N80. But it's going to be a long, long time before I buy another Tamron 28-300VC in Nikon-mount unless for some reason I buy a subframe and start to shoot movies. That was just a beast of a lens to haul around, and yes I know it's not even that big and heavy compared to say a 70-200 F4. I know. Doesn't change the facts when you're actually carrying it. I may have to try the Tamron 10-24 after all. If I want to shoot digital ultrawide landscapes cheep. KR whines that the Tamron 10-24 is much softer than the Nikon 10-24 when shot wide-open but I suspect that someone forgot to tell him that cheap zooms aren't supposed to be shot wide-open and with wide-angle shots who really cares if the corners aren't laser-sharp. Plus it's 18mm can shoot it at F11 handheld. One of the shots in this pano is 1/10s handheld at 30mm effective, came out fine. A lot of them were 1/15s.

Historia Mundi, 2009


The Sorceress

Vachel Lindsay


I asked her, "Is Aladdin's lamp

Hidden anywhere?"

"Look into your heart," she said,

"Aladdin's lamp is there."


She took my heart with glowing hands.

It burned to dust and air

And smoke and rolling thistledown

Blowing everywhere.


"Follow the thistledown," she said,

"Till doomsday, if you dare,

Over the hills and far away.

Aladdin's lamp is there."


The Hi-Res file is to be found here: