HDR Panorama Of Louisville and the Ohio River

Sunset On the City and River
Sunset On Louisville and the Ohio River

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Last night there was a snow storm moving into Louisville around midnight. As is usual when weather fronts come in around sunset the sky was amazingly colorful. I went down to Louisville Waterfront Park to shoot from the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge hoping that the clouds would hang around until the sun was below the horizon. I was in luck and after sunset the clouds were still over the city skyline though they were drifting southwest.

This HDR Panorama was created from four three frame bracket sets of +2, 0 and -2 EV exposures that were first merged in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 using the Balanced preset with the Detail slider set to Accentuated and the Drama slider set to Deep. After they were merged as HDR images the resulting four frames were merged into a panorama using Photoshop CS5. After completing the panorama merger I took the image into Aperture 3 where I straightened the horizon and cropped the image. In Aperture I also made adjustments to Contrast, Recovery, Sharpening and Color Channels

10 thoughts on “HDR Panorama Of Louisville and the Ohio River

  1. Beautiful, and thanks for your detailed “recipe” for the HDR pano. I’ll assume you used a tripod for this one! Are you using an L-bracket or a special pano accessory? It is truly amazing how many different and interesting shots you have gotten of this area. You certainly know how to “work it”!

    1. Thanks for your kind comment about “working it” Liz. I love to shoot from the Big Four Bridge which means I’m always on the hunt for a “new” vantage point. After several years shooting there it is sometimes hard to find anything I haven’t used at some time.

      As for your question about my gear I didn’t use a tripod for this particular panorama. I prefer to shoot hand held if I have enough light and it was still reasonably bright when I shot this scene. I shot the bracket sets in Aperture Priority at f11 in Portrait orientation. I like to adjust my horizon as I move from left to right in order to have a better shaped image when Photoshop stitches them together. I read somewhere that when shooting panos handheld that it was a good idea to rotate you body and move your feet when shooting rather than simply rotating your torso. I think it helps with the nodal point when you do shift your stance but I’m not certain about that.

      I use NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to merge my bracket set and have found over time that the Alignment and Anti-ghosting settings compensate very well for the variance that is inherent in handheld HDR photos.

      After that rather long winded answer I should say that when I go out shooting I always bring my tripod. I use it when the available light makes it impossible to shoot hand held. I have found that simply rotating the camera around the tripod center creates a very distorted stitched image that usually requires a lot of cropping for the final pano. I have acquired a Nodal Ninja pano head recently and plan to start using it soon to see if I like it. I’m certain it will produce better frames and allow better stitching than either of my present methods.

      Thanks again for asking questions; I really want these images to spark dialog and help other photographers learn and explore HDR photography.

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