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.

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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

Walk In The Woods #4 & 5

Some more from my Walk In The Woods multi-image detail stacked photos. The featured image is 3 images shot with a 300mm f/4 lens. Again because of how dark it was in the Woods I had to raise my ISO for these to 3200 for #4 & 6400 for #5 to get a fast enough shutter speed for handholding the camera with that focal length. Images aligned and blended in Photoshop, then cropped to where I liked it. Even opening the Canon Raw files in Photoshop’s Camera Raw software and reducing the noise from the high ISO, I still had more noise in my images than I wanted, so I then used NIK Define to reduce the noise even more. #5 is also 3 images shot with 300mm @ f/4 but more of a horizontal focus stack. I guess it is more of a challenge to get what I want this way, but it is fun to try.


Dried Weathered Leaf  –  #5


Painted Skimmer Dragonfly

Since we moved, going from Northern NJ to Central NJ, I have to learn the specific names of some of my favorite subjects to photograph, Dragonflies & Damselflies. We are seeing quite a few different types here, we just have to learn the names. Also Males and Females are usually quite different in coloring & markings, so sometimes it is difficult.

We went to Plainsboro Preserve, a 1000 acre Audubon Nature Preserve, looking for Dragons & Damsels and we found quite a few. Most were sitting on the path, warming on the warm gravel & stones. Unfortunately that made for very busy backgrounds. The one below cooperated by sitting on a small branch, giving me a nicer background. I was using a 300mm f/4 lens and was shooting at f/4 to help keep the background softer looking. I sacrificed depth of field for a cleaner looking background. So I tried to shoot fairly straight in to my subject on the first. And a slight angle on the second.

Painted Skimmer Dragonfly v2 PP 5_17_MG_7988Painted Skimmer Dragonfly v2 PP 5 17_MG_7958





Longwood Gardens Tulip Display

We had gone to Longwood Gardens for their massive Tulip display. There were over 240,000 Tulips in displays around the gardens. We went on the peak weekend and there were plenty of flowers to photograph. I was trying to travel light in the morning so decided to use a close focusing 300mm lens for smoother backgrounds instead of one of macro lenses.

Here are a few from the start of my walk through the Gardens. Some of the close-ups are 2 or 3 Image stacks, shot at f/4, handheld, for more detail of individual flowers but keeping a softer background. The featured image is a 3 image stack, handheld.

Untitled1Tulip 3 sht stk

3 image stack, handheld

Tulip CU nik v3_43G9207

2 image stack, handheld

Tulips LW v1_43G9218

Tulips LW 4 17 v1 2 sht stk v2

3 image stack, f/5.6 handheld

tulips LW 4 17 blnd 3 sht_nik 43G9226Tulips LW v4_43G9229Tulips LW 9img pano v1tulip v1 LW_43G9247Tulips LW v1_43G9254

Tulips stk LW v2 4img stk

4 image stack, handheld

64 Image Stacked Panorama

While I was photographing some of the Tulips at Longwood Gardens, Kathy asked me to photograph this wall area that kind of looked like a still life image. The problem was I was using a Canon 300mm f/4 lens. I like using this lens for flowers because it has extremely close focus for a 300mm lens and I do not need extension tubes, plus shooting wide open, or even f/5.6, I get cleaner looking soft backgrounds behind the main subject. I was traveling light concentrating on closeups of flowers and my other gear was in the car. So, up for the challenge, I decided to try an image stack. The problem was it was very crowded because it was the peak weekend for the tulips, so people were everywhere. I had to get close to avoid the people which increased the number of shots I needed. I did not know how many I had until I went to assemble it in Photoshop. I shot 64 shots, handheld, trying to overlap images in a series of rows. I did an overall adjustment in camera raw and then loaded all the images in a layered Photoshop file. Than I did an auto align and then merge which took over 2 hours to process. I was surprised how good it came out, just requiring minor touch up here and there. The final file in layers is about 3 gigs and when flattened is 85 inches x 75 inches at 300ppi.

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