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Category: Landscape and Travel

Coastal Panoramas - David Clapp shows us how we can take that view from the top of a cliff home.

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Words and images by David Clapp.

Standing on a cliff top surveying a gorgeous vista, can lift your spirits as high as the summer breeze. It doesn’t take much effort to sit still for half an hour listening to the gentle sounds of lazy waves, distant boats and calling sea birds and forget all about why you were there – to photograph a coastal panorama.

Coastal cliff top scenes or images shot from the shoreline can add that real something else to your portfolio. Today’s software is very capable of helping you achieve your vision, so why not give it a go now the evenings are long.

For me personally I use both rotational and shifted methods to capture panoramas, but it is first worth mentioning that the choice is also dependent on where you are and the type of shot you want to achieve. Panoramas are actually simple to make and be very easy to put together, but as waves are constantly wash in an out, it is movement that can be the biggest problem.

Rotational Panoramas ­– We have all heard photographers bragging about their latest 1.5Gb panoramic masterpiece, but literally pointless to shoot a scene that large unless there is some specialist reason. Rotational panoramas will create bigger files for sure, but the reason to make one is usually to because of the size of the scene. This panorama taken last weekend at Port Issac in Cornwall is the result of nine images stitched together in vertical orientation. I used a Canon 5Dmk2 and a 24mm TS-E mk2 lens, expensive kit for sure, but with megapixels galore on most modern cameras you could get very similar results with modest kit.

Cornwall Port Isaac
Made from seven shots using a 24mm TSEMkII and the rotational panorama method. The camera is put into portrait orientation on a level tripod, a few feet from the cliff edge. The lens is then shifted downwards to place the horizon and keep the building verticals straight. Then seven shots are take 10-15 degrees apart. This is around 120mp.

Rotational panoramas – Many people believe they need specialist tripod heads and other tools, but for a simple cliff top vista, all you need is a correctly leveled tripod and a spirit bubble hot shoe level.
  1. Ensure the tripod is set on sturdy ground. Alter the leg length for comfort alter the length for a second time using the tripods spirit bubble (most have these built in), so that the tripod head will rotate on a horizontal plane.
  2. Attach the camera with lens in either landscape or portrait orientation (depending on your view and the overall size you want you panorama to be). Insert the hot shoe level and ensure the camera is also level.
  3. Now look at the scene you are trying to capture, ensure a start and end point for you stitch. Most tripod heads now have degree measurements, so look to take images between 10-15degs. This will cause the software far less problems. Its better to overshoot.
  4. Ensure the scene hasn’t got a speeding boat, or the white line left from the wake that could occur in more than one image, as this sure to ruin it.
  5. Quickly shoot the entire scene, taking accurate movement, using a cable release, so that one out of the seven images isn’t soft, ruined by clumsiness.

Rotational panoramas can cause problems, so leave plenty of overlap and make sure you shoot a little wider than necessary as the stitching process can often leave the end result requiring some cropping.

A massive 180 degree panorama, comprising of 15 images put together in PTGui for seamless results. Again it’s a ridiculous 135Mp.

Words and images by David Clapp.

Find the tripod to suit your needs at www.manfrotto.co.uk.

Don't forget to enter our exclusive competition where you can win one of six Manfrotto 190XPROB tripods!

You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.

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