I’m currently on vacation on the island of Maui. Each time I come to the Islands I hope to get a chance to shoot the Milky Way from atop Haleakala, weather and moon permitting. Well once again, it hasn’t worked out because I’m here during a full moon phase. I decided to make the best […]
Archive for July, 2009
Certain places just beg to be reproduced panoramically. You just can’t do some scenes justice with a normal single frame photograph. I’ve always been interested in panoramas, something about them mesmerizes me. I guess it makes me feel like I’m experiencing the scene like I did when I was there.
There are a number of methods for taking the shots and probably just as many more methods of stitching the photos together.
You can take panoramas handheld, with a level tripod or with a special tripod head designed specifically for panorama photography. Nodal Ninja and Really Right Stuff both make panorama heads and I’m sure there are numerous others. These can be expensive, as with most camera equipment, but produce superb results. The advantage is the camera can be set up perfectly level and the nodal point, optical center of the lens, can be set. The Really Right Stuff site has a good explanation (http://reallyrightstuff.com/pano/05.html). Currently, I take my panoramas with a tripod and a hot shoe bubble level, it seems to work fairly well, but I will eventually purchase one of the panorama heads.
I’ve used several panorama stitching software applications including PTGui and Photoshop. My favorite is a free program developed by Microsoft Research named Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor). You can download the program at he Microsoft Research site (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ICE/). I recently used this program to stitch together a handheld panorama of Lake Powell down in Arizona. The panorama was a total of 6 photos, 2 rows of 3. I took the pictures fairly quickly as we were about to head back into town. I didn’t really think it would turn out as well as it did. As a test of ICE I renamed each photo and opened them out of order just to see if the program could figure out which photo went where. A couple of minutes of processing later and out came a perfect panorama.
You can see a larger version here.
Until next time!