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02-25-2014, 06:20 PM   #1
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Panorama lighting

I have a request for a panorama which takes in extreme lighting changes. Dawn and dusk are ok, but the person wants blue sky! (yuck). I just can't get it right. when I tried with exposure on auto I got bright white skies. I had my polorizing filter on, and when exposed to the brightest part of the scene I got very dark blue sky. No matter what I tried I could not get the lighting right. I really need help on this. I was using a wide angle 17-50 I tried going manual and changing the exposure as I turned (on tripod) but although I got better exposure to a point, I still got bright white sky. I need all the help I can get with this one as I will be paid if I can get it right. This is a semi circle photo which does not help. The first part is on the board walk which is all shadows. If I leave it until later in the day the warter is too choppy, so have to get it at around 6.30 -7am

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02-25-2014, 06:46 PM   #2
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Shoot multiple exposures and blend them in something like Photomatix. I do this all the time with panoramas, and it takes care of those lighting differences (and gives blue skies). If you do it right, you'll get very "natural" looking results.

BTW, just in case you don't know, the easiest way to get multiple exposures is to 1) use a tripod, 2) change the drive mode of your camera to "Exposure bracketing" (also called AEB), and 3) shoot your brackets (think 3 shots before you turn the camera) in a raw file format (PEF or DNG). Photomatix can directly blend these raw files with something called "Exposure Fusion" which looks pretty natural.
02-25-2014, 06:46 PM   #3
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You need to start at the brightest side of the pano. Put the camera in M mode (Manual). Take a few test shots, adjusting exposure (aperture, ISO, shutter) until you are happy with the shot. Then you can leave the camera in M, with the correct exposure settings, and take the rest of the panorama.

Or do as panoguy says, and use HDR (I usually just do it that way)
02-25-2014, 07:35 PM   #4
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The key to having a natural looking panorama is to have consistent exposure across all frames. Changing exposure will lead to a disjointed look as the frames will have abrupt transitions. If shooting auto, always expose for the brightest part of the scene (if the brightest part includes the sun, expose a bit to the sides, not directly into it) to avoid blown highlights. Once you have exposure use AE Lock (if in manual, don't touch any settings). If you decide that some parts of the image are too dark, you can lift the shadows in post-processing to compress the dynamic range, but try to keep the adjustments in all frames as close as possible.

If you decide that the exposure difference is too extreme, and need to make some slight adjustments, lots of overlap between frames gives the stitching software more to work with to blend as smoothly as possible. Also this is important if you use wide angle lenses to minimize distortion. I generally do 50% overlap with the adjacent frames (if something is on the edge of the frame, for the next shot I put it in the middle).

I would not use a polarizer with a panorama, or any shot significantly greater than 90 degrees (depending on composition relative to the sun). The sky will look darkest at 90 degrees from the sun, and brightest a 0 (obviously) and 180 degrees (directly opposite the sun). This leads to a very unnatural lighting progression in which moving away from the sun you get darker until 90 degrees, then it starts to get brighter again even though the sun is nowhere near.


Last edited by Cannikin; 02-25-2014 at 08:18 PM.
02-25-2014, 11:36 PM   #5
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Thanks for the advice on polarizer. In regard to all of the above, I was using a tripod. I also used same exposure on all frames in the one I have attached here. When I got to the boardwalk part the exposure I was on caused so much noise it was impossible to remove. (I have tried to remove the noise on the picture posted here, but lost all detail). I have messed up here as I dont' know how to post a picture in reply.
So if I start from brightest area how will that change the fact that the boardwalk area is really 'noisy' I was shooting on f10 1/60
Plus if I bracket, do I choose the best of the three exposures, or put them together with Photoshop HDR merge. I only have CS5. I shall post the 'noisy' pic as a new post.
02-26-2014, 12:25 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by trishytee Quote
Thanks for the advice on polarizer. In regard to all of the above, I was using a tripod. I also used same exposure on all frames in the one I have attached here. When I got to the boardwalk part the exposure I was on caused so much noise it was impossible to remove. (I have tried to remove the noise on the picture posted here, but lost all detail). I have messed up here as I dont' know how to post a picture in reply.
So if I start from brightest area how will that change the fact that the boardwalk area is really 'noisy' I was shooting on f10 1/60
Plus if I bracket, do I choose the best of the three exposures, or put them together with Photoshop HDR merge. I only have CS5. I shall post the 'noisy' pic as a new post.
If the EXIF is right on your "noisy" panorama in the other thread, it was shot at ISO 800. Since you're on a tripod, and there aren't really moving subjects in your shot, keeping a high shutter speed is unnecessary. Set the ISO to 100, letting the shutter speed go as slow as needed, and set the drive mode to 2 second delay to avoid camera shake. Keeping the ISO down this way will cut down on a lot of noise, as well as increase the dynamic range, giving you a little more leeway in lifting the shadows.

As an added bonus, a slower shutter speed also has the effect of smoothing out moving water, if that's what you're after.

You can also try using a graduated ND filter, as sometimes, especially at dawn/twilight, the dynamic range between the sky and a dark foreground is just too extreme to expose for both.

Last edited by Cannikin; 02-26-2014 at 12:40 AM.
02-26-2014, 01:30 AM   #7
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I'm an idiot: I forgot about the probs with iso. I don't know what I would do without all the help that is given here. Fellow wants blue sky, so tomorrow I will try the bracketing with camera choosing the shutter speed. I need the f10/12 to get the depth of field in the boardwalk section. I have been trying to get a pic about 60x30 but have not found out how I can do that, as the more pics I take the wider the end product is. I see I was using the 70mm prime in the copy I posted. That does tend to get images closer. What would you advise: the 70mm or the wide angle 20-10.
My prob with bracketing is that I only have the photoshop option.
02-26-2014, 03:05 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by trishytee Quote
I forgot about the probs with iso. I don't know what I would do without all the help that is given here. Fellow wants blue sky, so tomorrow I will try the bracketing with camera choosing the shutter speed. I need the f10/12 to get the depth of field in the boardwalk section. I have been trying to get a pic about 60x30 but have not found out how I can do that, as the more pics I take the wider the end product is. I see I was using the 70mm prime in the copy I posted. That does tend to get images closer. What would you advise: the 70mm or the wide angle 20-10.
It's usually much easier to stitch photos from a 70mm lens than a 10 or 20mm lenses. Wide lenses have too much distortion. Of course this means you have to shoot more frames, but you'll also get much higher resolution. I presume you're overlapping about 1/3 of the way into each side of the frame.


Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you may not have got the idea of this post:
QuoteOriginally posted by jezza323 Quote
You need to start at the brightest side of the pano. Put the camera in M mode (Manual). Take a few test shots, adjusting exposure (aperture, ISO, shutter) until you are happy with the shot. Then you can leave the camera in M, with the correct exposure settings, and take the rest of the panorama.

Or do as panoguy says, and use HDR (I usually just do it that way)
If you allow the exposure to change at all as you pan it causes a problem, because you can't stitch together with uniform brightness later. The idea here is to set the exposure on the brightest frame of the scene, and then allow every other frame to underexpose a little. The reason is it's easier to recover information from an underexposed frame than an overexposed one. But if the initial exposure on each frame isn't uniform then it's nearly impossible to stitch together without the the difference in brightness being obvious at the seams. After stitching you can work on shadow recovery and whatever else you need to do on the stitched image.

So in M mode you set the Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO to be constant throughout the pan. And of course you don't want rapidly changing light levels as at sunrise or sunset.

[The above is essentially what Cannikan said]

The variation on this that panoguy mentioned is to bracket around this fixed M exposure so you can employ HDR in post processing. So, for example, you might bracket to create 2 additional exposures at each panning position, one at 1 1/2 stops over and one at 1 1/2 stops under the fixed exposure you set in M mode. (The actual amount over and under would depend on the scene and your camera).



If all else fails, just pull out your iPhone running iOS7 and take the pano (but don't tell him how you did it!)


Last edited by DSims; 02-26-2014 at 03:12 AM.
02-26-2014, 05:57 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
It's usually much easier to stitch photos from a 70mm lens than a 10 or 20mm lenses. Wide lenses have too much distortion. Of course this means you have to shoot more frames, but you'll also get much higher resolution. I presume you're overlapping about 1/3 of the way into each side of the frame.


Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like you may not have got the idea of this post:

If you allow the exposure to change at all as you pan it causes a problem, because you can't stitch together with uniform brightness later. The idea here is to set the exposure on the brightest frame of the scene, and then allow every other frame to underexpose a little. The reason is it's easier to recover information from an underexposed frame than an overexposed one. But if the initial exposure on each frame isn't uniform then it's nearly impossible to stitch together without the the difference in brightness being obvious at the seams. After stitching you can work on shadow recovery and whatever else you need to do on the stitched image.

So in M mode you set the Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO to be constant throughout the pan. And of course you don't want rapidly changing light levels as at sunrise or sunset.

[The above is essentially what Cannikan said]

The variation on this that panoguy mentioned is to bracket around this fixed M exposure so you can employ HDR in post processing. So, for example, you might bracket to create 2 additional exposures at each panning position, one at 1 1/2 stops over and one at 1 1/2 stops under the fixed exposure you set in M mode. (The actual amount over and under would depend on the scene and your camera).



If all else fails, just pull out your iPhone running iOS7 and take the pano (but don't tell him how you did it!)
Hmmm. Sadly I don't have the iphone option. I shall try again tomorrow morning. I do need to wait for the sun to be fully up, as we want a blue sky. Sorry for my dumbness but when I have my three brackets do I merge them first beforethe stitch or do I just try to stitch them all together? My biggest problem is that if I use the 70ml lens I end up with about 15 images which ends up being way too long, and would need a bus to print it on. I am trying for a final image of abour 60x 30 or near enough. I know some of the panos I have seen are about 30 images stitched and they still manage to print smaller sizes. When I take 15 images it ends up around 102 inches width?
I shall have onother crack at it tomorrow am, using the 70ml and the wide angle and bracketing and see how I go. Damn it, the dawn one was so nice!
02-26-2014, 02:29 PM   #10
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The only issue with sunrise/sunset is that the light levels may change so quickly that the exposure may be too mismatched between the first and last frame. Otherwise you just want the same lighting conditions you normally would for the picture.

You should be able to scale the print down to whatever print size you need. There's nothing wrong with printing as what's effectively 600 dpi or higher. It's only when you go lower than approximately 180 dpi that you have problems. Let Photoshop (or whatever software you print with) do the scaling for you.


A typical way to get a 60 x 30 would be to do a 3 x 10 pano with your 70mm lens. As you've pointed out, the resolution will actually be much higher than you need for this print. But the 70mm is close to an ideal lens for this application, stitching nicely. So you would keep the camera in portrait orientation and shoot 3 rows of 10 frames, overlapping by about 1/3 on all sides. This will give you a roughly 56 x 115mm image (based on sensor size) at probably 4000 or 5000 dpi. Or if it fits the scene better, you could go with a 2 x 7 pano and get a 40x82mm image at the same 4000-5000 dpi. Likewise you could do a 1 x 4 or 4 x15, and so on.


You should probably take one pano without the exposure bracketing, to keep it simple, and another one with it.



BTW, is that 60 x 30 print in inches or cm? Because if it's cm you might barely get away with a single shot from the 10-20 lens, even though its IQ is only mid-range. You'd fall really close to that ~180 dpi printing limit. If it's inches, you could still try, but you'd have to upscale it in either Photoshop CC (improved upscaling in this version) or get OnOne software's Perfect Resize (trial should be available). In any case, take a few photos with the 10-20 as a backup plan.
02-26-2014, 04:05 PM   #11
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My advice would be to take hundreds of photos at varying exposures/lenses/focal lengths, using bracketing. Still take your time to frame and shoot each panorama properly, but this way you have plenty of data to work with, along with various options for the final image to choose from

As for merging bracketed panos, I usually HDR first, then stitch, but in CS5 id imagine you can do either way.

You can print an image smaller than the resulting stitched file, thats no problems at all, going bigger is the problem. Also if you need it in a 60x30 aspect, you could try shooting 2 rows of 15, so that the end result isnt so wide.
02-26-2014, 05:21 PM   #12
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A few things that haven't been mentioned yet.

1. Shoot in RAW if available.
2. When bracketing your exposures in M - make sure that the camera is adjusting the shutter speeds and not the aperture. If your shutter speeds are being adjusted you're okay, otherwise you'll need to use exposure compensation while in manual for each and every shot.
3. Shoot a little wider than you actually need. This will come in handy when cropping down for the final image.
4. Put your auto white balance to daylight for all shots. If you're shooting RAW this may not be too much of a big deal since WB can easily be fine tuned in post. However, if you're shooting JPEGs then you absolutely must have the camera's white balance set for daylight since WB can't be adjusted properly in post for JPEGs.
02-26-2014, 06:38 PM - 1 Like   #13
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I think manual mode is the way to go. Expose so the brightest part is very bright, but nothing is clipping, then keep those settings for the rest of the panorama. If you shoot raw, you should be able to blend it all together. You can try changing the ISO slightly (by thirds) as you turn the camera.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 02-27-2014 at 04:09 AM.
02-26-2014, 07:10 PM - 2 Likes   #14
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To add more to what has already been shared (RAW, Manual mode) I'd also lock in a white balance -- don't let that auto either.

Also consider the potential for Parallax effect in your panorama and either get a tripod with a nodal slider (I use a cheap macro rail in place of the slider) or carefully angle the camera while hand holding with the point of rotation at the tip of the camera lens to mitigate this effect.
02-28-2014, 04:45 PM   #15
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I think that you all take your pano shooting far too seriously. Use some decent stitching software instead
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