Making of "Edmonds Rainbow Panorama"
By PF Staff in Favorite Photos on Jan 21, 2013
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One night browsing around tumblr I came across a post about the "Brenizer Method;" named after the famed wedding photographer, Ryan Brenizer. His method is to use panoramic stitching to create an image that looks like it was taking with a wider lens on a medium format camera. This is normally done by using a large-aperture telephoto on a APS-C/FF camera. You shoot as wide-open as you can to achieve a small depth-of-field and shoot around your subject to take in more out-of-focus details and background. I was really intrigued by the concept and studied it all night and wanted to try it the next day. Lucky for me Western Washington was still enjoying unusually dry weather when I got antsy to take some photos, so I headed down to the Edmonds Waterfront to fulfill my urge. In my excitement of seeing the perfect rainbow-over-the-ferry picture I forgot about Brenizer and snapped away for a panorama... What came out was a "happy accident" that, although not what I was planning on shooting, still makes me proud.
Capturing the Shot(s)
I was strolling along the Edmonds Waterfront trying to find something interesting to experiment with the Brenizer Method with nothing really creative catching my eye. I looked up and saw that a rainbow had formed framing the Edmonds-Kingston ferry in its colorful glow. Because Brenizer uses panoramic stitching I was thinking of everything around me in panorama frames.
In my excitement over trying to get the shot I forgot that I had my aperture still set to f/2 as I snapped off 30 frames trying to capture the scene before it disappeared. By the time I realized my mistake both the rainbow and the ferry had departed. I was really worried that it would lack sharpness being shot so wide-open, but I think it looks fine. In the future I need to focus more on keeping my camera level as I sweep across the scene. Before cropping, the raw stitched image was intensely slanted along the top and bottom.
I'll admit that I am very inexperienced with post-processing in digital. I started my photography with film and am more fluent in a darkroom than on my laptop, especially for an 18 year-old. I started with "Automate" -> "Photomerge..." and selected the "Auto" setting. It took about 20 minutes to process, even on my dual-core 64-bit laptop, due to using the highest quality JPEG setting for 30 shots; around 66MB for all 30. A lot of people recommend using lower quality settings, but I'm always weary of that.
Once Photoshop was done aligning and layering everything I cropped the biggest image rectangle that fit inside the merged images and saved. The final stitched image after cropping is 34.3MB and ~10500x3750 pixels! I then applied the "Unsharp Mask" filter at ~150% and 1.3~1.5 pixels wide since I prefer it over in-camera sharpening and I was so worried about sharpness due to shooting a landscape at f/2... I did a little fiddling with brightness, contrast, and hue/vibrancy until I was happy with the look; nothing too major though.
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