Photo: Sunlight creeps into a foggy redwood forest, Redwood National Park, Del Norte County, California
In my last post, I asked readers to help me decide which of two Redwood panorama photos were better. And the winner is, by a 2:1 margin, the second photo. Sixteen people favored the first photo, while thirty three favored the second photo. It was really fun to see the amount of people willing to share their thoughts, opinions, and preferences. Three people abstained, unable to express a preference. For myself, I (of course) like both, but if I had to pick, I’d also go with the second, simply because I feel the grounded nature of the image allows the viewer to more easily (visually) walk into the scene.
My favorite shot from that morning is the one above, along with a horizontal variation. I was helping another photographer whose passion was panoramas. He had all the right equipment. I don’t. He was super-methodical. I’m not. He’d take a long time to set up, while his girlfriend displayed great patience. However, the amount of time he was taking to set up was causing him to lose many shots because the special light which had attracted his eye had faded or changed into something not so nice.
My suggestion for him was, when you come across a great scene with nice light, but where the light is changing quickly, don’t worry about the panorama shot first. Rather, grab a shot of the overall scene in a single frame. That way, at least you’ll have something in the bag. Then, if the light is cooperating, take the time to get your panorama. In my opinion, if you’re traveling any distance, it’s better to come home with six shots that you got as a result of “just shoot the scene first”, than it is to head home with a dozen missed shots because the best light vanished while you were setting up all the equipment needed to take a perfectly executed panorama.
My two panoramas where shot with no special equipment whatsoever, simply eyeballing the level, tipping the camera on it’s side, and shooting wide. I then adjust for camera and nodal distortion in lightroom, and by using the transform controls in photoshop, and finally cropping in from the rough edges produced in the Photoshop Merge operation. Granted it only took me 30 seconds to shoot the panoramas, but it does take 30 minutes to do the correction after the fact. Since I don’t shoot many panoramas, I can live with that. But if I do start taking them more seriously, a good pano head will save you lots of post-op time by getting it right in the field.
The shot above was exactly what I was encouraging him to try; a quick single frame grab of a scene with special, fleeting light.
Image ID#: 110527a_DLN-0125
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