May Your New Year Be Merry and Bright...
Here's hoping that your 2013 is both healthy and prosperous!
Explore #137 - Thank you everyone for your kind words!
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Taken at Pritzker Pavilion - Chicago, IL
This photo was made by taking the center section from this image. Here is the process I followed.
I prefer to shoot with a small aperture - F14 or so works well. I normally choose a lower ISO like 200 or 400 but you can use whatever you are comfortable with. Higher ISOs will introduce more noise, but will reduce the amount of shutter speed you need.
Set your camera on Manual or aperture priority and start with ISO 200 or 400. In Manual you will have to use your light meter to judge the shutter speed. In aperture priority you will have to use your exposure compensation to make the HDR images.
Helpful hint - you will be working a long time if you shoot at ISO 100 at night. 30 second shutter speeds don't sound bad once or twice, but if your shooting 21 of them that is a long time to make one picture.
Making the picture
1) Layout the final panorama in your mind first. How wide of a space are you planning on shooting? If you are shooting a scene that is wider than it is tall, then use a portrait orientation for each individual source image. If it's taller than it is wide, then you should shoot in landscape orientation. Regardless of what you decide to use, you can not mix landscape and portrait source images in the final panorama. You should always use a tripod, and always make a few practice passes to ensure your camera will not cut off any portions of the scene as you are traversing the camera left to right (or up and down).
2) Once you have your plan, it's time to start shooting. I normally work from left to right. This makes it easier to edit the pictures later. You will need to make 3 to 5 images 1 stop apart to create the HDR effect. If you are a Canon shooter, each click of the wheel is 1/3 of a stop. So three clicks gives you 1 full stop. Don't adjust your aperture, always adjust your shutter speed.
3) Panning the camera. After you have your first set of source images, it's time to move your camera to the next section. A good rule of thumb is to overlap 1/3 of the frame from one section to the next. If your camera has the "rule of thirds" lines in live view or in the view finder, this will help you line everything up. Be sure to keep everything level. Also be sure you are giving yourself enough room around the objects you want in the final frame.
4) Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Keep repeating this until you have worked your way across the frame. The "smaller" the bites you take in each section, the less distortion you will have to contend with in photoshop. I like to shoot most panoramas around 50mm or 60mm, but I use a crop sensor.
5) Off to Photomatix or HDR Efx. Once you have all of your images, you need to edit each section into one (1) HDR image. When you are done with this step, you should have 5 or 6 or even 8 or 9 HDR images that fill in the entire panorama when put together. Be sure to save your settings during the first edit so you can apply it to the rest of the images. This will ensure a consistent look when you're done.
6) Import to Photoshop. The last step is saving them all as JPEGs and importing them using "automate" in photoshop. I normally just use the "automatic" panorama option, and since I'm not a photoshop expert I can't really comment on the differences in all of the photo merging options in CS4 and CS5. Maybe someone else can comment on this?
The computer will put all the images together. All you have to do is flatten the layers, crop as needed and start editing like a normal picture. Putting a border on the image can add a nice effect, but it's your image so do what you like.
That's about it. I might be missing some things, if so I apologize.
Some other helpful hints:
- Use a remote shutter release and a tripod
- Be sure to manually focus your camera once and then turn your autofocus AND your image stabilization off. This will ensure that you have a sharp image throughout the panorama.
- Go with a friend
- Try something ambitious or new
- Have fun and share it on Flickr. It's supposed to be fun, right?
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