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(December 17-21, 2004)

Francis Fougere

Oakville Harbour

Are Flågan

Downtown Ice Skating

Oslo, Norway


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© 2004 Are Flågan, All Rights Reserved.

This panorama is from a downtown ice-skating rink. It's not quite Rockefeller Center standard, but, hey, it's free and open to the public at all hours, at least those with BYO skates. In the summer months, the oval outline of the track frames a reflection pool and water fountain. The metal structure in the middle is not an encounter of the third kind, as one may suspect. It hides the summer sprinklers and doubles around Yuletide as a speaker tower for Feliz Navidad, a classic for all polyglot Santas, on a frustratingly short loop. Whoever designed this questionable centerpiece probably had the artificial sun from some sci-fi venture in mind when topping off the creation with a dome, softly reflecting the spotlights onto our dark winter solstice in a practical bid for aesthetic redemption.

Oslo is in many ways a unique capital city. Huge tracts of wilderness, known collectively as "Marka", surround it. In fact, the city limit is effectively drawn negatively by what we call "Markagrensen", meaning the border to these areas, and Oslo as a city thus defines itself equally by the many forests and lakes that surround it. Over the years, "Markagrensen" has remained the contested front line in battles between urban developers, salivating on the prime real estate of the loftier hills, and those that seek to preserve these surrounding sanctuaries. Due, perhaps, to the immense popularity of outdoor pursuits like hiking, biking, skiing and skating in "Marka", the politicians and zoning authorities have not dared to declare a mission creep across this frontier, despite strong economic incentives to do so.

A free public ice-skating rink, situated right in the middle of downtown Oslo, serves as a reminder of the happy reversals whereby one develops and finds sanctuary in the midst of a hectic urban life.

Europe / Norway

Lat: 59° 33' 36" N
Long: 10° 24' 36" E

Elevation: 10 m

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: Unknown / Undeclared.

Nikon D70 and Sigma 8mm. Stitched with PTMac 2.1. Cube conversion with CubicConverter 2.0.5.
Behind the scene : how this panorama was made
No great mysteries behind this panorama shoot. The technical challenges resided in the mixed color balances and extended range of exposure values in the scene. The first was resolved in an acceptable way (7000 degrees Kelvin was a decent compromise and starting point) while the latter resulted in a glaring blob of overexposure that was so far off the chart that little could be done to remedy this eyesore. A stop of HDR merger in this spot of light barely improved on the burnt-out edges. Without people moving in and across the images, the potential for a proper fix would have been greater, of course. Exposure was ½, resulting in some blur behind the fastest skaters and sharper outlines around the spectators.

The evening of the solstice was one of the colder ones we have had so far this year. Apart from the passing pain of handling those all-metal parts on the equipment in sub-zero temperatures, shooting panos in winter climates is not actually that bad, or different. The most crucial thing to remember in winter arises after it's all in the box, so to speak, and you get back to peruse the parts of the whole before the stitch. Taking a very cold camera out of the bag at room temperature will result in so much condensation over time that you may as well have buried it in the snow and waited for spring to dry it off. Damage can be lasting, both to circuitry and optics. The best practical advice is to pocket the CF card before going inside and just leave the camera in the bag for hours and hours until you are absolutely certain that it has adjusted completely to room temperature. This will be just after your fingers have thawed.

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