MW Panoramas: Optimizing time for foreground images

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
EricTheAstroJunkie Contributing Member • Posts: 963
Re: MW Panoramas: Optimizing time for foreground images

indigoshrine wrote:

Well, it was actually you who gave me the idea to try it out But then again you were probably only refering to a corner case, not to adapting it on a regular basis as standard workflow. Anyway, I agree that the gain is not worth the time spent so I will cease using it and rather rely on post processing again.

I've always thought that you should try to avoid any kind of positioning change of the camera when switching between foreground and sky. As sky is tracked and foreground is not tracked, the most 'position-loyal' way is to complete all sky panels first, then switch off the tracker and just tilt the angle down to start the foreground row. Using a click-based panorama plate, this will have the horizons of foreground and sky already be aligned without even a need to check visually. Contrary, when switching from foreground to sky, a new polar alignment might be needed which will reposition the camera angle.

Now, this might have been a misconception on my side - over the past year I've also realized with all the projections, moving, transformations, warping etc. in post, there is never perfect alignment anyway but foreground and sky can still easily be fit together even if the initial match is very rough.
I'm all in for flexibility, but up to this point was just too concerned about introducing possible problems and 'unrealistic' matching (sky shot from a slightly different angle) in the subsequent editing process

So am I overthinking this and you can actually be more liberal, swapping between sky and foreground, tracker on/off, potentially even an additional polar alignment inbetween - all steps which would slightly alter the angle/position but be negligible for the final blend?

At present I need to compromise as I want to master the 85mm FL although the shooting locations accessible to me are not optimal (close-by objects in the foreground). I totally agree with you though that this should not be the endgame - and generally such long FL are best avoided if the DoF problems are that imminent.
Thanks for pointing out the limits of hyperfocal distance. I guess for now I will try focus stacking at wide aperture, with one step at infinity and maybe 2-3 more steps to cover the close by objects and see how well that works.

If you were doing a pano with a 24mm lens and only needing 4-7 shots, sure, go ahead and use in-camera NR, it won't add THAT much more time. If you are doing a pano with an 85mm lens where you're going to be taking 25+ shots, absolutely not. A complex pano with an 85mm lens will realistically take you 2+ hours for both the sky and foreground, adding in in-camera noise reduction will double that time and not offer that much in terms of final image quality. Skip it.

You should try to avoid positional changing, but you have to be able to be flexible with your imaging time. Like I said, if you plan a complex shot and have a limited window of imaging you must be able to efficiently use that time, especially if you live in an area with unpredictable weather and/or your specific composition has viewing constraints. If you find that it's cloudy and you don't have enough time to accomplish foreground shots after the core rises then you need to be able to adjust and get your foreground done while clouds are blocking the sky, then if it clears you can get your sky done as quickly as possible before returning to the foreground. The foreground isn't going anywhere, it's a static subject so who cares about positioning in that regard, everything revolves around getting the sky done in a concise series of exposures so as to limit the sky variability from exposure to exposure.

Unless you are really fat handing (ie, really aggressive with your handling of the camera on your mount) the setup while imaging you're probably not going to throw off your polar alignment while imaging. I teach people "soft hands", once you have your setup all together and you've done a solid polar alignment then you should be soft with your adjustments from frame to frame. Practice at home, even during the daylight, setup your gear and learn what kind of fine manipulations you can make without torqueing on the setup too hard. With an indexing rotator you shouldn't really need to do much other than gently rotate the camera to the next click. So in that sense you shouldn't have to constantly re-polar align the mount, even when switching between sky and foreground.

When it comes to positioning I'm not talking about moving the tripod, the tripod is always static, you are either tracking or not tracking to acquire your frames. So the order of your image acquisition, sky or foreground first, won't impact the alignment as long as you acquire all your sky shots consecutively. If you start acquiring sky shots, then switch to foreground, then switch back to sky.....that's when you'll have alignment problems because the sky will have shifted some number of degrees. ALWAYS ALWAYS complete your sky shots consecutively and as quickly as possible. The foreground can be acquired at any time, before, after and even split as long as the light illumination is even.

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