Shooting panoramas — special considerations
Since Photoshop and other digital editing software made stitching photos easy, we’ve all had a few tries at making panoramas. We’d probably all make more, but showing them off on web pages does not work too well. They are great for large prints—I have a few around the house.
Some new DSLRs and SLT cameras (like Sony’s A77) have built-in, multi-shot pano capabilities. Once set properly, the camera is panned across the scene to be photographed, the camera takes many shots and then stitches them in the camera. My experience so far is that this is a great feature and will make decent pano prints up to perhaps 36 inches. But for high-end prints, I think the the manual method is superior, i.e. take several separate photos and stitch them later.
Last winter, my wife and I renovated our kitchen and dining area that involved the removal for eight of my framed wildlife photos. The wall has been blank for several months and I am commissioned to take more photos for the wall. I could easily have done that a long time ago, but I don’t want a bunch of framed prints. So I have a plan to take a wonderful (?
) panorama shot of the Livingstone (mountain) Range that is 25 km west of our summer place—about 130 km from our home. I thought I knew exactly where this photo had to be taken—I’d been there before and actually taken a fast multi-shot pano for a demonstration. Last week, I drove to the base of the long range and took a lot of photos. However, after looking at them I realized, the panos I made will not do for the soon-to-be-famous 6-foot print.
There is too much distortion because I was too close to the mountain range. The ends of the range were way too narrow and the range (that is relatively level on top) was arched. Not good.
A few weeks ago, I posted a pano shot and made the jokeful comment, “...taken with the popular pano lens, the 70400G.” Here
A long lens for a pano? Well as it turns out, using a longer lens (longer focal length) for multi-shot panoramas makes a lot of sense under some conditions. You can get farther away from the wide scene and there will be less distortion on the edges of the scene.
The diagram and composite photo below try to explain what I mean. The “wall” is just to demonstrate the distortion effect. Consider your shooting position, distance and focal length when taking panoramic scenes.
Oh, BTW, the top photo is just a sample—the final panorama to be printed has not even been taken yet. I will work on it soon. ☺