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Thread: Hit & Miss

  1. #1
    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Hit & Miss

    Here we are, in the 21st century. Vehicle performance being optimized by computer control systems, design engineers pressured to extract every bit of energy from the fuel, and where does that fuel come from - oil wells with pump jacks powered by 100 year old stationary engines.

    Here, in North Central Texas, many oil well pump jacks are powered by electric motors, while a few demonstrate the engineering of times long past. Stationary hit and miss engines, like the one pictured here, reliably run, day or night, hot or cold, year round just as they have been for over a life time.

    I just got done processing this. Photographed with my Sigma SD14 through my Orion 1250mm f/13.9 ( 90mm ) Maksutov Cassegrain at f/13.9, 1/200th, ISO 400. The angle of view was too small to capture the whole engine in one exposure. This is the result of a mosaic comprising 9 exposures. It took a bit to make sure the motion blur of the running engine didn't ruin the final image.

    Hit & Miss

    Even with the vibration sensitivity, contrast issues, and vignetting inherent with a Maksutov Cassegrain, this turned out well.

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    Re: Hit & Miss

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post

    I just got done processing this. Photographed with my Sigma SD14 through my Orion 1250mm f/13.9 ( 90mm ) Maksutov Cassegrain at f/13.9, 1/200th, ISO 400. The angle of view was too small to capture the whole engine in one exposure. This is the result of a mosaic comprising 9 exposures. It took a bit to make sure the motion blur of the running engine didn't ruin the final image.
    Hi Steaphany,

    Nice picture. Could you explain in more detail what you did to take this picture and the reason you went to ISO 400 with a small aperture.

    Thanks!

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    Re: Hit & Miss

    This engine is located in a field and I don't know the land owner to have gotten permission to photograph it up close. This was shot from the fence line on the shoulder of the road passing the field.

    The Orion 1250mm, 90mm , Maksutov Cassegrain is a small astronomical telescope and has a fixed aperture of f/13.9 and there is no way to adjust it.

    ISO 400 was chosen to compensate and get the shutter to 1/200th so that most of the engines motion froze while leaving enough to provide a sense that it's running.

    Since the angle of view was 0.95x0.63, it still turned out to be too tight which is why it took a 9 frame mosaic to capture the whole engine.

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    Re: Hit & Miss

    Quote Originally Posted by Steaphany View Post
    This engine is located in a field and I don't know the land owner to have gotten permission to photograph it up close. This was shot from the fence line on the shoulder of the road passing the field.

    The Orion 1250mm, 90mm , Maksutov Cassegrain is a small astronomical telescope and has a fixed aperture of f/13.9 and there is no way to adjust it.

    ISO 400 was chosen to compensate and get the shutter to 1/200th so that most of the engines motion froze while leaving enough to provide a sense that it's running.

    Since the angle of view was 0.95x0.63, it still turned out to be too tight which is why it took a 9 frame mosaic to capture the whole engine.
    Wow, Thanks. I actually thought that is a weird name for a lens but had no idea it is a telescope!

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    Re: Hit & Miss

    Here is the link:

    Orion Apex 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

    You can't find a lens with a focal length on the order of 1,250mm as inexpensive as this, and you can see the performance I have achieved.

    But, it does take a fair learning curve to tackle all the intricacies.

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    Re: Hit & Miss

    cool,,,have you taken and can u post some space images?

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    Re: Hit & Miss


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    Re: Hit & Miss

    Wow. How on earth (astrophotography pun unintentional) did you manage to get the flywheel spokes consistently aligned with a composite mosaic?

    And I love the fact that that there's something like 6 or 7 totally different hues of decay in this poor little workhorse machine. I love the colours.

    The idea of a telescope for a long prime lens is a great one - it actually makes it affordable! The best maximum focal length I could afford was 515mm (Sigma 50-150mm EX II zoom with Sigma 2X EX Teleconverter, adjusted for APS sensor coverage). I was wondering if the mirror would introduce 'holey bokeh' (not a batman quote), but the background manages to not appear distracting.

    Thanks,
    dlj
    (another satisfied Foveon user)

  9. #9
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    Re: Hit & Miss

    It's a simple trick to get the flywheel right, I just shot it in a single exposure. The blending and over lap between frames was primarily with slow to static areas of the over all scene.

    Here is the as shot frame:

    Hit & Miss

    The diminished contrast and vignetted corners are typical of a Maksutov Cassegrain telescope. One thing that helps is the Foveon imager in my SD14 is 20.7mm x 13.8mm, less than a 35mm frame, otherwise the vignetting would be far more significant. As you can see, the SD14 with the Orion 1250mm f/13.9 Maksutov Cassegrain has a area of view of only 0.95x0.63, the 35mm equivalent focal length turns out to be 2,125mm - All from a scope that's 10.5" long, 4" diameter and just 3.7lbs, selling new for $229.95US. Since the SD14's viewfinder has a focal length of 55mm, the as seen magnification with this Maksutov Cassegrain is 22.5X.

    Of course, to tie a SLR to a telescope pretty much requires a T mount adapter compatible with your camera body. For my Sigma SD14's SA mount, I found a seller on ebay out of India selling these. For other SLR camera mounts, you can find T mount adapters just about everywhere.

    To see how things evolved, here is the frame after processing with Sigma Photo Pro and and later adjustments within Photoshop:

    Hit & Miss

    The slope of the terrain left the background surrounding the engine being nothing but grass and foliage. In the lower left corner, some grass detail remains because this was closest to the plane of focus. At the top of the frame, the pasture grasses were far more distant. One thing to do to ensure that you do not get the dreaded holey bokeh is to avoid anything that produces bright point source reflections or are point source lights. Had there been a car with chrome trim off in the distance, every glint of the Sun would have been imaged as the characteristic torus.

    Another thing that you need to keep in mind when using a telescope like this is vibration must be controlled. I had my SD14 set to Mirror Up mode and I used a wireless RF shutter control even with a 1/200th shutter speed. I also kept the camera strap from blowing in the breeze and allowed things to stabilize for 2 to 3 seconds between raising the mirror and triggering the shutter.

    Another hurdle to get past is using the proper tripod. A traditional camera tripod will just not allow fine enough motions, I've tried, though I must concede that you may have better luck - which means saving even more money. When shooting terrestrial or astronomical subjects with my SD14/Orion 1250mm f/13.9 Maksutov Cassegrain combo, I use a:

    Orion TeleTrack GoTo Altazimuth Telescope Mount

    This is a embedded computer controlled altitude azimuth telescope mount with tripod. For astronomical tracking of objects, it's not what I would consider ideal, the main flaw being the sky alignment is difficult without an illuminated reticule. Apart from that, it is wonderful for fine control, as I needed to do to shoot the mosaic frames.

  10. #10
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    Re: Hit & Miss

    Thanks - your comments help to highlight the pros & cons. I'm also using an SD14 after half a lifetime of Nikons.

    I never considered the extreme 'finickiness' of trying to hold and stabilize such a tiny field of view. Even my heavy indoor/studio tripod would probably not do well, and the travel tripod would surely be more trouble than benefit. So there are some other costs and considerations. I suppose the depth of field, even at a great distance, would still be extremely shallow too (i forwarded your post to a coworker that does vintage airplane photos, and he got all excited): I can just imagine using a computer controlled mount & tripod to follow a dive-bombing WWII plane, let alone keeping it in focus!

    I usually have pretty static subjects, so it would be much easier for me to adopt, but the complete set of tools to properly use it might not be as portable as I'd love for field use, which would be my preferred application. That Orion mount & tripod would be fantastically helpful for panos and compound/mosaic photos. It's true I realize now, that you would also need very high shutter speeds, unless you're in a (very big!) lab or studio. It sure must open up another world though.

    Still very interesting. Thank you for the clever idea. I'll check your photos if I can free up a few minutes when I get home (I tried them each, but our firewall blocks those linked sites - I'll enjoy seeing how you built the composites).

    dlj

    PS - on your site: was that 'Texas' ice?

  11. #11
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    Re: Hit & Miss

    dlj,

    Since you brought it up, your friend wanting a motion control system to track flying aircraft, The Orion TeleTrack GoTo Altazimuth Telescope Mount would just not cut it. Remember, this is intended for tracking astronomical objects, not aircraft.

    On it's slowest setting, it will slew at the same speed that the Sun, Moon, and stars travel across the sky, roughly 360 in 24 Hours. From there on up are nine more slew rates, but the highest is only 1000X faster than the slowest. When looking through the scope, things really zip by at the 1000X speed, but that is nothing like what would be needed to track a flying aircraft.

    If your friend is seriously interested, I do know of companies who design and manufacturer altitude azimuth camera tracking mounts intended for aerospace object tracking of high speed jets and missiles in flight.

    Yes, the Orion 1250mm f/13.9 ( 90mm ) Maksutov Cassegrain does have a very narrow depth of field. I personally do not consider this much of a hindrance since my post processing software collection includes TawbaWare's TuFuse Pro, a tool capable of taking a collection of images and performing focal blending and exposure blending. If you are interested in giving this a try, they have a free version TuFuse.

    - - -

    Yes, in my Imagekind gallery titled Texas I do have photos shot during the Texas Winter. Where I'm located, the Winter temperatures can get as low as 10F ( -12C ).

    When temps drop that low, I have to call my Horses in, not because they can't handle the cold, but my Horse Ginger loves to go swimming and I once caught her standing on a frozen pond as she bashed at the ice with her hoof. I knew she must have been thinking "Why is this so hard ? I want to go swimming !!!" Bang Bang Bang as she tried to break the ice.

    It does occasionally snow, but within 24 hours everything is completely melted away, barely enough for a few nice photos, and the worst Winter weather are ice storms, which I feel leave the most spectacular scenery.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 1st September 2009 at 12:03 AM.

  12. #12
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    Re: Hit & Miss

    Just wanted to follow-up a thank you for opening me up to TuFuse: not only nice looking high dynamic range results, but the extended focus range functionality just blew me away: I had no idea such technology existed! I've just had time now to read up on this a bit. It does make sense in hindsight (no pun intended), using local contrast image comparisons, the way an HDR app uses exposure comparisons.

    I have no problems with command-line driven apps, and in fact, that option always gives me extra flexibility in automating processes.

    I also had no idea that a pond or river could freeze so quickly, enough that a horse could actually be standing on the ice and trying to break through! In Texas, no less! Smart horse though, for knowing that the water must still be underneath, and not just 'gone'.

    Many thanks again.

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