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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Detroit Shock, 2008 WNBA Champs !

I've been playing Basket-Ball for more than 10 years now, and I've always loved watching NBA games on TV, well... whenever I could, given the lack of NBA exposure in France back then. It got better, and thanx to the internet, I've been able to follow the NBA very thoroughly lately, watching games regularly, daily recaps, and multiple games a day when playoff comes.

Since the WNBA started back in 1997, I had not heard much about it, let alone watched it. I did watch some Olympic Women Basket-Ball games though, and I remember being very impressed by the level of play, and unselfishness showcased during the 1996 Olympic Finals in Atlanta, between the USA and Brazil. Then I watched some more at the Olympics the next years, a couple WNBA games on TV, and also attended the Open LFB event in Paris the last 3 years (every team playing their first regular season game over the weekend in the same arena).

But this year, for the first time, I tried to really stay up to date with the WNBA season, in large part because of Candace Parker, the rookie sensation of the Los Angeles Sparks (who ended up being Rookie Of The Year and MVP of the league in his first year, by the way), and I'm very pleased I did so. I managed to watch a few regular season and playoffs games, then watched the whole Finals. It was amazing. Of course you won't get all the highlights, the athleticism and the trash talking you're used to in Men's Basket-Ball, but these women definitely know how to play ! Katie Smith, the Finals MVP, was phenomenal, Deanna Nolan impressed me with her athleticism and hustle, and Becky Hammond almost did a "McGrady" in Game 2, scoring 3 straight 3-pointers in less than a minute in the 4th quarter to try to bring her team back in the game, even though Detroit eventually hang on... The final result of the series, Detroit winning it in 3 games, does not do justice to the way the games where played, and I know I'll be back next year to watch the Shock try to repeat, see how Candace Parker does in her second season and if the likes of Becky Hammon or Diana Taurasi can lead their team to the top. Congratulations ladies and thanks for the emotions !

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Daiba / Tokyo Bay (Panoramics)

I got a few more panoramics that I did some time ago to put up... Here are two of them shot in Tokyo when I had the chance to go visit a friend there, back in 2005. We spent 3 weeks mostly in Tokyo, at his place, except for a few days in Kyoto, and went on for a few day trips away from Tokyo with the Shinkansen (the japanese high speed train). Took a bunch of pictures, some of them worth a look, so I'll probably post them someday.

The first one is a view of Daiba, with the Rainbow Bridge that connects it to Tokyo on the right. Daiba, a man made island built in the Tokyo Bay, is like a mini seaside resort, with beaches, bars and restaurants, a shopping center, a big ferris wheel and the huge convention center building. We only spent a day there, skating and walking around but it seemed like it would definitely be a nice place to hang out.

The second one is a 180° (or so) view of the Tokyo Bay, shot from that same bridge but on the other side... We decided to walk back from Daiba to Tokyo (it's only a 30 minutes walk) and the view is beautiful. On the left of the picture, you can spot the Tokyo Tower, which is a replica of Paris' Eiffel Tower, only a few meters taller !

Quality on both of those pictures is pretty disappointing, but that's what setting a 2003 camera (a coolpix 4300 to be exact) to 400iso will do for you :(. Concerning the panoramics, I'm too lazy to go get the .psd file and tell you for sure, but it's probably like 5 or 6 pictures stitched together with Hugin, with all the masks and the blending edited on photoshop. I guess that's a good thing I can't really tell from the panoramic how much pictures I used ;)
Just like the previous post, I can't wait to go back there with my new DSLR to take better pictures !

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Georgia Dome, Atlanta (Panoramic)

Finally, my first meaningful post ! Guess what ? I couldn't find the time to look for that particular picture I was referring to earlier, but I had some other files on my computer, so let's put those up first !

If I remember correctly, this is the first ever panoramic image I did. It was shot at the Georgia Dome, during the Rams vs. Falcons NFL Game, in September of 2004, and it consists of 5 pictures. Back then I didn't know much about photography, let alone panoramic images, so I used my friend's all-automatic, 3-MP (yeah... 3-MP!! remember it was shot in 2004) point and shoot camera, without a tripod, without locking exposure or anything. Given the circumstances, I think the result is OK but I had to start all over with the stitching 3 times, first trying to use the software bundled with the camera (forget about it), then trying to do it all in photoshop (I gave up pretty quickly :p), before I finally found out about Hugin, an open-source GUI for Panorama tools... Thank god ! I stitched with Hugin, then exported to psd with masks, and then I had to redo all the masks because that's the one area where hugin and other tools can't be trusted (even with still images, there are issues to address, so forget about pictures with moving people and objects).

This was my first try, so I'm pretty happy about how it turned out, but I definitely need to go back and shoot some more, now that I have a decent DSLR to work with (more on that later) and a little bit more experience !
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