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Howell Photographic Arts
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Short Hills June Party

edgeThe former first lady of Short Hills, Laurie Dalfonso, joins the Almost Brothers for a little impromptu “Mammas and Pappas” (At least I recall California Dreaming … :-). We had approximately 150 members and guests come out for the summer party event at Short Hills. It was great seeing all the old gang and a number of new acquaintances as well.

When guests arrived they were greeted by the president Craig Thatcher, and his wife LeAnne, as well as the head of Entertainment Tim Newcomb and his wife Carolyn. After a complimentary Blue Hawaiian the guests moved to the patio to listen to the Almost Brothers and to the ballroom where the chef had quite a selection of Pacific / Asian / Tropical fair. The coconut shrimp and the teriyaki shrimp were my personal favorites.

Of course there was socializing and dancing poolside on the patio, on the deck, in the Pavilion, and in the Ballroom. It was a perfect evening and a great event.

I didn’t stay very long as I wanted to make it an early evening as I’m off to Germany in the morning. Still, I was able to grab a few photos.

IT Leadership Community Service

edgeThe John Deere Global IT Leadership Team dedicated the afternoon with a Community Service Project at Arrowhead Ranch to help celebrate John Deere’s 175th anniversary in business. The Arrowhead Ranch staff was very organized, easy to work with, and was very happy to have us there to help. We broke into 6 teams and did a wide variety of clean up activities including: weeding, tree trimming, painting, pond cleaning, brick edging removal, workshop cleaning, and a few other activities. Arrowhead ranch kept us hydrated with water, sodas, and an ice cream break. The entire team worked very hard and it was a very satisfying endeavor.

After the Community Service Project, we caravanned to the John Deere Construction Demo site to socialize, eat dinner, have a few drinks, and play a few games of corn bag toss. Here are a few photos of the days activities.

Calvary Lutheran Panorama

edgeNot far from the Quad Cities, in Illinois, there is a very nice community called New Windsor. While New Windsor is famous in our area as the host of the “Biggest Little Rodeo” … it should also be known as one of the nicest “country” church around. You don’t need directions to get to Calvary Lutheran as it is a very prominent landmark in New Windsor that would be difficult to miss. This is the church home to a few of my friends and colleagues and in particular Eric Young asked me to do a 360 Panorama of the sanctuary. Here’s my attempt.

I used a 35mm lens at f16 on my iDmkIV for this pano and therefore took 75 frames to stitch together. I did 5 horizontal rows of 25 frames each with a Nodal Ninja 5 pano head. Church sanctuaries, in particular, have a lot of dynamic range to them with some dark shadowy areas and some brightly lit highlight areas. This one was no exception, and was particularly challenging since it was a bright, clear day and the morning sun was shining directly in the stained glass windows over the entry doors. Therefore I used HDR processing to accommodate this high dynamic range scene and used 7 exposures of each frame with a 2eV step between each exposure to capture a 12eV total range. As a result, I ended up with 525 separate images to process into this single panorama.

The image you see above is the flattened “sphere” that results from the stitching and HDR operations. I use a software product called PTGui, which uses the Open Source Pano Tools project, to get this far. I am pretty proud of the quality of the stitching. While it took me a little white to hand tune the control points for the image, the result is pretty satisfying. I have yet to identify a stitching error.

The HDR part is a little more challenging and I continue to experiment with different HDR processors to improve the image to capture more of the detail in the windows. One of my challenges is that this image is pretty large, something like 37,000 x 12,000 pixels. It’s difficult to find good software tools that can handle these types of images. (The resulting photoshop file of the above image, including each of the 7 blend planes is something like 30GB is size).

So far I’ve tried true HDR Tone Mapping and Exposure Fusion with PTGui and then improve the image in Photoshop CS5. The above image was created with Exposure Fusion processing and is an improvement over the the HDR Tone Mapping I tried originally. I’ll update these as I go along.

Even though I am using a 4 core i7 processor with 12GB of memory, these images take days to process … literally.

While this is an interesting overview of the Panorama, the objective is to create a virtual environment that the user can navigate around and zoom in and out as they see fit. Therefore I use another set of tools called krpano to convert the above flattened sphere into 6 faces of a cube, these are then combined into a large set of multiple resolution files that use Flash for display on PC’s and HTML5 for display on mobile devices. You’ll be able to zoom in more on PC’s and Mac’s than you’ll be able to on mobile devices

I hope you enjoy this display of the Calvary Lutheran Church in New Windsor, IL.

Short Hills hosts the AJGA

edge132 of the nation’s best junior’s golfers came to Short Hills for a week full of golf. It was pretty humbling to see these kids with the grooved swing throwing darts at our greens. I loved the buzz. Here are a few photos of the second round.

SHCC Retains Velie Cup

edgeShort Hills Country Club’s Sunday Team posing with the Velie Cup. They started the day six strokes ahead and finished with a resounding 21 stroke victory. Congratulations! Feel free to peruse the photos of the day.

SHCC Mueller Cup

edgeThe Sunday Mueller cup team gets ready to tee off at Davenport Country Club. It was a challenging course for coach Lewis’ first outing. Here are a variety of photos from the day.

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