Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Minneopa Falls (and gigapan?)

Minneopa State Park - Minnesota DNR
Last summer, I was able to acquire a GigaPan EPIC 100.  My primary goal was/is to take as many gigapixel panoramas featuring the geology of the state of Minnesota and other places as possible.  The long-term goal is to use these images in my Earth Science classroom, giving students opportunities to visit places virtually that they have not visited physically.

After learning the system and getting a total of four completed gigapans, Minnesota's winter set in, meaning individuals tend to be more housebound than normal.  There are numerous travel plans around the region this spring, summer and fall, the GigaPan EPIC will be in tow.

A week ago, my kids and I visited Minneopa State Park the day after a 5+ inch snowfall looking for a morning outside and even a little practice imaging as well.  The temperature was between 20-25 degrees and the trails were covered in the fresh snow.  We were heading to the highlight of the park, Minneopa Falls.

Lower Minneopa Falls
Minneopa Creek flows over the Cambrian-aged Jordan Sandstone, because of differential cementation within areas of the sandstone, two waterfalls are formed.  The upper falls consist of a six or seven foot drop before the creek continues to flow another seventy feet to the lower falls.  The creek falls 39 feet at the lower falls.  Minneopa Creek flows into the Minnesota river nearby.  The falls were formed as Glacial River Warren catastrophically discharged from Glacial Lake Agassiz approximately 9,700 years before present.  A knickpoint was formed and the waterfall has migrated upstream approximately 0.75 miles since then.


GigaPan EPIC 100 
I was only planning on taking the one gigapan, so I brought two sets of batteries for the day (thinking that this would be more than enough).  The first two times the panorama was setup and pictures were being taken, I noticed that the camera was missing about every other picture.  Turns out that the button pusher was not pushing far enough down -- I had not correctly aligned it while wearing the heavy gloves.  Finally, on the third try everything was working well and the system was ready to take 218 images.  Two-thirds of the way through, the batteries were dying (good thing I brought the extra pair) so they were replaced, it was then that I noticed the focus was off.  I now have a gigapan that consists of most of the image off focus, but the far right side looking completely fantastic.  I did not upload it to the gigapan website.

My three kids and Minneopa Falls
Turns out my focus was off a little, I was trying to get the image and keep track of my three kids (ages 6, 4, and 2).  Simple mistakes were made, but at least I was able to get some still pictures and the waterfall will still be there for a later time.