From the makers of Those Aren't Olives.

Clipsal 500 2004

March 18th - March 21st, 2004
Please select a gallery page. This page also includes panorama images and production notes.

Page 01 In the air tonight, a tribute to Phil Collins
Page 02 In the air
Page 03 In the air
Page 04 Spectator appeciation
Page 05 Spectator appeciation
Page 06 Driver appreciation - Jason Bright, Craig Lowndes, "Lenny" Perkins
Page 07 The girls of the Clipsal 500
Page 08 The girls of the Clipsal 500
Page 09 The girls of the Clipsal 500
Page 10 An exercise in abstract
Page 11 An exercise in abstract
Page 12 On the track
Page 13 On the track
Page 14 On the track
Page 15 Almost off the track
Page 16 In the pits
Page 17 In the pits
Page 18 VB Challenge antics


Panorama 1Super hi-res panorama (2.6mb, opens in new window)

(More panoramas will be posted if I get around to finishing them...)

Gallery Notes

Pick of the bunch?

Although I'm pleased with most of the shots, particularly some of the spectator appreciation ones, I'd say my favourite photo here would be the first shot on the first Abstract page.

Why? It doesn't take much to amuse me sometimes, but I find the concept of a seat with directional instructions marked on it quite odd. The seats have "ASS" on it, heheh...

The shoot

This set of photos represents a small cross-section of the range I shot during the 4-day event - in 4 days, I shot over 650 photos totalling around 1.3gb in size. Most of the 72 photos here are displayed in their original framing, although some have been re-cropped slightly (mainly the aircraft shots). With the exception of two of the abstract images (which were each rotated by a few degrees), none of the pictures have had any processing applied to them, so everything has the same sharpness/colours/etc. as was originally captured by the cameras.

On several days I didn't pace myself too well so I ran out of space on my primary camera (the Optio S) before the day had finished, so I had to resort to taking shots with my backup camera, a trusty Canon PowerShot A40. A couple of shots from the selection posted in this gallery have a bit of fuzziness/noise in them - these photos were probably taken with the PowerShot.
Blame the PowerShot, not the operator... :)

Post production

The panoramas were "hand-stitched" using only Fireworks and a lot of patience. For initial composition and arrangements (—where I would align neighbouring photos and blend them together), the average working canvas was around 30,000 by 5,000 pixels. This meant the panorama needed to be separated into chunks, considering that Fireworks has an upper limit of 10,000 pixels for its canvas height/width...

Those three 10,000-pixel-wide 'mini'-panorama panels contained between three & five individual photos each, which were all distorted, merged and blended together in Fireworks, then saved natively as a PNG file (averaging just over 200mb a piece). The three panels were then merged and then resized down to a 10,000-pixel-wide crop, which was shrunk down further to 7000x700 for the website to allow easier screen viewing & scrolling.

It's taken about 3 days to prepare one panorama for the website, going from 10-12 original digital photos, to Fireworks for merging into three 200mb panels, then those panels were merged into one 600mb PNG (after many hours of chugging & program crashes...) for a final downsize and crop. The panorama was then exported to JPEG and we end up with the final product of a 7,000 by 700 pixel panorama weighing in at 2.6mb.

So, was it worth all the effort...?

For future reference...

Although I'm happy with how most of the standalone shots have turned out, there's definitely something to learn from my attempts in the panorama department. Every single experience with panorama-stitching software in the past had been really awful - the seams between shots were so noticeable and you'd often have so little flexibility when it came to fine-tuning the final render.

It was on the final day of the Clipsal 500, (sitting in the stands, waiting for the next race) when I considered that I possibly could merge several shots manually to produce a panoramic profile of Pit Straight. Being the fourth and final day of the event, I only had one chance to get the piece-by-piece shots right - it wasn't as if I could go back the next day to reshoot if the experiment didn't turn out right...

Although the shots I took turned out reasonably usable for stitching together, there still were problems that I could keep in mind for next time:

  1. Try and get your alignments right
    It sounds obvious but is harder than it sounds. These shots were all taken handheld (ie. without a tripod) so minor differences in angle/tilt between shots, plus the ever-shifting rotation axis of the camera didn't help make things easy when aligning them in Fireworks.
  2. Make sure the landscape is consistent
    Not necessarily just regarding movement of objects (cars, people, etc.) in the shots, but things like the exposure levels on the camera. The biggest problem I had with this experiment was the inconsistency of shadows/highlights between pictures.
    The effect is most noticeable on the track itself - you can see the colour hues partially shift and lighten in the big flat areas of the panorama. This was caused by the camera adjusting to the brightness of each shot as the framing got closer to the primary light source, the sun. This my least favourite aspect of how the panorama turned out, and it's something I'll try to avoid next time so the blending becomes much easier.
  3. Be extra prepared
    If I ever try something like this ever again, I would try and get at least two passes (or 'sweeps') over the intended panorama landscape, just in case it comes in handy later when compositing. Having a second (or third) reference shot for each section of the panorama might come in handy if it turns out your originals weren't sharp enough or if objects are moving around in frame.
    In the Pit Straight panorama above, there were a few examples where some larger objects were moving and partially captured in multiple shots, yet weren't suitable to be stitched properly. This required some inventive work on my part to patch up.
    See if you can spot them... :)
    Also note the silhouette of a guy's hat in the lower-right of the panorama - this might have been avoided if I had multiple shots to choose from when arranging the composite...