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Viking Bay & Pier, Broadstairs at dusk

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I would really appreciate critique on this image. It is my first attempt at a Panaramic shot and I would appreciate any help with both the execution of the original images (7 in all) and also the post production side.
The images were taken at dusk in Viking bay using a 24- 70 zoom set at 30mm for each image. I shot manually and kept the exposure the same for all 7 images. Although I used a tripod and the images began straight (with the pier shot) by the time I reached the middle of the bay the horizion seems to have tilted. I am not sure whther this is the as a result of the image being distorted when combing shots in photstich or the tripod sinking on wet sand?
Post production was done by first coverting from RAW to JPEG in canera raw. The only adjustment in camera raw being slight sharpening which was consitantly applied to all 7 images. THe 7 images were then combined in photostich. Finally they were taken into photoshop. With regard to the post production side I wanted to maintain the maximum height for the image so choose to fill in any white spaces where the images did not perfectley line up rather than crop the top and bottom. I did this using the retancular margue selection tool and then the free transform tool. Have filled the whote space with the most appropriate matching colour I then used teh clone tool to hide ages and more closly tone sections.
As I said this my first attempt and I would really value comments on how well I have done and how to improve future attempts. (I don't own and adapter for my tripod for taking panoramic images and currently dont have a budget to purchase anything.)

Camera:Canon EOS 40D
Lens:Sigma 24-70 f2.8
Recording media:JPEG (digital)
Title:Viking Bay & Pier, Broadstairs at dusk
Username:wicksy wicksy
Uploaded:30 Aug 2010 - 2:44 PM
Tags:Broadstairs, Landscape / travel, Night / low light, Panoramic, Viking bay
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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.
KMRennie
KMRennie  4 Scotland1 Constructive Critique Points
30 Aug 2010 - 2:59 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

I have been experimenting with panoramas for a few months. 2 things I have come to say. Firstly by the width of your panorama it looks to me that you had very little overlap. More overlap gives you smaller dips at the top and bottom of your panorama image and in the end a higher image with no/ little need for filling in the gaps. Secondly your tripod needs to be level left to right and back to front not the camera. If your tripod is not level but you adjust the head to get the camera level then as you pan across you will get the tiliting horizon effect at the end of the shot. The solution that I think will work is a bubble on the tripod legs. I have a tripple bubble level on the camera hot shoe but this is does not work properly with panoramas unless you can get it ligned up at both ends of the panorama and that is fiddly and time consuming. During the last 2 months I have been taking panoramas without a tripod and they have almost all worked very well. I hope that this helps. Ken

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f1reblade99
f1reblade99 e2 Member 829 forum postsf1reblade99 vcard United Kingdom1 Constructive Critique Points
30 Aug 2010 - 3:31 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

hi, for a first attempt it isn't bad but KMR has made a lot of valid points. I don't normally use tripod but generally take 4 or 5 shots with plenty of overlap, making sure the exposure is not changed and that there is plenty of subject matter in the foreground and background. I also merge the pictures when they are still raw files in photo shop, which still gives you control afterwards before you convert to a Tiff of JPG. I'm by no means perfect but have uploaded a couple on here so have a look in my portfolio and ask anything you like.

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Vpics
Vpics  4 Wales6 Constructive Critique Points
30 Aug 2010 - 5:25 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

Hi Chris,
A good first attempt at a panoramic but as Ken says, the tripod must be perfectly leveled for it to work really well. You can do this without a built in level by swinging the camera through the arc whilst looking through the viewfinder and adjusting the tripod until the horizon line stays level throughout the arc. Also, the overlap is important and you should aim for at least a third of frame overlap for each image. If you are on wet sand, try using some driftwood or similar material under each foot to spread the load and prevent the feet sinking in. Also i would suggest never to use too wide a lens as the inherent distortion of wide angles tends to make the stitch process much more difficult. 30mm equates to 48mm with the crop factor so about right in this case but the closer to telephoto you go, the less distortion you will have.
I have done many panoramics but have never used any proprietry photostitch software and instead use layers in PS to join them. I start with the left hand image and increase the canvas size using the crop tool. Uncheck the "resize to fit window" and set the magnifier for minus and reduce the image until you have a large grey border surrounding the image, use the crop tool for the whole of the picture and then drag it out to the right until you have enough space to accomodate all of your frames, any extra can be cropped off later.
Then i drag each frame into this and by reducing the opacity it's possible to align each frame perfectly with the one beneath it, working left to right, then i use a soft edged erasor to create a random zig zag join between frames to further hide any evidence of a join and avoid straight vertical join lines. When it comes to skies, i reduce the opacity and flow of the erasor to help blend the overlap more subtly.
It can be a lengthy process compared to stitch software but the results are often far superior IMO.
I hope this helps Smile
Regards
Vic.

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paulbroad
paulbroad  782 forum posts United Kingdom875 Constructive Critique Points
30 Aug 2010 - 9:04 PMConstructive Critique!This comment was flagged as constructive critique! 

The trouble with panoramas at this size is that they are difficult to see. It looks to tilt badly from left to right, but otherwise quality is difficult to assess.

You must use a tripod and spirit level to be sure, whatever any other advise, it is the only way. Even then you will not be rotating around the lens nodal point without a specialist pan head meant for panoramas.

However, a good tripod, manual exposure and manual focusing with a spirit level will usually give a very satisfactory result with decent software. If you tilt the camera up or down you will get failures to join correctly.

Paul

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wicksy
wicksy  879 forum posts United Kingdom
31 Aug 2010 - 10:40 AM

Ken, Steve, Vic & Paul thank you all for your really helpful comments. I had not realised that I need a bigger overlap, to be honest I was trying to keep the number of images to a minimum so was making the overlap as small as possible.
I had tried to level the image but again I had not realised the significance of leveling the tripod itself and not just the Head (I too have one of the plastic spirit levels that fit on the top of the camera - But at the moment I don't have any way of leveling the tripod itself so will have try Vic technique of doing it by eye)
I may have another go with this panarama just as a way of practising with the photoshop process Vic describes. Paul I agree about the tilt it tends to go up in the middle and down at either end but overall it does lean quiet badly, I did wonder if part of this was because I probably was not in the centre of the panorama when I took it (howevr this is probably just an excuse for poor execution!)
Again I am really grateful for all your comments - I have good plently to think through before the next attempt. Chris

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