I really like shooting panoramas. I’m President of the Louisville Photographic Society which has been in existence since 1941. One of the reasons for the club’s longevity is that each month there is a member competition which fosters a level of commitment to continual improvement by the members. Each year the board meets and decides on the categories for each year’s competition. We try to evenly split the categories between camera skills and subject matter so that our members learn new skills or explore areas that they may have never tried before.
For me the competition category of Panoramas was one of those areas that I hadn’t pursued until challenged by the club competition. I started studying how to shoot them and in so doing I fell in love with the process.
For the shots in this post I shot 5 frames at approximately 30 degrees apart. I also shot 5 frames at each position so that I could produce HDR frames before merging them in Photoshop CS5. I liked the process so much that it has become second nature to me when I see a scene that would benefit from being shot in panorama.
Though both of these final panoramas were shot on the same evening they have completely different overall feels. I shot the top one just after the sun had slipped below the horizon which captured the warmth and fantastic color of sunset. When composing this shot I wanted to get as many of the Ohio River bridges in the frame as possible.
The second image was taken a few minutes later after the sky had begun to cool down and the sun was much further below the horizon which made for a much cooler overall feel to the scene. I use a free iPhone app “Darkness” which tells me when sunset occurs as well as when dusk occurs. Since using this app I’ve learned that there is nearly a full hour after sunset when there is still enough light in the sky to produce good images.
It goes without saying that I use a tripod since I’m shooting HDR as well as Panorama but another key factor in getting these images to work is that I shoot at a low ISO. On my Nikon D90; ISO 200 is the setting I use. I always shoot in RAW because the amount of data in the image is so much larger than is possible with Jpeg.
My processing for these images was to merge them in Photoshop CS5 and save them as TIFF files. After that I took them into NIK HDR Efex Pro for Tone Mapping etc. Then they went back to Aperture 3 for final sharpening and output.