Flying Sandhill Crane Panorama

As we were walking the trails at Lake Woodruff NWR we saw these Sandhill Cranes flying by. I wanted to get the whole group in one image. I was using a 300mm lens, so I shot 5 images in a quick series to combine into one Sandhill Crane flying panorama. I could not let Photoshop align and blend the panorama because of the movement of the wings confused Photoshop auto alignment of images. I used a series of soft masks to blend the images manually in the panorama and spaced them by the spaces between the Cranes.Sandhill_Cranes_flight_v1_MG_9542

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.

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Sandhill Crane Panoramas From Lake Woodruff NWR

On our trip to Lake Woodruff NWR in DeLand Florida we were hoping to see Sandhill Cranes. They did not disappoint us. The only problem was it was a spur of the moment trip so I traveled light and only chose the lenses I thought would be best. I did not want to load up the car with too many lenses to carry once we got there. So for long lenses I brought a 300mm with a close focusing capability and a Tamron 150-600mm zoom for versatility along with teleconverters. Usually the Sandhill Cranes are in large flocks or off in the distance. The first walk in to the trails, 2 Sandhills landed right by us within a couple of feet. They stuck with us for quite a while giving me the opportunity to get a lot of portraits. But to get the whole Sandhill Crane in, I resorted to shooting panoramas of them. All panos were shot handheld and assembled in Photoshop. The featured image is only 2 vertical images blended because the Crane was a little further away from me at this point.

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Sandhill Crane, 2 Vertical Image Panorama, 300mm lens

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7 horizontal images, handheld panorama, 300mm lens

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Sandhill Crane,  2 Vertical Image Panorama, 300mm lens

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Sandhill Crane Panorama, 7 Horizontal Images, 300mm

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