Kirribilli & Milson’s Point

I wanted to do a night shoot and try my hand at doing night panoramas, night HDR and some long exposure shots of anything spinning with coloured lights, e.g. Ferris wheel at night. The only Ferris wheel I know of is at Luna Park, Milson’s Point. As luck would have it, just as we setup for the shot, the Ferris wheel stopped rotating and closed for the night.


I took 3 exposures for this HDR (-1, 0, +1). I then tone mapped with Photomatix Pro. The water did not come out very well, there was some noise in the shadow areas. I selected an exposure that had the best reflections and brightest colours in the water. I imported into CS4 as a layer, added a mask and with a very soft brush with an opacity of around 50%, carefully painted out the bits of the water that  did not look good.  



Selective colouring, I exported it from LR 2.5 to CS4 and duplicated it. I converted top layer image to BW and I applied a mask to it. Using my Wacom tablet I set the opacity set to about 50%, selected a big soft brush. I then slowly painted out just the puddle of water to reveal the colours of the bottom layer.


This one was taken from Milson’s Point adjacent to Luna Park’s Ferris wheel. This is actually 2 exposures blended together. The 2 towers of the Luna Park entrance were badly blown out when I used matrix metering.  I selected 2 exposures and exported them to CS4 as layers. I applied a mask and painted out the sky and water on the top layer to reveal the colours from the layer beneath.



Lastly, I did a 180³ night panorama. I decided that the best spot to create the panorama was from Kirribilli which will includes the Sydney Opera House, the city skyline and Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was a real shame that some of the lights on the bridge were not working. This panorama consisted of 8 individual shots taken in portrait mode, stitched together with CS4 and tweaked in LR 2.










Acratech Levelling Base

The main reason I bought this was to do panoramas. I was sick of spending up to 10 minutes trying to get the tripod level for each pano shot. Now it just takes literally takes less than 10 seconds to get both my tripod base and my ballhead dead level.

The built quality is excellent, nice anodised finish and best of all only weighs about 250g. I really love the huge round spirit level as it makes it so easy to get the tripod level accurately and quickly.

Check out the large round spirit level

The large knob makes it so easy to loosen and tighten the levelling base. It also has a nice rubberised coating on it.

Love the large rubberised knob

Another view of the levelling base, as you can see the workmanship and finish is of a high standard.

Excellent build quality and finish

I have used it for a couple of weeks now and I am very happy with it. It is no longer a chore to take multiple pano shots as the levelling base makes it so easy to move around. With a level tripod it get rids of the staircase effect giving you more of the photo with little or no cropping required and perfect seamless stitching.

I can highly recommend the Acratech levelling base to anyone. At $150 USD I reckon it is money well spent.


Here are some of the panos from my testing of the Acratech levelling base.

Sydney Opera House - This 180° HDR Panorama consist of 7 separate shots in portrait mode. Each shot contains 3 exposures (-1, 0 +1), tripod, tone mapped using Photomatix Pro, stitched together in CS4 and tweaked in LR 2.0

View of Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House - This 180° HDR panorama consists of 7 separate shots in portrait mode. Each shot contains 3 different exposures (-1, 0 +1), tripod, tone mapped using Photomatix Pro and stitched together using CS4 and tweaked in LR 2.0

Campbells Cove, Sydney, Australia - This 360° Panorama consists of 15 separate shots in portrait mode and stitched together using CS4 and tweaked in LR 2.0

Here is my pano setup - The Acratech Levelling base attached to my Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead with a Really Right Stuff nodal rail.

Go here for more info on the Acratech levelling base.