Tips for Panoramas by Mike Reid
Mike Reid loves shooting panoramas with the ZEISS Otus 1.4/85 and the ZEISS Apo Sonnar T* 2/135, this time in Seattle. Find out which advices he can give to you.
I think what I love most about creating panoramas is the width and detail of the scene captured. With a single wide angle shot, you not only have the wide angle distortion, but the scene itself falls far back from the viewpoint. Panoramas counter this, creating a close in view with tremendous detail. Now a bit about the technique.
Scouting for panoramas is really about finding a scene that is best told up close and with considerable breadth. I find myself doing many cityscape panoramas for that reason. There is so much going on, in the city, above the city and in front of it. The weather and light also plays a role of course. Skies above, reflections in front, sunlight on the buildings themselves. These all add interest to the scene.
So I have found myself in West Seattle looking back at the city. The view reaching across the city is captivating from a number of locations around the city. Two of my favorite spots are Alki Beach and Rizal Park. With the skies coming together for some soft but dramatic light, I set out to create the handful of shots that would meld together for the panoramas. These panoramas are full of detail and are a wonderful way to see how much detail a lens can capture.
At this point, I am thinking about gear. I have my tripod and ballhead, Sony α7R II camera with remote and ZEISS Otus 1.4/85 as well as ZEISS Apo Sonnar T* 2/135. I’ve found that the ZEISS/Sony combination creates vertical pano “panels”, that is, shots that will be stitched together for the pano, with intense amounts of detail and dynamic range. Taking a last look at the scene before shooting, I want a moment with as little movement as possible. Moving boats, waves, planes etc will distract from the scene at large. At this point, I focus, and set the camera to capture the panels with as much detail and depth of field as possible. I am shooting left to right, in manual mode set to capture the scene with the best light.
Back home in front of my screen, I prepare the panels in Lightroom, looking for consistent light, colors and sharpeness. Vignetting if shot wide open can create waves of dark in the pano so I tune the develop settings to counter that. Lightroom has an excellent Panorama feature and I go to that as my first option. Sometimes I have to change the perspective settings to get the right look. Another great choice for creating panoramas is Microsoft’s free Image Composite Editor.
I highly recommend going back and checking the resulting image for flaws such as waves that don’t line up or clouds that stop and start. Much of this can be fixed with Clone Stamp in Photoshop.