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(June 16–21, 2005)

Boštjan Burger

Water - Creator of the Karst

Thomas J Bunce

California Aqueduct

Palmdale, California, USA

Tuesday, June 21, 2005, 8:05 PM PDT (June 22, 2005, 3:05 AM UTC)

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© 2005 Thomas J Bunce, All Rights Reserved.

The California Aqueduct at sunset. One of several life-lines for the greater Los Angeles area. From the Sierra Mountains to the north and following the San Andreas Fault line through the Antelope Valley, the aqueduct enables millions of people to survive in what would otherwise be far too arid an environment.

The San Andreas Fault Line created the San Gabriel Mountain range to the south and south-east, which runs mostly east to west here. On the full screen version, the last of the winter snow is barely visible on the highest peaks about 40-50 miles away. One of the small foothills formed by the fault blocks your view of the actual fault line, which is about a mile away. Over millions of years softer parts of the mountains have taken on a rounded and channeled appearance by the infrequent but sometimes heavy rains. The lack of vegetation causes huge amounts of sediments to be carried down the hills. Some local communities had streets eroded away and a foot or more of sand and silt pile up in the roads during record spring rains in 2005. Even in the desert, water has a significant impact on the terrain.
The Tehachapi Mountain Range 25 miles to the north is barely visible through the water vapor haze from all the sprinkler fed lawns and desert dust blown around by the fairly common 20-30 mph winds. I don't care much for the dust in the air, but it sure does make for a pretty sunset almost every day.
Rosamond Dry Lake Bed, Edwards Dry Lake Bed, Edwards Air Force Base and NASA Dryden 30 miles to the north-east are usually visible, but today are lost in the haze. Rosamond Lake still has water in it, but evaporation helped along by the winds and recent 100 degF temperatures will take care of that before too long.
Palmdale's Air Force Plant 42 is to the east. Look for the large, low white buildings in the middle distance belonging to Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works and Boeing (formerly Rockwell). The Space Shuttles were assembled here and flight tested at Dryden in the 1970's.

I've been up here several times with my dog Jack to get a good panoramic view of the Antelope Valley in the Mojave Desert. Last March I just happened to take a panoramic picture on the Spring Equinox when the valley was green from record setting spring rains. Two days later I realized it could apply to the Marketplace theme but didn't get it stitched in time for the World Wide Panorama. Imagine the golden grasses as green to see what you missed. Or go to my web page to see for yourself.

How is this a marketplace? The City of Palmdale in the foreground is one of the fastest growing cities in the US. Local aerospace jobs and the need for "affordable" housing in Los Angeles County, despite being 40-60 miles from the LA area, has caused Palmdale and neighbor to the north, Lancaster, to grow from 68,842 and 97,291 in 1990 to 131,300 and 129,200 in 2004 and are projected to reach 146,145 and 141,495 people in 2009. New subdivisions have waiting lines to purchase homes. Several thousand more homes are to be built just south of this view over the next several years with a resultant increase in demand for more water from wells, reservoirs, and the aqueduct. Local reservoirs were mostly refilled by all the rain after being in danger of running dry by several years of lower than normal rainfall.

USA-Canada / USA-California

Lat: 34° 36' 16.56" N
Long: 119° 12' 52.44" W

Elevation: 2800 Ft (855 Meters)

→ maps.google.com [EXT]

Precision is: Unknown / Undeclared.

Canon PowerShot S230, PTMac 3.0 v52, enblend, Photoshop Elements 2.0, MakeCubic, Homemade Panoramic Tripod Head, PowerMac G5 Dual 2.0 GHz.
Lessons learned from my first real panorama
  • Get there early if you are trying to catch some time critical event. It takes time to climb steep hills, set up the equipment, and level everything. I got lucky with my first round of pictures being pretty much perfect where I thought it might be better after the sun had set.
  • If the ground is sunlit and looks good, get that set of pictures before the next round in the sky. I missed getting some of the grasses with the really nice red glow by doing a second round of the sunset.
  • A pano head really saves a lot of time in the stitching process. Make one like I did if you can't afford to buy one. The pictures line up so much better.
  • At first I thought I took too many pictures at 20 deg separation with my 50 deg camera field of view. Because PTMac doesn't yet do vignette reduction it turns out the extra frames really helped with the blending.
  • Keep on taking pictures and stitching. It takes a bit of skill to get a really good set of pictures to line up, and blend well, but it gets better each time fairly quickly.
  • Don't wait too long to get an account and set up your own web space. Things take time...
  • Photoshop Elements layer mode of Lighten really works well to blend the images together by hand without having to use masks and erasers. Very fast and good results. Save the eraser for the images with movement that you want to get rid of or enhance.
  • Don't use the crop function in PTMac 3.0 v52 or earlier. It messes up the field of view and angle settings resulting in 80-100 pixel errors. Once I reset all the cropped images, my pixel error went to a maximum of 4, average less than 1 for three to five control points per image pair. 18 rows x 5 columns of images.
  • When shopping for a digital camera find one that lets you set the shutter and aperature for all the shots. Color blending is so much easier if you don't have to do it yourself. My camera will hold the settings if I don't fully let up on the shutter release button, but it's tricky and I didn't get the same settings for the sky.
  • This is really a lot of fun! Try it!

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