Challenge – Panoramas


Simply put, a panorama is a picture containing a wide view.  However, it is the aspect ratio (ie width to height) and the coverage of the field of view that determines if the image is panoramic.  I think my attempt today counts.

Yes, this is fog near Canberra in Summer on New Year’s Eve.

This post is the next in an ongoing series of Challenges that I’m using to learn more about my digital camera and, more broadly, the world of photography.  The topic was randomly selected (with eyes closed) from a pile of photographic magazines.

It was an interesting choice, given my recent post on the constructions of Rosalie Gascoigne and Ralph Balson.  A photographic panorama is stitched together by joining multiple images that have overlapping fields of view.  It is a construction.  The difference is that, where Rosalie and Ralph were hands-on producing their works, most photographers these days use computer software.

This Challenge threw up the intended lessons and a couple of unexpected ones.  One of the intended lessons did not go so well.

Hysterical histograms

According to the instructions, I should master the histogram.  I did not.

Apparently, the photographer should refer to each image’s histogram while in the field in order to create a good quality panorama.  The aim is to adjust the shutter speed for each shot if required, thereby ensuring a consistent exposure in the final product.  I found the histogram in the camera’s display, but it’s still a mystery to me.

Unscrewing rotations

Unexpected lesson number one demonstrates just how much of a learner I am.  When rotating the head of the tripod, rotate it.  Don’t unscrew it.  I’d been wondering recently why it was getting wobbly and thought I must have bought a dodgy one.  Fixed.

Test driving

Rather than fumbling about in a field somewhere, exposed to the experienced eyes of passer-bys, the first test drive occurred in the solitude of my lounge room.  The tripod includes a dial that shows number of degrees through which the camera has been rotated.  Using a 50mm lens, some overlap was created by rotating only 15 degrees between shots.  Importantly, it is also easy to remember because they are nicely marked on the dial.

The next step didn’t work.  I suspect that the software’s photomerge / panorama function requires an horizon in order to decide where to put everything.  There was no horizon in my lounge room.

Auto Photomerge Panorama

So I tried building an image by hand.  This was only practical, given my inexperience, because of the vertical lines.  I’m happy enough with the result.

Manual Photomerge panorama


Carting releases

This morning, I headed 40kms up the Barton Highway shortly before the sun rose.  Parked safely.  Carrying camera and tripod, I walked the 30m or so to the spot I’d selected.  Set up.

Unexpected lesson number two …  walked back to the car to get the forgotten shutter release.  Decided to take the camera bag with me just in case there was anything else I needed.  When carting the tripod around, cart the camera bag as well.

Assembling the final image

Ten shots were merged into the final image, this time successfully using photomerge / panorama.  I cropped some unwanted bits from either end.  Apparently, the final image is 732cm by 84cm.  It weighs in at 20.3 MB, and has a pixel measurement of 20,755 x 2,390.

By necessity, it has been drastically reduced for display on the internet.

I’m happy enough with the result, as a first attempt.

From Barton Highway, near Gounyan Road.
From Barton Highway, near Gounyan Road.

For those who think you’ve spotted a poorly executed stitching line on the left, I’m afraid you’re mistaken as that strange vertical line appears in the landscape and shows up in the original image …

Shot 1


The test of its panoram-aticness is a comparison with a basic wide angle shot (18mm lens) of (part of) the same scene.  I’ve cropped the photo only at the top and bottom, thereby preserving the width captured by the camera.

18mm lens crop top bottom only


Next in this series of Challenges

Blending Layers“.  Oh dear!





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