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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.
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. Whether it’s using more elaborate techniques like shift lenses or using your tripod to make rotational panoramas, 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 dependant 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 wave 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.
Shifted panoramas – The shifted panorama is another way of producing compelling results and another method I use all the time. Using shifted lenses, like my beloved adapted Olympus 35mm f2.8 Shift, produces no nonsense and simple panoramas by taking just two images, one for the left and one for the right. Its just a simple job to put them together in Photoshop, as long as there are no parallax errors (but that is a different article in itself) This shot of waves at Mansands in Devon was the result of careful timing, the left shot and right shot were put together from two separate waves receding around ten seconds apart, but you wouldn’t know to look at it.
The same shot or two shots? Using the shift lens method, by waiting for a next wave, the left half of the image is from one image, the right hands side around ten seconds later.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Shifted Panoramas – Shift lenses are get very popular these days. As a long time user I just cant be without my 24mm TS-E MkII and the older Olympus 35mm f/2.8 Shift.
- Set the camera on the tripod (which doesn’t have to be leveled at all)
- Using the spirit hot shoe level, level the camera on the tripod head.
- Now shift the lens to the far left, (around 10-12mm) locking the tripod head in place.
- Shift to the far right. Check the entire scene through the viewfinder as you shift to ensure the composition is correct. Make any adjustments to the camera position to get a pleasing image. Set you metering with the lens unshifted (as the camera becomes totally confused by a shifted lens)
- Again, wait for the right moment, take your shot and then shift right, take another.
A massive 180 degree panorama, comprising of 15 images put together in PTGui for seemless results. Again it’s a ridiculous 135Mp.
Words and images by David Clapp.
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