Bosque Panorama – Quick Behind The Scenes

Bosque del Apache Photo by Scott Bourne

Bosque Panorama – Quick Behind The Scenes

I made this five image panorama at Bosque del Apache, National Wildlife Refuge. The setting is the “Wetlands Roost” also known as the crane pools at the north end of the refuge.

This is just a quick behind the scenes in case the beginners among you want to know how to do this quick and easy. NOTE: I am about to discuss how I like to make these sorts of images and what I consider to be the best practices. These aren’t rules. Merely guidelines. Your situation may be different, but if you are just looking for a place to start, this should help.

My first tip is to use a mid-range telephoto with panorama shots. Most people go wide but I prefer the look from a telephoto lens. To make that work, it’s important that you shoot verticals, NOT horizontals. You can collect more data that way for the merge in post.

I like to make five-shot panoramas, especially when shooting verticals. Three can be enough, and seven seems like too many. It’s all according to taste. There is no right or wrong way to do it.

I am lucky enough to use Olympus cameras, which have amazing in-body-image-stabilization (IBIS) so I rarely use a tripod anymore for panorama images. If you don’t have a well-stabilized camera and/or lens, then I recommend a tripod to steady the shot and to help you keep everything straight.

I used my Olympus OM-D E-M1 X, camera body with the Olympus 40-150 f./2.8 Pro Lens, handheld.

You want to set manual white balance, manual aperture and manual ISO so that the shot doesn’t change from one side of the panorama to the other. It makes it easier to blend the images and you should also make sure your focal point is at the same camera to subject distance in each image to avoid having areas that should be in focus appear blurry.

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After you have captured your images, you should consider basic RAW adjustments BEFORE you stitch. That way they can all be uniform. You don’t need to (nor should you) fully edit each image before you stitch but just make sure the basics are covered like exposure, contrast, brightness, etc.

You will need some software to stitch the images together. Most of you have Photoshop or Lightroom and both will do the job just fine. I prefer a standalone stitching program. I am using a Mac so for Mac users, I suggest Panorama Stitcher Mini. It’s free unless you want to stitch more than five images together.

One thing to note about stitching is that if you make birdscapes like I do (landscapes with birds in the image) then you need to essentially preserve the frame that features the birds. I usually clone out birds at the edges of the frame so they don’t bleed during the merge.

Once you have your stitched panorama, you will want to edit that as a single image. I used to spend time talking about blending each layer, etc., but frankly, most of the software that we use today does such a good job, manual editing is rarely required.

Bosque del Apache Photo by Scott Bourne

I use Luminar for most of my post-processing work. I am experimenting with other programs but find Luminar is the easiest to use.

I hope you like the picture and that maybe this gave you some ideas.

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2 Responses

  1. Here’s a trick that works pretty good if the dynamic range of the scene is more than what you can get in one shot. Set your camera for AE bracketing, typically 3 frames at 2 stops (-2 EV, 0 EV, +2 EV) is enough. Be careful, this won’t work if your +2 EV frame is too long to hand hold.

    In post, process each of the HDR images first, then merge for the pano. When doing the HDR processing figure out one of them and save the settings; then use the same settings for all the remaining frames.

    When doing this, always shoot left to right, it makes things a lot easier for you in post. I also get at least two, sometimes three sets to make sure it works right. At worst you can use the middle shot from each group and it gives you the same thing Scott talks about.

  2. Beautiful image Scott! Thanks for taking the time to blog about how you did this. You always explain things clearly. Also thanks for the recommendation on the stitching program. By the way, also thanks for the podcast. The format is perfect! Andy Garcia

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