1/2 sec at f/13, focal length: 87mm, flash: On Camera ETTL, ISO 400 - June 10, 2008, 7:56pm PDT Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, EF 70-200mm f/4L, Canon 550ex, handheld Read More / View Exif / Purchase Prints...
Composite of 28 images. 1/25 sec at f/11, focal length: 102mm, ISO 100 - May 12, 2008, 5:57pm PDT Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, Tamron AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II, tripod mounted
This image of Yosemite Valley is a composite of 28 images with an 8.2mp sensor. The result is a file that can be printed at 30"x66" at 300dpi without resizing! So for those that are looking to achieve large format prints but can't afford the latest high megapixel medium format digital camera or are unwilling to lug around a large format film camera, do not despair. With a little bit of planning and familiarity with the equipment you have you'll never be limited by print size again, no matter what the pixel count may be on your sensor.
Click thru to read more and see a 100% crop of Bridalveil without any resizing.
The lens I used was a Tamron 18-200mm (super zoom). OK at doing everything, but not great at doing anything. At either extreme, the lens is soft and has chromatic aberration, but right in the mid-range with an f-stop of f/8 or 11 the lens doesn't do so bad. Knowing this I went with a focal length of right around 100mm at f/11.
Usually for composites, I've found that you'll get the best results by photographing in the vertical position (less distortion from side to side, which makes for easier stitching). The only other thing you need to do to have near certain success with a multiple image photomerge is to make sure that your tripod is level and that it remains level as you pan from left to right. The Bogen ball head that I use has a spirit level on the plate to ensure that the composition is level. It would be even better to have a level on the legs to ensure that those are level as well (it would just make the process a little faster/easier is all). You can also use a hot shoe bubble level, such as the Manfrotto 337 Bubble Level.
You'll want to set your camera to manual to ensure that your exposure is consistent throughout. And if you're shooting in jpeg, which you shouldn't be, then you'll want to take your camera out of Auto White Balance mode so that your color temp will also remain consistent.
As you begin to photograph your subject, allow yourself at least 20% overlap between frames. What I usually do is pick an object about 1/4 of the way in from the edge of the frame and track that object as I pan until it is 1/4 of the way from the opposite edge of the frame. Doing this will give your software enough information to construct a seamless composite without any noticeable artifacts.
To stitch the images, I brought them all into Adobe Bridge, selected the 28 images that I needed to complete the composition and opened them in Adobe Camera Raw. I then set the white balance to Daylight since I was shooting in RAW to make sure that I had a consistent white balance throughout each image. I then hit done, not open images, and while in Adobe Bridge again, with all 28 images still selected, I went to Tools>Photoshop>Photomerge.
This will then open Photoshop (I use CS3, which has so far provided far superior results with Photomerge over previous versions). In the dialog that comes up, on the left hand side, leave Auto selected. Make sure that all of the images you want are included in the list. If there are images that weren't included add them through the dialog and remove any that were accidentally included. Hit OK and now you play the waiting game.
Once the file opens it will be unflattened. I suggest looking over the entire image at 100% to ensure that the stitch was clean and up to your standards. If so flatten the image and save. Now look at the image size and be amazed.
Below is a 100% crop from the original image without any resizing. Not too bad for a low megapixel camera and an inexpensive lens.
1/250 sec at f/8, focal length: 135mm - - July 10, 2008, 8:53pm PDT Two strobes, one 45 degrees camera left at full power and one 45 degrees camera right at 1/8 power. Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, EF 70-200mm f/4L + extension tubes, tripod mounted Read More / View Exif / Purchase Prints...
1/250 sec at f/8, focal length: 50mm - July 10, 2008, 9:05pm PDT Two strobes, one 45 degrees camera left at full power and one 45 degrees camera right at 1/8 power. Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, EF 50mm f/1.8 + extension tubes, tripod mounted Read More / View Exif / Purchase Prints...
1/20 sec at f/4, focal length: 184mm - June 4, 2008, 7:14pm PDT Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, EF 70-200mm f/4L, handheld
This image is an example that open eyes and no expectations can sometimes lead to something wonderful.
I live relatively close to this lake and one evening, while my wife was at work, I decided to take my kids for a walk along the southern shore. My children are 2 years and 9 months and with two so young and so close, but in two totally different directions, it can be quite demanding on time and energy. And even though I knew full well that the opportunity to create, let alone connect with a moment that could actually invoke some kind of emotion upon viewing, would most certainly be non existent, I grabbed my camera and a single lens.
We reached the lake and put Bowie, my 9 month old son, in a jogging stroller and let Haven, my 2 year old daughter walk along side so that occasionally she could wander a bit off the paths and explore. As it came time to eat, Haven had chosen a nice bench right along the water line so that we could enjoy our dinner.
As we were eating I noticed this great grouping of trees sitting in the water, completely shaded with beautiful, soft directional light filtering in from the right. I could see that even though the light was great, there were still a lot of distractions in the scene. (My children were very preoccupied with dinner at this point and allowing me an unusual amount of time to contemplate things of which that have absolutely no concern to them) I quickly started to set up my camera for the image I was beginning to visualize in case they continued to be so gracious.
I set my camera to Daylight White Balance to keep the overall cool tones that I was seeing in the scene, and although I am always in RAW mode and could have easily adjusted white balance in post and left the camera in Automatic White Balance, I prefer to work this way as it helps me to stay focused on the image that I'm seeing in my mind. If I would have left the camera in Auto WB, it would have most definitely biased towards a warmer color temperature, losing the cool tones and therefore losing the emotion of the scene. If I were to see this on the back of the LCD as I was making images, I may have lost interest before I got the right one.
Next step was to eliminate the distractions.
I am William Neill's assistant. Bill has been creating some very provocative Impressionistic images lately and its hard not to be inspired/influenced by his work, especially when I get the opportunity to study it every day...I love my job. But being familiar with this technique, and having used it numerous times over the last couple of years, I knew that it was my solution. By setting my ISO to 100, I knew that I would be able to get a slow enough shutter speed with any given f/stop to eliminate distractions. It would then be a question of what shutter speed was the right one, which I could only determine by actually making images and seeing which one I responded to most, though I do know that I usually prefer to hang out in the 1/10 to 1/15 of a second range when creating "Impressions".
So now the camera is set, I'm already envisioning a composition, and dinner is all done. All I need is continued cooperation from my two amazing kids.
We begin to make our way towards the stand of trees and Haven and Bowie are doing great. Haven is telling me all about the ducks she sees and how one of them is a baby duck like Bowie. We get to a spot along the path that I like and happens to have some rocks that Haven has taken interest in. Bowie is happy as can be watching the water lap in as boats pull their skiers by. I instantly pull my camera to my eye and start photographing before the chance is lost.
I quickly see that I'm liking whats happening with 1/20 sec and stick there for most of the frames. I'm keeping enough texture in the tree trunks but still losing enough of the distracting details in the background.
I get about 2 minutes into photographing and find out that Haven was so contemplative with the rocks because she's also been working on something else that I quickly need to change, so we head back to the car, get everyone cleaned up and call it a night. Read More / View Exif / Purchase Prints...