Aloha! We recently spent a few days on the Big Island of Hawaii at the Marriott Beach Resort on Anaeho’omalu Bay ( 19°54’57.97″N 155°53’20.17″W).
There is a very nice group of beaches along the south shore of the bay that afford a roughly 60 degree panoramic view of the entire bay, including the resort. I decided to capture this view in a sequence of photos to create a panoramic image.
Click on the thumbnails below to display the image. The high resolution version is 53 megapixels, so it might take several minutes to display depending on the speed of your connection.
I used a Canon 20D and Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 lens in RAW mode. The image consists of 21 separate hand-held vertical shots at 1/100 sec, f/22, ISO 100, 85mm. I chose the exposure setting by taking a reading off the sky and then underexposing by about 2 stops. Even with Image Stabilization turned on, I didn’t want the shutter speed to be too slow or there could be blurring, so I underexposed. I used Manual mode to ensure that all the shots would have the same exposure, which reduces the chance of having blending problems when the shots are stitched together later.
I used Auto Focus for all the shots. Normally, I recommend using Manual Focus and choosing one dominant feature of the scene as the focus setting for all shots. In this case, there wasn’t a dominent feature, however there was a wide range of distances around the bay and to the background hills. So, I decided it would be better to set a large depth-of-field (f/22) and let the camera focus each shot.
Since this was done hand-held, I allowed for a lot of overlap in the sequence of 21 shots. Standing at approximately 19°54’40.74″N 155°53’32.00″W, I was able to cover roughly 60 degrees of sweep in roughly 3 degree steps, doing my best to keep the camera level as I rotated. Normally, I advise folks to use a tripod for this sort of work, but since I was travelling very light on this particular trip, I didn’t bring a tripod with me. Nonetheless, if done carefully, hand-held sequences can work out well.
There would have been 22 shots in the sequence if my CF card hadn’t filled up at exactly that point! I didn’t want to change cards and then try to recompose for 22nd shot, so I only got 21 shots. TIP: dry-run the sequence to determine how many shots you expect to take and then make sure you have enough remaining shots on the camera!
I used Adobe Camera Raw 5 with the ACR 4.4 camera profile to open the RAW files. On the first file, I make the following adjustments in the Basic tab:
- Temperature 4800
- Tint +1
- Exposure +1.95
- Blacks 8
- Brightness +2
- Contrast +38
- Clarity +24
- Vibrance +24
These adjustments brightened up the underexposed images and brought out more blue in the water.
I also used ACR to remove sensor dust spots from the first file. Man, I should have blown off the sensor before taking this sequence since there must have been about 30 prominent dust spots! If you don’t remove these spots, you can get repeating patterns of spots on the final merged image which looks real ugly.
Using “Select All” and “Synchronize”, I ensured the same adjustments on the first file were applied equally to all the photos in the sequence, including removing the same sensor dust spots. In my opinion, this ability to apply the same adjustments and sensor spot removal to a set of photos is a compelling reason to use ACR to process all images, even JPGs.
I then used Photoshop CS4 Extended to merge the photos (File->Automate->Photomerge) with the Cylindrical option. Even though it was a hand-held sequence, the alignment turned out to be pretty good and there was very little lost when I cropped the resulting image to 15940 x 3326 pixels. The Canon 20D outputs 3504 x 2336 pixels (8.2 MP), so my cropping loss was only about 5% vertically and almost nothing horizontally.
So that’s how my 8.2 MP Canon 20D became a 53 MP super camera. It’s all done with Photomerge.
All photos are © 2008, Bradley A. Grigor