Panoramas Are Not Just For Landscapes

BWR Moonrise_1170507 6Sometimes when I am walking around with just one camera with one lens, I come upon an image that is too wide for the lens I have with me. Or I see an image that is perfect for a panorama, but I invision a longer thin crop without a lot of extra image that detracts from what I want. I also do not want to crop my panorama from my regular file because I want a large image, either for a double page spread or maybe a large print, and want to hold the detail with all the added pixels. Most often I make panoramas with my 300 or 400mm telephoto, 24-105mm or one of my macro lenses for a macro panorama. I have not had great success with my 12-24mm zoom. Usually for simple panos I shoot 2 or 3 images for combining, but have gone up to 60 for very long or a series of multi-exposures for different rows of stacked panos for one image. I use Photoshop to render my panoramas and after practice you can get predictable results most of the time.

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Opening in the Clouds Panorama

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Great Egret Panorama

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Cloud Reflections In Water Panorama

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Thunderhead Cloud Panorama

American White Pelican Panorama

Another Group of American White Pelicans photographed along the Wildlife Drive at the J.N. Ding Darling NWR in Sanibel Florida. This was a 5 image panorama, handheld, shot with a 300mm f/4 lens, with a 1.4X teleconverter. When doing a pano like this, do not use auto exposure, especially with white subjects, because the exposures can vary, giving you different exposures which are harder to blend together. You then have to try to balance all the exposures before assembling the pano. Most people use a tripod for doing Panos, but I tend to do more handheld. The Pelicans are still moving, even slightly, so I still have to go in to the layered Photoshop file and erase some of the moving overlaps before the final “blending. The auto features usually works fairly well for the final “flattening” of the layers in your file. The hardest part is choosing which “mode” of auto align to use in Photoshop for the initial lining up of the layers. You might have to try a few of the choices and see which one works best for your subjects. It has a lot to do on the angle you are to your subject and also the focal length of the lens you are using. In Photoshop, under EDIT, go to auto-align. Then you have a few choices. It is a trial and error to see which method works best for your image. Auto align usually works fairly well, but sometimes “Cylindrical” works well for what I shoot also. It really depends on the focal length of the lens you are using and the angle you are to your subjects. Then go to Auto Blend to “blend” them together. The other choice here is “Stack” which is used for ¬†combing a set of images you shot for more depth of field, for a sharper image across a wider area, in simple terms. Under Auto Blend also check on the Box – content aware fill transparent areas of your merged files. This fills in empty areas with what Photoshop thinks is missing, and works fairly well. This happens more with wider angle lenses because of the changing angle of horizons, skies and foregrounds have different perspectives as you are shooting from left to right. This comes in handy especially if you are hand holding your camera or shooting with a wide angle lens. Also Once you flatten your image, I sometimes crop from the top and bottom to make a better “composed” image. Sometimes shooting panos, you are shooting “Taller or Wider” than you want your final image. So cropping in helps the composition. The above is just a simple overview of shooting panoramas, you can find lots of info online.

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