Panoramas

San Juan Mts AU11-Panorama 8

Panoramas are photos made from several images stitched together in software. The most popular method is to use “photomerge” in Photoshop, but there’s other software out there as well. One advantage of panoramas is they can transform a modest APS-C camera into a high resolution photographic machine. Depending on how many photos you combine to make the final image, you can create monster photo documents with stunning resolution. Consider the following panorama of Mount Lassen reflecting in Manzanita Lake:

Lassen SP10 Panorama 5

This is an image made from six photos, using a fairly sharp 50mm prime lens. The 100% resolution crop is surprisingly detailed, consider how narrowly it zooms into the original image:

Lassen SP10 Panorama 5-2

Or consider the following panorama of some grand formations along the “Scenic Drive” in Capitol Reef National Park in Utah:

Capitol Reef AU11 Panorama 5

This is an image made from eight separate photos shot with a 28mm prime lens. Now observe the 100% crop:

Capitol Reef AU11 Panorama 5-2

If you use a lens with a longer focal length, a 135mm or 200mm lens, you can get even more detail. The problem is creating images that are stitchable. The images have to overlap by at least 30%. Very difficult to with narrow focal lengths involving more than five or six shots, particularly if you are taking shots in many rows and columns. For that, you a special panning robot such as the Gigapan EPIC Pro.

Panorama’s can also be used as cheap method of making your lens shoot with a wider FOV. Suddenly a 28mm lens can be given the FOV of a 15mm lens. The following shot, for example, is a two image panorama taken with a 35mm prime lens. I needed a wider FOV but didn’t want to swap lens: so I just made a quick and dirty panorama:

San Juan Mts AU11-Panorama 16

Another example is another two image panorama taken of Crystal Mill. My principle incentive here was to be able shoot the mill with a prime lens, which would give better image quality than a zoom. I had only one prime lens with me, a 28mm lens, which was not wide enough. But using panorama techniques easily circumvents these difficulties.

Crystal Pano 1

I find that the best focal lengths for landscape panoramas are 24mm to 50mm on APS-C cameras. Anything wider than 24mm can be difficult to stitch together thanks to perspective distortion. You can use longer focal lengths as well, if you wish to isolate something in the landscape. The following panorama was shot in the neighborhood of 85mm:

Arches AU11-Panorama 5

The point of this panorama was to try to capture the landscape in Arches NP from a vista point were everything could be taken in, so the longer focal length came in handy.

Other examples:

Crater Lake, shot at 24mm—
Crater Lake SP10 Panorama 5

Dallas Divide, shot with a 35mm prime lens—
San Juan Mts AU11-Panorama 11

Dry Lagoon, shot at 24mm—

Northcoast Misc WI11-Panorama 1