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 […]
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!
At a recent photography workshop I attended in Northern Arizona, I learned something I hadn’t really paid much attention to in the past, Hyperfocal distance.
LeRoy DeJolie, our workshop instructor and amazing photographer, showed us a simple way of dealing with Hyperfocal Distance without whipping out a range finder, tape measure, or just plain trying to guess. I’m not a hyperfocal distance expert, but I basically think of it as a point where everything in the image is in focus (maximum depth of field). This is important in landscape photography because it is common to have something in the foreground (rock, plant, tree branch, etc.) and of course the main subject of your photo which may be an extended distance from the foreground object. It’s really great to have everything in focus rather than the foreground or background slightly out of focus.
DOF is determined by the focal length of the lens and aperture. For landscape photography, if you want everything in focus in your image, you typically use a wider angle lens and a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number). I normally try to use f11 or f16, this gives me sharp images without diffraction which would cause the image to appear not so sharp.
If I came across this situation in the past, I would try to focus on something about a third of the way into my composition. This actually works fairly well, but not perfect. The little trick that LeRoy taught us was to set the camera to manual focus, focus on the far subject, then adjust the focus so the near subject is perfectly in focus and then split the difference. This has worked very very well for me and I used this method in the following image taken near Page, Arizona.Hoodoo near Page, Arizona.
Take care! – Jim
I did find an interesting old school bus on the way out. I surmised I could do something a little extreme with some HDR processing and subsequent processing with Nik Color Efex, one of my favorite Photoshop add-ons. I usually try to keep my photos natural looking, but I thought this subject deserved something more to bring out the detail.