Panoramic HDR Stats
This panoramic HDR is the largest image I’ve created to date, and one of the most elaborate post-production processes I’ve ever employed. It is a panoramic HDR, made up of 8 pano exposures, 3 detail exposures, and 27 output images. At full size it measures 16,351 x 4747 pixels, which comes to 77.6 Mega Pixels, and can be printed up to 54.5 x 15.8 inches @ 300dpi.
Check out this image and more within my Fine Art Portfolio
Panoramic HDR, is not a term I’ve heard before, but a combination of two post-production techniques. A panoramic image (or pano) is one stitched together from several individual frames. This technique allows the final output to show more of a scene than the lens can actually see. An HDR image (High Dynamic Range) is made up of 3 or more exposures, each captured at a different exposure value, and processed into a single final image. The human eye can see more range between the brightest part of a scene and the darkest than a camera can, and using HDR can help to compensate for this.
Behind the Shot
The best (most accurate, least likely to cause distortion) way to capture a panoramic series is with a tripod. Ideally with an “L” bracket or panoramic head on the tripod. This allows you to move the nodal point of the lens over the turning point of the tripod. Without this the possibility for paralax arises, leading to distorted pano’s.
When shooting a panoramic series, each image should overlap with the previous by no less than 20%. This gives the computer enough reference points to stitch the two images together. I also recommend holding the camera vertically when shooting panoramic elements, that way you can capture more height (top-to-bottom) in each element, then capture more elements to get your (left-to-right) width.
When shooting the elements for this panoramic HDR I did not use a tripod. I was out enjoying the lake with my wife and my dog, and did not bring a tripod with me. So, I needed to hand-hold the camera, or forget the composition. I opted for the former. As I hand-held the camera to capture these panoramic elements, I paid close attention to rotate the camera around the nodal point of the lens, and to overlap each element by 30%. And for a handheld pano-stitch, I’m quite proud of the final product.
Once I captured all the elements it was time for post-production. I first made some exposure adjustments in Lightroom to get my base images looking the way I wanted. Then I exported the 7 images, at 3 different exposure values. Next, I used these exported images to create 3 sticthed panoramic images, one exposed correctly, one under exposed, and one over exposed. Each pano shows different parts of the scene very well. That is, the over exposed image showed great detail in the surface of the lake. The under exposed image showed great detail in the clouds. And the properly exposed image showed great detail across the average of the scene.
So I took those 3 panoramic elements in to Photoshop and merged them to HDR to get something like the final product you see. The only thing left were some minor details. The bird soaring through the sky (some of the more observant of you may have already noticed) was placed there after the fact. That bird was flying above me earlier in the day. I took one of the best images from the series, created a silhouette of the bird, and placed it in the sky where I thought it looked pleasing.
Here are some things you can spot in this image:
- A hawk soaring in the sky, looking for fish in the lake
- A man and his dog enjoying the view from the shore
- A bird dive bombing into the water to catch a fish
- 3 kayakers, 2 of them fishing
Did you find all the things? Did you enjoy learning how I made this? Let me know in the comments.