Here’s the 11th day of the 12 Rigs of Christmas! You’ll see rigs of companies still here, and others that have come and gone. Some have changed names and colours. People have come and gone. But you know what? Our industry is still keeping our trucks fueled and our people warm. Please share these posts – you might be in them, or recognize others who are.

When I shot Red Dog 4, it was positively gleaming. This was the rig’s very first hole, and you could eat off the floor of the doghouse. Do you know where Flying G is, along Highway 13, west of Kisbey? Well, east of their yard there’s a curve in the highway with a hill on the north side. They sometimes plant sunflowers there. Anyhow, up on the top of that hill is where this rig drilled its first hole. A little to the east of that was an abandoned yard which had a spectacular tree, which you’ll see below. It was another gorgeous day in the patch.

On this rig I perfected the ability to shoot high resolution 360 degree panoramas. Sure, now you can spin in a circle with your iPhone and get a pretty decent panorama. It was not so easy in 2013. In addition to my fancy Nikon camera, I had to buy a $200 camera L-bracket, $200 nodal rail and a $500 tripod head on top of my $700 tripod in order to do it. You had to precisely measure, to the millimetre, the focal length on the lens you planned on using, then adjust and measure the nodal rail using two light stands in the garage to get rid of parallax. What’s that? Use your hand like a gun and pretend to shoot someone. Close your left eye. Then close your right eye. See your thumb shift? That’s parallax. And that’s what’s required all that specialized hardware, to spin the camera in a perfect circle around its nodal point.

On top of that, in late 2012 I purpose-built a new desktop computer with as much horsepower as I could possibly afford just to process these photos. It wasn’t a matter of just measuring parallax and spinning the camera. For each panorama, I took three different exposures every 15 degrees spinning around, and overlapped that by an additional 180 degree to make sure I had enough overlap. For each level of exposture this would result in about 36 photos of 12 megapixels each that were then merged in Photoshop to create one seamless image. The file sizes were so large that they bumped the absolute limits of what Photoshop would process. It took so much computing horsepower that my previous computer, which was pretty decent, would just die. It would chew on that for 20 minutes, choke, and die. Thus, I had to build a new computer – and that is still the main computer I use to this day.

THAT is what it took to make a panorama back then. Now, you just spin around with your iphone in a circle.

The aerial shots were done near Lampman in 2017.

One more thing – the panorama taken on the centre of the drill floor – I made it into a canvas and it’s hanging in my parents’ basement kitchen.

And a video slideshow:

 

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