The earth is flat. We all know that. Take a look at the prairies in Canada. Nothing but flatness. Shooting that flatness can be somewhat of a challenge. It appears as if you never have enough angle on your lens to cover everything you see.

Highway 202, Manitoba

Whatever you try, there is not a lens that can convey the feeling you get when looking at that flat earth all around you.

This problem, that only photographers experience, can only be solved by photographers. Photographers are magicians of vision. They can enlarge what cannot be seen. They can make angles wider than whatever equipment manufacturer can ever provide.

Grassy Narrows Marsh, Manitoba

Grassy Narrows Marsh, Manitoba

We call that panorama photography. By stitching two or more photographs together, the effect of having a very wide angle lens can be achieved. All you need is a bit of intelligent software to do some calculations. We all have such software today.

Arch of Friendship, Kyiv, Ukraine

Arch of Friendship, Kyiv, Ukraine

Back in the 1980’s I went on holiday to Norway. Shooting panoramas to convey the feeling of the landscape was the only way. Yet when I received my paper prints at home, the photos didn’t quite match up. I had enough overlap between the shots, but still some things were “off”. After that, I more or less abandoned the idea of doing this with twelve or more shots.

Parliament Buildings, Budapest, Hungary

Parliament Buildings, Budapest, Hungary

Panoramic cameras came later on the market, but they had different issues for me. It was only when digital photography came along that I was able to figure out a way to stitch multiple shots together to create something bigger than what my camera wanted me to believe. The software that came with my first digital point and shoot (a Nikon Coolpix 4600) allowed me to stich the pictures. It used Adobe Flash to display them.

Brokenhead Wetlands, Manitoba

Brokenhead Wetlands, Manitoba

That was great, except that the maker of the software had apparently forgotten to pay any license fees for the Flash generating components in the software. So I had to find something else. Photoshop then got a little addon that allowed to do nearly the same thing, albeit not interactively. Oh well.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg, Manitoba

After that, Lightroom also came out with the stitching module. I was back in business with my panoramas! As it turned out, there was now a little more to “shooting panos” than just click away while turning your camera around you.

PR 234, Manitoba

PR 234, Manitoba

The better panoramas have quite the science attached to it. Sites like this one have that completely detailed out. In painful details. When I first went to that site, I started to wonder if I would ever be able to get a good panorama. As it turns out, the guys at Adobe did a great job figuring out how to deform the individual images in such a way that they fit together. Artefacts like a bendy road like in the shot above are common and inevitable.

Bat Lake, Eagle Canyon, Ontario

Bat Lake, Eagle Canyon, Ontario

Other artefacts, like people walking in different frames can now be removed automatically. Something I couldn’t even dream of when shooting film. Shots taken with additional tricks, like a polarising filter on a wide angle lens, can still cripple the panorama. Otherwise, the results are near perfect.

Callaghans Cove, Nova Scotia

Callaghans Cove, Nova Scotia

Software can do a lot nowadays. But you still have to abide by a few rules to get the best results. Never tilt or turn the camera differently between shots, the horizon will become wavy and irregular. Even the calmest lake will then give you seasickness.

LaHave, Nova Scotia

LaHave, Nova Scotia

Use of a tripod for people that have unsteady hands or legs is still recommended. At least the shots will have a straight horizon Smile.

Seven Sisters Power Station, Natalie Lake

Seven Sisters Power Station, Natalie Lake

Today, my technique for shooting panoramas is pretty much “au point” or “well done”. After many trials and errors, together with the necessary disappointments, I got the technique where I want it. The most important part is to leave enough overlap between shots so that the software can figure out what goes where. The other one is to find a stable spot to shoot from. From there on it is smooth sailing. Oh, yes, using a wide angle lens could seem logical, but a lens with less distortion towards the edges like a 50mm or longer is preferred.

The earth is flat, we all know that on the prairies. The edges of our view are visible in every shot we take. There is only one way to shoot over those edges, and that is by shooting panoramas.

If you decide to shoot outside the edges of your camera, make sure to check your footing. You might trip into oblivion.

Until next time…

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Henk
6 hours 59 minutes

Thanks :) !

sursohog
10 hours 11 minutes

---Very nice Blog Henk - some nice shots there...-:)

Henk
5 days 3 hours

Presets can speed up your workflow a lot, provided you have plenty of the same type of pictures. People doing weddings will a ...

Henk
5 days 3 hours

Hi, I hadn't noticed that the typing colour was that dark... changed it to pure white, that should do it ... Henk

'Dan..
5 days 5 hours

I certainly agree the use of presets will discourage people learning their own methods but they can offer a shortcut to fulfi ...

Henk
26 days 4 hours

Well, I was told so by a "pro" that later recanted... :-) I removed the name, so at least it is now correct.

josie brendle
27 days 6 hours

nice blog but sorry the horses are not Clydesdales. Those are a little bigger. :)

Henk
27 days 20 hours

Test comment here

Henk Von Pickartz
28 days

This is a comment. I will see if this works or if this will be taken over by spammers. If so, then I will take it down again.