Hudson Valley Panorama Part II (SX50)

Started Oct 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
VisionLight
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Re: Taking better panoramas
In reply to Monicakm, Oct 27, 2013

Monicakm wrote:

VisionLight wrote:

Thanks for the kind words Evan.

Setting up for the position is fairly easy because it's in front of a boulder (that I don't expect will be moving any time soon.) I also brought a printed copy of the first pano for reference. The hardest part was getting the motorized zoom lens as close as possible to the same focal length. Turns out summer was shot at 5.1mm and autumn at 5.9mm. I wish the camera LCD review included focal length data. Then it was just slowly swing around adjusting the tripod slightly for horizon and adjusting exposure to balance the light as I went. I ended up with a 2/3 stop shift along the way. For best results in both panos, I made sure the full bridge was centered in one image and the full "island" was centered in another. As a wide angle fan, I love doing all this.

Ed

OK, so you didn't use the HQ Burst method that was shown here during the summer. I'm uber impressed!

As is often the case Monica, the best output comes from the best input. Stitching programs do a pretty good job of figuring out the photographers intent for the multiple images in a scene, but then may have to do strange manipulations to produce the final panorama. When using the burst method there is no control that the horizon will stay exactly on the same plane, or that important elements will not each be held together in a single frame, or that the perspective will not be skewed as the camera's level changes up or down while moving. The wider the angle of incidence, the more these imperfections multiply as well. The program then has to resize each image and transform vertical and horizontal perspectives, leaving large hills and valleys across the field edges that loose a lot of the image. The remaining usable horizontal area then needs to be magnified, losing clarity and detail.

In my method for 180° panoramas, I always try to place myself right in the middle of the field. I then pick a focal length that gives a good equal rendition of both the left and right ends FIRST, then of the middle. And I set up to do about 20°-30° more than my intended image. I adjust the focal length up or down slightly to even out any perspective difficulties between the three points. The tripod is also set at this time so that as it is swung around, the horizon stays at exactly the same plane for all three points. If this is not possible, I take note of how many degrees on the tripod are in the shift so that I can adjust the tripod at a point or two along the way while shooting. Then I choose how many segments I need to keep important elements intact in a single image. This may mean that a 7 image panorama may have 5 equal divisions, but two intermediary ones in between as well to totally cover those elements. The images in the OP were done this way. I will also adjust the exposure along the way, as the sun will usually have differing strengths along a 180° horizon.

Once these images are loaded into a stitching program there is only minimal edge hills and valleys, giving a lot of detail. The most adjustment needed will be at the far edges, but here's where the extra 20°-30° comes in handy to be cropped out.

And Voila! Panoramas like in the OP above.

I hope you find this helpful. It takes a bit of effort, but I think it's worth the trouble.

Ed

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