For those of you who appreciated our last vertical panorama, (click HERE) …here’s another!

The Photo


How We Shot It

The Equipment and Settings

The Shooting Conditions

Achieving an image such as this may be relatively easy these days, with incredibly sharp ultra-wide lenses and extremely high-resolution DSLRs at our disposal.  However in 2005 when I created this image, Nikon didn’t even offer full-frame DSLRs, and ultra-wide lenses were few and far between.  So, I made-do with what I had at the time, and composed a vertical panorama from horizontal image frames.  I had shot the scene many times before, however this time the clouds aligned with the swirling water and created a fascinating leading line through almost the entire composition. Here are a few tips for composing and capturing vertical panoramas!  If you’re on a budget and want to capture extremely wide angle, high-resolution images with your ordinary lens and camera, stitching panoramic images can be very useful.

  • Be careful how you adjust your tripod.
    If at all possible, use a tripod configuration that allows you to pan in one sweeping motion, instead of having to re-adjust a ballhead from scratch each time.  You could use an L-bracket on your camera, or even a panoramic bracket that allows you to rotate your camera over the lens’ nodal point.  Either way, you need to be able to pan your camera from facing nearly straight downward to straight upward, which is difficult to achieve.
  • Compose lots of overlap!
    Especially for the above reason, you want to give yourself a lot of overlap .  I like to overlap my panorama frames by as much as 50%!
  • Pick your exposure carefully, bracket if necessary.
    Once you have decided on your composition, take your brightest highlight into account and then determine whether or not preserving that highlight is possible without other parts of your scene going completely black.  It may be necessary to create HDR frames.
  • Pick your focus carefully; bracket if necessary.
    Bracketing focus while panning is very difficult to manage in post-production, so avoid it if you can.  You’ll want to pick your aperture and focus distance very, very carefully to try and maximize your depth of field.  If necessary, re-focus for a very close foreground and then manually blend it together in Photoshop.
  • Rotate Original Images Before Using Photomerge.
    Photoshop doesn’t seem to like vertical panoramas very much.  If you’re having trouble getting your original images to merge smoothly, rotate them and let Photoshop do it that way, then just rotate the final panorama back.
  • When converting to B&W, be aware of different tonalities that may require separate conversions.
    While often times you can simply convert the image once in Bridge or Lightroom and be done with it, if your colors vary dramatically throughout the scene then you may wish to perform B&W conversions separately and then blend them together in Photoshop.

The Post-Processing

As we have mentioned before, the pre-shooting technique is 99% of the battle and post-production is largely done by automation, especially the merging of the panorama.  However to view a tutorial on blending two separate bracketed exposures click HERE, and to view a tutorial on how we would merge a panorama please click HERE.  To view our previous tutorial on vertical panoramas, click HERE.

Here is the final color image and then the final B&W image:



Take care, and happy clicking,
=Matthew Saville=

 Learn HDR Photography

For more HDR and HDR Panorama education, be sure to check out HDR Tutorial by SLR Lounge. This comprehensive “gold standard” guide will give you a mastery of HDR photography, from the scene considerations to the actual shooting to the post production. Click here for more info.