Foraging Sandhill Crane Panorama

I am still working on images from our trip to Lake Woodruff NWR in Deland Florida. But I thought it might be interesting to show how I am working on hand-held multi-image stacked panoramas of moving Sandhill Cranes or other moving subjects. This panorama of a foraging Sandhill Crane is made from 5 handheld images, assembled & aligned manually in Photoshop. Sometimes Photoshop does a good job aligning them automatically, but for handheld I tend to align the layers manually. Then edges are blended with soft edge masks in different layers to blend images to fit. On moving subjects you need to shoot more images than you normally use so you have a choice of areas to blend in for the final since the Crane is moving. Blank areas are  filled in with the content-aware fill feature in Photoshop. Images were taken with a 300mm f/4 lens. Final image is 22″ x 26″ @300ppi. Once you do a few you get a better idea of sections you need to photograph and how much overlap you need. For the Cranes I concentrated on photographing the head, neck & legs for one main area and then a couple more shots for the bulk of the body. I let Photoshop align & combine the head and leg images, then the bulk of the body. After that I aligned those 2 main sections for combining into the basic full image. There were some blank areas in the background edges, so I used Photoshop’s “Content Aware Fill” to fill in the main blank areas. When first starting it is best to shoot more images than you need. This gives you more options for the panorama. It is better to have too many images than not enough. After practice you will see that you get a “feel” for how many images you need. On a moving “subject” I concentrate on leg areas and then head & body areas. On this example it is more legs & head, then body areas since the head was angled down.

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 3.24.55 PM

Screen grab above showing area to be filled in using content aware fill.                        Below are images that made up the final Panorama. The first 3 are for the head & feet, the last 2 are for the bulk of the body and top background area.

pano setup_MG_7774-2

6 Comments on “Foraging Sandhill Crane Panorama

  1. I was wondering about your technique for these. Content aware does a nice job but does need refinements. I often see the repeated patterns such as those in the lower areas, especially the left side, and try to use various other sources with either the healing brush or clone to make them more varied. It’s a cool way to do panoramas. I don’t think I would have thought to try it with a moving subject.

    • It works fairly well! When I am doing them for a print or something important I usually manually clone in areas for a better look. If it important I shoot many more frames and use smaller areas for the “filling” in!

  2. I love seeing the magic behind the curtains, Reed. In this case, it was really beneficial to see the actual images you shot before you stacked them to gain a better understanding of how much you overlap.

    • Thanks Mike! With practice it works well! In the beginning you can shoot more images in case you need them. Generally it works quite well! Photoshop does most of the work. Then you can go in and touch up here & there if needed. Lately I like traveling light so I use this technique quite often. I used to carry 3 cameras, but getting older I am traveling much lighter now! Makes it more enjoyable to not have the weight! This post was just to explain the way I use this technique. Usually I would shoot more images and have a few more to pick from. Especially for the edges.

    • Thanks again! Most of the time the technique works out! I used to use this technique a lot in my Commercial Photography work. So it was easy to transfer it to my personal work.

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