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Thread: Panorama Technique

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    Panorama Technique

    I'd call myself an advanced beginner in terms of shooting panoramas and I'd like to improve my technique in this area. My current workflow goes something like this:

    Set up the tripod and level the panning clamp. I use one of the RRS pano kits. Secure the camera to the pano head and eyeball it so that the center of the lens is over the rotation point of the tripod (my quickie technique to determine the nodal point/exit pupil of the lens).

    Look thru the finder and get a rough idea of the FOV and how many degrees I can rotate my pano head between shots. Typically I'll select an overlap of approximately 20%.

    Set the exposure mode to manual, meter the scene, take a test shot and check the histo. Adjust as necessary. Typically with MF I'll shoot these at f/11 or smaller depending on the lens' aperture range (thinking... max DOF but avoid diffraction here).

    Focus manually on a distant point, take the first shot, rotate the pano head the number of degrees I determined above, continue the row.

    If I'm shooting multi-row aim the camera upward allowing for approximately the same overlap selected earlier and continue shooting. If I'm looking to make a 360 degree pano I'll do the same thing with the camera pointing straight upwards and straight downwards.

    In post I'll load up the images and convert to either 8 bit tiff or jpg with an eye on keeping the final file size manageable. If it's a one row pano I'll use Photoshop's photomerge. I'm also trying out some specialty software like PT Gui and AutoPano Pro. Process the images... look at the final garbled result asking me to manually find control points and wonder why I bother with this

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Let's see some examples!
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    David,

    The only step that you may be including, but did not mention, is to lock down the WB, this can most easily be done by selecting a KELVIN TEMP or by using a setting like "sunlight". You did not mention if you were using polarizing filters, but if you can avoid them it is a good idea, but if you cannot the stitching software is pretty good at blending the sky exposure differences that the polarizing filter will create.

    Love to see some of your work.

    Jerry

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Give me a bit to figure out how to link from the gallery...

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    (With a bit of Admin help):


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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Looking pretty good David! Note the missed crop in the upper left, but that's an easy fix. ow about a small portion of the building or bridge at 100% for a detail shot?
    Jack
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Hey, I need all the help I can get For the record I tried to follow these steps as posted in one of the LF forum threads by Jack.

    1) Upload your image to the gallery, any size, only limit is 2MB
    2) Forum software will upload the full image, and at the same time create a max 900x1200 version.
    3) In your gallery you will have a thumb and the 900x1200.
    3a) If you click on the 900x1200 image, you will get to the full size image you uploaded.
    4) At each of these images is a bb-code link string underneath.
    5) Copy this link
    6) In your thread, use the embed image icon, the one up top that is a mountain with a sun in it
    7) Insert the copied string in the dialog box, and presto, you are done.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Here's a crop from one of the frames. Had to go back and reprocess this as a full sized tiff. As mentioned above I typically will process these as smaller jpegs so as not to choke my computer with a 1.5 GB file. As I'm looking at the crop it really is amazing how much detail you can get from these MF backs. I shot this with the Contax 645 on the Sinar e75LV back with Zeiss 45-90 f/4.5 zoom
    Last edited by David K; 9th August 2008 at 12:42.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    David:

    On the original upload, the only thing you did wrong was you selected the URL from your browser, and not the one right under the image -- that's the url string you need to insert with the little image upload icon

    The crop above is impressive!!!
    Jack
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    timely thread for me; today i climbed 50 feet down into a dry dock, about 5 ' below the props, with a 40mm, such a cool spot with this giant ship looming next to me...I felt cramped. set up the horseman and did a series of 9 shots using h and v shifts. haven't had the time to process, but it will be interesting to see if there is nasty color shift in the extremes. will post something later

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    I never tire of seeing those boatyard images Jim, I'm looking forward to them.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Just a few notes;

    1. keeping a levelled horizon or horizontal lines is important for the final compositions.
    2. Try to leave an overlap of at least 25%
    3. You should not fear changing exposures between frames as most softwares will handle blending quite well, but do it on the shutter speed rather than aperture.
    4. Photomerge handles raw file so you can save a couple of steps and stay in 16bit until the final conversion.


    Enjoy

    Yair
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Problem is that keeping the pano level is only possible if you are shooting with the camera totally level. If however you are shooting in the real world where you are tilting the camera up or down for composition then as you pan to the side your camera will no longer be level. The simplest way to get around this is to move the camera up or down a bit and 'fill in' the pano at the edges. This will be more necessary the more you pan to the side.

    I'm using Autopano Pro and am losing suprisingly little off the edges due to the camera not being level eventhough I only use planar (rectilinear) stitching. It processes my 16 bit Tiffs developed from the RAW files and I can specify both horizontal and vertical detail that needs to be straight, far faster than messing around with the vanishing point and easier than using PS's perspective tool, I'm able to specify lines that need to be straight even if they weren't in real life and it looks natural in the final image!

    I've got a thread in the 'Images to share' section of the forum using stitching on architecture/cityscapes. Most of them were taken using multiple shutter speeds to hold the DR and almost all were taken using careful refocusing between shots.
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    shot with horseman and h and v shifts, with rodagon 35mm, this took about 15 minutes from 9 raw images, processed to 9 jpgs, photmerged to one jpg for the web.

    composed center image with ground glass adapter, shifted around to check max envelope, put on the CFV back, and shifted and shot away

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Yair,
    Thanks for your input, it's kind of where I hope this thread goes... suggestions and comments about the difficulties involved in doing this sort of thing correctly. Keeping the horizon level when shooting the first (or only) row isn't that difficult... leveling the tripod head should take care of that. But in the pano I posted that didn't result in a good composition because the top of the building is too close to the top of the frame. To get more sky I would have either had to shoot with a wider lens (selection of the best focal length is one of the things I'd like to get some advice on) or add a second row above. The wider the lens the more distortion that needs to be handled in post and, if shooting a second row, with the camera tilted upwards you run into the issue Ben mentions. Your point about changing exposures between frames is something that I thought you were NOT supposed to do, but clearly I was wrong on this (confirmed by Ben) and this will be very helpful going forward. I attempted a 360 degree pano from the top of an observing platform recently and should have adjusted the exposure to compensate for the shadow area created by the clouds in some frames. Good to know that Photomerge handles RAW but unless it's only a handful of images my dual 2.8 Quad Core with 10 GB of Ram can't handle it, at least not in any time frame I'm willing to wait.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Ben,
    I find your comments quite helpful. I've been playing with the Autopano Pro demo (Jack suggested it to me) and it sounds great on paper. It crashed on me once or twice and that sort of lessened my enthusiasm a bit but I'll give it another go. According to the Autopano pro folks you can refocus and even zoom in between shots the latter being a concept I can't quite understand.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Jim,
    That's the sort of result I'm hoping to get but without resorting to yet another camera. I'm hoping to get close to that with my Rollei PCS when it gets back from service. Nice work here and a beautiful image.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    David, how did it crash? When rendering a large file to anything but jpg it does take a very long time relatively (1/2 hr) and looks like it's crashed but check your Task Manager Processes (if you're using windows), it's there and working and using up resources. I've heard PTGUI is faster but don't know if it's as resource hungry. Kett the 'working' window of Autopano Pro on 'normal priority', It's the best if you are working on your computer at the same time.

    Autopano Pro seems to like it if the file names are in the left to right order, I shoot middle, right, left and it seems to confuse it. A good trick if the program can't line up is to enter the control points editor, enter the Optimization Settings and change the RMS error setting to '2' then click on 'Optimize The Panorama'. Solves every alignment problem I've ever had, especially when it looks really confused.

    Another trick which will maximise the amount of image used is to make sure that you enter the EXIF info should your images not have any - or turn off the 'adjust Lens Distortion'. The program is trying to adjust lens distortion and if it doesn't know what lens on what sensor size it gets confused and uses up too much of the image in its correction. Both these settings are in the first window under the box 'groups'.

    Maybe sounds all a bit over complicated but these are the tricks I use when problems turn up which isn't often. In the Edit window the 'Verticals' and 'crop' tools are your biggest friends. If you draw the verticals/horizontals in then the program does all the vanishing point/yaw/pitch/roll nonsense for you to correct everything perspective and keystoning wise without fiddling with numbers and guesswork.

    The tutorials on the site are pretty good to start with, with the above tips there shouldn't be much anything that can go wrong. I played with the program for 6 months before buying it, I do like it a lot.
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    p.s. if you want screen shots of any of the above let me know.

    BTW, re: your questions, you don't need to shoot a full 2nd row, just nearer the edges. Personally I just shoot a bit wider and crop knowing that all the important stuff is safe, it's also useful for perspective adjustments, heck I've got loads of megapixels to work with!

    As far as focusing and zooming are concerned, the program makes lens distortion adjustments so it can use images with a different zoom, as long as you haven't moved the perspective is the same technically. I refocus as I move up or down, especially useful because I use longer lenses close up and need to hold the foreground sharpness. The trick is to make sure that the maximum in every frame is in focus so the program is matching focus to focus between the frames. If you have areas in a frame OOF then crop out that section in the file before sending for stitch and let the program use a more in focus file for that element of the photograph.

    This picture is a great example. Shot with a 70mm lens and with the foreground about 1/2 meter away from the tripod. Obviously it would be impossible to get the whole image in focus even stopped down with that focal length (needed to maintain perspective), I shot from the bottom up in tiny slices of sharp image all the way up the path then when I reached the stone on the left hand side, focused on it and shot the rest at f22. Worked a treat and an image I believe impossible to achieve in any other way has made me that pleased with myself!

    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 10th August 2008 at 08:13.
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    Jim,
    That's the sort of result I'm hoping to get but without resorting to yet another camera. I'm hoping to get close to that with my Rollei PCS when it gets back from service. Nice work here and a beautiful image.
    David

    I have both Autopano Pro and PT Gui and like both. I have had a few more difficulties with AutoPano though than with PT Gui. However both can create very nice Pano's. I wonder which software is used by Arne Hvaring? He has posted some really great panos on these threads.

    Woody

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Ben,
    Great tips and very much appreciated. I'll try to digest them as I play with the demo some more. I haven't been shooting middle frame first... I can see where that will resolve some of the issues I've run into. As far as being resource hungry both programs are memory hogs and use almost all of my 10 GB of RAM. Can't remember specifically what brought on the crash but I did check it in task manager at the time. I have found though that crashed programs (showing red in Task Manager) sometimes "uncrash" by themselves if given some time. Maybe that's what happened here and I didn't give it enough time.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    David

    I have both Autopano Pro and PT Gui and like both. I have had a few more difficulties with AutoPano though than with PT Gui. However both can create very nice Pano's. I wonder which software is used by Arne Hvaring? He has posted some really great panos on these threads.

    Woody
    Is there any good reason to have both... seems to me it's an either or thing. Unless you had one, tried the other and found it better (or thought so at the time) I don't see the need for both. From what I've read from experienced pano shooters (mostly on LL) they seem to wind up with PT Gui. I've watched my friend Andre spend a lot of time lining up control points with PT Gui and still have problems where certain of the frames don't really have any. For example, Andre was shooting a 360 pano of his studio and the frames with the white cyc wall didn't line up automatically and, for all intents and purposes there are no control points on a white wall. Same thing if you run into an expanse of sky that's got no clouds in it. These would be easy as pie to fix in post by cloning IF you could get the program to render the pano.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    David, the trick is to make sure the files are in number order right to left or top to bottom. That's why I ran into some problems. Having images mixed around seems to confuse the program. Wasn't I have 3 gig of ram and Autopano will use up over 2 gig when rendering. Given that CS3 has the rights to 2 gig as well, running PS or bridge makes my system panic but I've never had a crash.
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Ben,
    If you're shooting multiple panos, i.e. different scenes do you put them in different folders or just let Autopano Pro find them on it's own and do it's thing.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Different folders. I'm sure that Autopano can find pano's but a) I need to organise them for myself and b) I often shoot pano's as the light changes and there are more than one 'set', I want the program to work with what I choose not with what it thinks is best! BTW you can select only specific images as opposed to a whole folder, it's the icon next to the one with a folder on it.

    I think the reasons most experienced shooters use PT is because for a long time it really was the only game in town, lot of people paid for it and know it inside out. It is faster and seems to be fooled less often by default than Autopano but I like the interface better myself on Autopano and I know it pretty damn well.

    I have PTGUI on my computer and it had a fit trying to line up this image below, said I had to add control points. Some of the images were pretty cropped because I was refocusing and PT really didn't like it. Autopano got it perfect once I'd set the RMS to 2.

    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 10th August 2008 at 09:13.
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Ben, I'd like to know how you decide what focal length to use on a given pano. Take the image above for example. If I were shooting that one with MF and wanted to get that look I'd probably shoot with my normal 80mm lens stopped down to around f/11.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Perspective. I'm looking for a 50mm perseptive when shooting this stuff, keeps the near/far relationship as I want it. When you shoot a pano however you are getting a wider FOV by definition. As such to achieve the same perspective I need to use between 70-100mm. To be honest 70mm is too wide, in my test shots the wall on the left was more predominant. I zoomed back a bit because I was hurting for DOF.
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    Senior Member yaya's Avatar
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    There's always the rough and dirty way....

    Handheld, AFi-7 with 80mm AFD and WLF, 7 horizontals with loads of overlap, about 24,000 pixel wide:



    Photomerge straight from the raws, all set to "auto"

    Yair
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Your new wide chip is going to be great for pano shooters, with that much resolution and the wider ratio you will only need a few frames to get incredible pano's. Not that any casual pano shooter can afford it but such is life!
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Yair and Ben,
    The advantages of shooting with normal perspective lenses are starting to make more sense to me now. My original thinking was that a wider lens, offering an expanded FOV, would make pano's easier but I'm feeling now that quite the opposite is true. Need to go reshoot some panos with the MF kit and 80mm lens. Agree with you, Ben, about Leaf's wider chip, a boon for pano shooting.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Different folders. I'm sure that Autopano can find pano's . . .
    I have PTGUI on my computer and it had a fit trying to line up this image below, said I had to add control points. Some of the images were pretty cropped because I was refocusing and PT really didn't like it. Autopano got it perfect once I'd set the RMS to 2.
    I use both PTGui and Autopano. PTGui seems to do a better job when there are archiitectural features that cross multiple frames and require proper perspective, etc. Autopano seems to be better at working out control points - it often works where PTGui doesn't. For many images I try both to see which I prefer. By the way the stitching feature in Photoshop PS3 also works very well, although it's somewhat less flexible than the stand-alone packages.

    Autopano is more flexible hand held. I many cases I just make a lot of overlapping exposures handheld with a longish lens. Autopano handles these even if overlaps, and numbers of images in rows, are inconsistent.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    RE: "focus manually on a distant point"

    Given your style of shooting, if you are looking to maximize DOF without causing diffraction then it's probably worth your time to mark your lenses for hyperfocal at your desired f-stop.

    Select your desired f-stop, point towards infinity, and slowly draw focus back until infinity loses any sharpness at all, then back off towards infinity just a hair (to allow for mistakes in the field and variation in temperature). Doing this while tethered to a large monitor of course is the fastest, but regardless of method, judge each image at 100% with only pre-sharpening. Mark this focus point (or just make a mental note); also of use would be to then note what the closest "acceptable" focus is at that focus point. I do this with all of the range-finder tech cameras we have in stock so when I go out to play with them I know what I don't have to worry about focusing.

    That way there is one less variable to mess up when capturing multiple images. Nothing worse than shooting 20 images and coming back to find something awry.

    For anyone in the Miami area: we are having the 2nd in a 3-part seminar on image combination this coming month. The last topic was on depth of field stacking. The upcoming topic is on... drum role please... panoramic stitching.

    P.S. http://dofmaster.com/dofjs.html has a great calculator, but I rarely find that more useful for determining hyperfocal at a particular always-used-f-stop than just shooting and seeing when infinity looses sharpness.

    Doug Peterson
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Good tips guys, they are appreciated.

    Doug,
    Do you have a date for the seminar... if not, drop me a line when you do.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    Is there any good reason to have both... seems to me it's an either or thing. Unless you had one, tried the other and found it better (or thought so at the time) I don't see the need for both. From what I've read from experienced pano shooters (mostly on LL) they seem to wind up with PT Gui. I've watched my friend Andre spend a lot of time lining up control points with PT Gui and still have problems where certain of the frames don't really have any. For example, Andre was shooting a 360 pano of his studio and the frames with the white cyc wall didn't line up automatically and, for all intents and purposes there are no control points on a white wall. Same thing if you run into an expanse of sky that's got no clouds in it. These would be easy as pie to fix in post by cloning IF you could get the program to render the pano.
    David

    You are absolutely correct...........there is no need for both. I had PT Gui and trialled Autopano and seemed to get better results. So I bought it. Now I am not so sure that this was true. I think it may just have been the particular images I was stitching that made the software seem different. So on further reflection I would recommend you try both and choose the one you feel is best for you

    Woody

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Going though some older images shot late last year.

    Seven shot panorama with the Mamiya 28mm lens. I shoot manual left to right overlapping at least 30 to 40%. This was shot 1/400 at F.8 using photomerge directly from CS3 then cropping the excess unwanted stuff. "Native" image turns out at 8506 by 5855 pixels. I used RRS pano gear.....



    Sorry if its too large - I thought I had dumbed it down enough.

    don
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    Senior Member yaya's Avatar
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Absolutely stunning Don!
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by yaya View Post
    Absolutely stunning Don!
    Thank you very much. Coming from someone like you it means a heck of alot!

    don
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Wow Don... just spectacular. I've got the RRS pano gear and CS3 but my images don't look like this

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    Wow Don... just spectacular. I've got the RRS pano gear and CS3 but my images don't look like this
    In all fairness David, you need to keep in mind Don IS shooting a Mamiya...


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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    In all fairness David, you need to keep in mind Don IS shooting a Mamiya...


    I knew it had to be the gear...

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    FAct is that this is simply one of those almost perfect confluences of lighting, composition, equipment (least important IMHO) and most importantly the eyes of the photographer.

    Congratulations Don. Most of us just hope we get one image in our lifetime of this caliber. WOW

    Woody Spedden

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Thanks to all for the kinds words. I had gone to the So Rim last December for two reasons; I had a client that wanted an image or two, and I wanted to try out the new Mamiya 28mm lens. I spent three days shooting in incredible weather; snow, sleet, fog, clouds in other words perfect weather for a landscape photographer. Ive also said the worse the weather the better the images. Anyway I had just returned to this spot from being over at Desert View and decided to see if it had cleared any from a couple hours ago. I parked my truck and decided to walk up to the overlook not 50 yrds away (without any gear) when I got there I could just kick myself because the clouds were just clearing. This shot was taken just after running back to the truck getting my gear and going back and setting up. I remember a young man coming by just as I finished setting up stopping and looking out at the view he said while it was beautiful it also look fake then he shook his head and kept walking.

    I plan on returning this December for a couple days then heading over to Death Valley. Anyway, pure dumb luck on my part as well as having just about as good equipment as I could ever ask for. Mamiya AFDII with P30+ and the really great 28mm lens.

    Thats my story and Im sticking to it.

    don
    edited:
    Id like to add that when taking images for a panorama once you find what works for you stick with it. Just remember to have the tripod and the camera as level as you can. In addition to that I always work in manual mode picking what I believe will be the best f/stop and shutter speed, and no filters. In most cases if I have any doubt at all Ill shoot it twice using different settings. It also helps to get the lens as close to the nodal point as you can which for me in most cases is just guess work and luck. I use photomerge off bridge and do all my work in CS3. This works for me no matter what lens I use (Ive shot panoramas with a 300)
    Last edited by Don Libby; 12th August 2008 at 16:21. Reason: added information
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    Senior Member KeithL's Avatar
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    "Going though some older images shot late last year.

    Seven shot panorama with the Mamiya 28mm lens. I shoot manual left to right overlapping at least 30 to 40%. This was shot 1/400 at F.8 using photomerge directly from CS3 then cropping the excess unwanted stuff. "Native" image turns out at 8506 by 5855 pixels. I used RRS pano gear....."


    William Blake eat your heart out!

    Superb image Don.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    That's a superb image! Love the atmosphere in it, I agree that bad weather usually means a great landscape.
    I have loads of panoramas and all are hand held, white balance set as daylight or whatever, meter for highlights in manual and shoot away! I have autopano pro and cs3 but never really use autopano, photomerge does such a good job for me.
    This is 9 shots with just a canon 20d hand held, put together in photomerge.


    Cheers.
    Mat

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    This is an old one from summer 2004 when we took the bike for a 4000 miles trip around the Alps.

    Contax, 80mm, Valeo 22 handheld from the top of the Mont Blanc (4,300m). I don't have access to the originals but I think it was 4-5 horizontals and at the time I was using RealViz Stitcher:



    Note that you can really see the earth's curvature....
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Yair,
    Some critique... That's from Aiguille du Midi, right? Not exactly the top of Mont Blanc.
    Lars
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    i've been out on that ridge, camped in the valley just on the other side, climbed Mt. Blanc du Tacul from there.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Yair,
    Some critique... That's from Aiguille du Midi, right? Not exactly the top of Mont Blanc.
    Lars
    Yup you're right

    Still that's the top for us mortals who don't do rock climbing

    More from that trip (sorry this video was taken with a 4MP P&S)

    Had the Contax kit, Valeo, Digital Magazine, iPaq and also a little 4X6" Canon dye-sub running on a battery so we could send postcards from every one of the 28 mountain passes we did...
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
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    Re: Panorama Technique

    I had posted this image in a much larger format without any protection such as a watermark. It has since been made very clear to me that anyone who wanted to could grab a screen shot and print the darn thing. I would have preferred to repost in my original thread however it appear I did not have that option.

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    Re: Panorama Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by Iron Creek View Post
    I had posted this image in a much larger format without any protection such as a watermark. It has since been made very clear to me that anyone who wanted to could grab a screen shot and print the darn thing. I would have preferred to repost in my original thread however it appear I did not have that option.

    Knew I should have grabbed it while the grabbing was good Prudent move Don, it's an image worth protecting.

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