Something new to try: Panoramas !

Many landscape photographers like to create panoramic pictures – compositions that are wider in shape than the physical frame of their camera’s sensor. It’s a great way of getting a better photo of an interesting view – but while panoramas are relatively easy to create with today’s cameras and software, they’re not all that easy to perfect. In fact, they’re easy to get wrong. Try out some of these tips though and you’ll soon be on the right track.

Using a panoramic framing can make sense of some scenes that would seem empty in a regular format. © Kingsley Singleton

How should you plan your panoramas?

Good panoramas take skill to achieve, and a big part of that is thinking outside of the viewfinder. Basically, many panoramic landscapes shouldn’t be panoramas at all. The wider framing makes them less interesting and weaker than with a regular framing. It’s only when you find a scene that deserves a wider format that you should use this technique. 

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Look at the scene you want to capture and work out where it naturally begins and ends – if it’s wider than your camera’s frame allows, then take the panoramic route.

Panoramas can help bring out tiny details in the landscape, especially when shooting with longer lenses. © Kingsley Singleton

What makes a good panorama?

Landscapes and city scenes need heart and balance – basically good composition – and this is just as true in panoramas as it is with regular images. The scene needs to read naturally from one end to the other, and pick out the most interesting parts of the location in a considered way. Deep scenes – those which scan from bottom to top – don’t tend to be suitable, unless you’re making your panorama vertical. 

Some scenes that wouldn’t work with a regular framing are perfect for panoramas. © Kingsley Singleton

How wide is too wide for a panorama?

Most good landscapes replicate what you can see with your own eyes, and so while it’s possible to make a 360º panorama, these views are too wide to have more than dizzying effect on the viewer. They’re unedited and therefore shouldn’t be considered proper compositions. 

Try to work with framing that’s no wider than 3:1, and often less so. Look to Hollywood movies, where even very widest films in history didn’t exceed 3:1. The Ultra Panavision format of 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty came pretty close at 2.76:1 – but most of the time it’s 2.35:1 or 16:9. 

Panoramas, while wider than a regular frame by definition, shouldn’t go too wide. The thinner the frame, the more difficult the image will be to balance. © Kingsley Singleton

How many frames will you need? 

Most of the time, panoramas are created by shooting and stitching separate exposures together in software. To work out how many you need, frame up one end of the panorama and then slowly turn through your chosen scene until you reach the end. Overlap the images by about 1/3 and you’ll have the number you need. 

If you’re framing horizontally with a camera that has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, like most DSLRs, you’ll probably need no more than two frames. If you’re shooting vertically, it might be more like 4 or 5.

Depending on whether your original frames are horizontal or vertical, you may need between two and five for a panorama. © Kingsley Singleton

How does panoramic composition work? 

Even though the frame is wider, traditional ways of balancing the composition can still apply. For instance, splitting the frame into thirds, or using the golden section and placing points of interest in those places still works, as do lead-in lines.

Panoramas can also function without the same need for foreground interest as regular wide-angle landscapes – in fact in these thinner frames there’s often no room for it at all – and this is actually a benefit when it comes to controlling parallax errors – points where the perspective changes between foreground and background which makes stitching difficult. So long as you create a balanced composition that leads the eye in to settle on the distant view, or a strong subject you’ll have no problems.

Symmetry can also work in panoramas. And there’s nothing to stop you from placing subjects centrally in a wider view so long as it makes visual sense and this works well for lone trees or isolated buildings. 

Placing your subject off-centre works just as well for panoramas as it does for regular framing. © Kingsley Singleton

What features on a camera can help with panoramas? 

Taking the multiple frame route out of the equation for a moment, many cameras now feature a ‘sweep panorama’ mode, including lots of models from Sony, Fujifilm and Nikon. Herein the camera is simply panned during an exposure and its processor creates an elongated image. This is a quick route and can give great results, but often the manual system of shooting and stitching separate files is more successful.

High-resolution sensors, like those in Fujifilm’s GFX System, Sony’s A7R IV, Nikon’s D850 or Z 7 and Canon’s EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R, have enough pixels to make cropping a panoramic shape out of a regular frame easy and still leave you with a large image. The GFX System even has a 16:9 and 65:24 aspect ratio to let you shoot in a panoramic format.

Fujifilm’s GFX Series include panoramic aspect ratios that crop the sensor’s output and let you shoot wider frames with ease.

What are the best lenses to use for panoramas? 

One of the most common problems in making panoramas comes from using very wide angle lenses. Because of their field of view and the perspective it creates, these lenses are difficult to turn through a panorama without creating parallax errors which will disrupt the stitching process. The barrel distortion common to very wide angle lenses can also be noticeable in finished panoramas as undulating lines.

Instead, try using focal lengths like 24mm, 28mm, 35mm or even longer like 50mm and beyond. You may need to shoot more frames, but they’ll be easier to stitch. 

Tilt-shift lenses like Canon’s  TS-E 24 mm f/3.5L or Nikon’s PC NIKKOR 19mm f/4E ED are very useful tools for making panoramas, too. Thanks to the larger image circle they generate, they can be ‘shifted’ horizontally or vertically without causing distortions or parallax errors, and the frames then stitched to make a wider composition later in software. 

If you avoid the widest lenses you’ll have fewer problems with distortion, while tilt-shift lenses are also a great option for panoramas.

How can you get better exposures in your panoramas? 

The wider the view, the more likely it is that light levels will change dramatically across your panorama. You could have shade at one end of the scene and bright sun at the other. For this reason, make sure you shoot in Raw format, which will give you a better chance of controlling the tones in editing. 

Taking an average exposure from the whole of the scene and dialling this in manually can also help, making sure the pictures aren’t too much lighter or darker than one another.

If you’re using ND grad filters to hold back a brighter sky, make sure you’re shooting from a level position, because as you turn through the panorama any tilt will soon become obvious. 

Shoot in Raw format and you’ll be able to control the highlights and shadows across the scene more easily. © Kingsley Singleton

How do you make panoramas more interesting?  

Once you’re comfortable with the basics of shooting a panorama, it could be time to take things one step further. For instance, try combining multiple photographic techniques along with your panoramic frames, like HDR or focus stacking. You can also experiment with more elaborate setups like day-to-night panoramas, where you shoot the same turn multiple times between dawn and dusk and merge the results later to show the passing of time. 

A day-to-night panorama. These images take several hours to complete, so are best shot from a harbour-side bar. © Kingsley Singleton

Article and photography produced by Kingsley Singleton. Thank you.

Every photographer should try panorama once in a while. Here is my own take:

Panorama photo of the Wasatch Back, Heber City, Utah. Photo by Lanny Cottrell / 123PhotoGo.

New Interesting photos:

There are photographers who often just run into, or create their own, real interesting photos. Here are just a few recent ones:

Landscape photographers are crazy about lighting, patiently waiting for the right moment to capture scenery in all its full glory. Award winning landscape photographer Albert Dros captured this amazing image of the mountains in Kyrgyzstan, where the lighting was just splendid:

“Glowing Ala-Archa mountains in Kyrgyzstan” by Albert Dros

While the lighting amidst the mountains and clouds is beautiful, the eagle circling the rugged peaks adds further interest to the photo. The giant bird of prey provides scale that demonstrates the majesty of the mountains.

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A photographer’s skill plays the biggest role in determining how good an image turns out. But having a little luck on your side can help. Take, for instance, the following image that photographer Chaibhav took from Rattlesnake Lake, Washington. Although he was out there to photograph the Milky Way, he got to capture a shot that is definitely one in a million:

“An Exploding Meteor” by Coty Spence (Via Reddit. Click image to see full size.)

He shot the image using a Nikon Z6 and a 20mm f/1.8G lens at f/1.8, 15s and ISO 1250. He was shooting a timelapse of the Milky Way when this bolide from the Perseids meteor shower made its way into the shot. And, boy, is it spectacular or what?

“This is one image from a series of 300+ images I took of the Milky Way for a time-lapse. I believe this was one of the last 5 frames and so I got really lucky.”

What really makes this image special is the fact that the meteor appears to be split in half while being burnt up in the earth’s atmosphere. This is why you can notice the two-headed structure on the right. And the intensity with which it is burning up must’ve been phenomenal. It’s so bright that you will be forgiven for missing the Milky Way entirely—the original subject of the image, toward the right.

The photographer was indeed very lucky to have been able to capture this shot. Had you witnessed this shooting star, would you have prayed for one wish or two?

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Nature can surprise us in many ways. Take the following image, for instance. Australian photographer Matt Burgess took a photo of a wave that looks like a swan, and it’s absolutely amazing:

Swan in an Ocean Wave (Via Reddit. Click image to see full size.)

It’s not just the overall shape of the wave that looks like a swan but also the textures and details that remind us of the beautiful creature. Not to mention the wonderful lighting from the sun and the cloudy sky that adds further drama to the image.

Mother Nature really is amazing, isn’t she?

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Remember that squirrel photobomb picture that went viral a few years back? The one where the curious little guy jumped in front of the camera of a camera in Banff National Park? Well this isn’t it. But, this perfectly timed photo of two squirrels playing is just as cute and funny. It looks like one of the squirrels is using magic—or some kind of Force-like power—on the other one! Don’t mess with this guy:

Two squirrels have magic power battle. By Vadim Trunov. (Via 500px. Click image to see full size.)

Vadim Trunov, the Russian photographer behind this Jedi squirrel photo, has a whole series of really funny and playful images of these curious little animals, including a photo where one squirrel becomes the photographer!

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If you only head out to take landscape photos when the conditions are right, you’ll miss all the diversity that unpredictability can bring. If you put effort into photographing landscapes when the conditions are working against you, there are greater chances that you’ll end up with something much more exciting. For photographers, bad weather can be much more rewarding than a perfect sunny day. However, you’ll need a good deal of perseverance and a little bit of luck on your side. Take, for instance, the following image by photographer Kevin Hasse near Vent in Austria. While some photographers would have ruled out the option of snapping this photo due to the cloudy conditions, he took the chance and the result is truly magnificent:

“Clouds Curling Over a Mountain” by Kevin Hasse (Via Reddit. Click image to see full size.)

The image was taken with a 30-second exposure on Hasse’s Canon 80D with a Tamron 18-200mm lens at f/9 and ISO 100. To be able to take a long exposure during this time of the day, he used an ND1000 filter—a 10 stop neutral density filter.

It’s fantastic how the clouds have perfectly formed a smooth curve around the mountain. The gap frames the rock formation perfectly. Also, the long exposure allowed Hasse to capture the motion of the clouds. The motion blur works perfectly since the clouds act as subtle leading lines to draw viewers right into the image.

Some viewer even see the image as that of a giant whale turning in the water. Do you see it?

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This photograph taken by Masashi Wakui of a rainy street scene in Tokyo is somewhat ethereal. While cityscapes shot from a distance tend to give a broad perspective and those shot from the air givesa birds-eye view, the real action is undoubtedly down at the street level:

A rainy night in Tokyo. (Via Imgur. Click image to see full size.)

Wakui seems to have captured that beautifully in this image of a rain-soaked evening in Tokyo.

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Have you ever come across an image so mesmerizing that you can’t figure out if it’s real or not? This often comes up when a photographer is able to capture a very true beauty in front of the camera. Take for instance the following image taken by photographer Paul Wilson. It’s so well-taken that it’ll definitely make you question reality:

“Magical Nightsky from The Catlins, New Zealand” by Paul Wilson (Via Reddit. Click image to see full size.)

The image is a composite of two frames that Wilson took on two different evenings in The Catlins, New Zealand. He took both of these images using the Canon EOS R camera. For the foreground, he exposed for 0.5 seconds at f/22, ISO 100 with the EF16-35mm f/4 lens at 20mm. And for the sky, he exposed for 150 seconds at f/2.5, ISO 800 with the 105mm Sigma Art lens.

“The large bright spot shining through the moisture in the air is Jupiter, the orange star is Antares in the Scorpius region.”

If no one told you about the image, you’d probably think of it as a scene from some sci-fi movie, or maybe even as an elaborate work on Photoshop. When in reality, it’s just a fantastic composite with no other manipulations. For the finishing touch, Wilson did have to exaggerate the colors captured by the camera that we can’t see with our eyes naturally, of course.

We think the way Wilson has composed this image is perfect. The rocks in the foreground with some interesting patterns set the scene impeccably to make you feel like you’re viewing some alien planet. Also, the way they’re highlighted by the ambient light, forms a subtle leading line drawing our eyes right into the image up towards the magnificent sky.

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Sometimes, there is something so serene about water. When it’s at its calmest, still and quiet, void of passing boats, noise or people. The stillness can wash over you. Here is that feeling captured through photography by reddit user sakelazy. Captured about an hour after sunrise, the photographer took in eight minutes of peace by the water while waiting for this long exposure:

8 Minutes of Peace by sakelazy (Via Imgur. Click image to see full size.)

The photo is breathtaking and does a great job of portraying a feeling of complete peace and calm. It’s almost as if you’re standing on the beach, can you smell the cool air?

Equipment and Settings

  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon 17-40 f/4L at 21mm, f/11, 487 seconds, ISO 100
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest IRND 16-stop Filter
  • Formatt Hitech 105mm Circular Polarizer Filter

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There’s something about ballet dancers that’s absolutely mesmerizing. Their strength along with their grace together adds a sense of beauty to their character that is of an entirely different level. The following image taken by photographer Levente Szabo is an excellent example of this:

“A Ballet Dancer with Scarves” by Levente Szabo (Via Reddit. Click image to see full size.)

The stance that the dancer holds in the image is a testament to her strength. And the motion in the scarves that she’s holding in her hands adds an angelic vibe to her beautiful character. The pose almost makes her look like an artist who’s painting in the space.

Another great thing about this photo is that Szabo was able to freeze all of this without using any flash. Shooting near a large window did the trick. The excellent choice of colors is another factor that makes the image so noteworthy. While blue dominates the image, the dancer’s warm skin tone and the purple scarf stand out beautifully.

Excellent job by the photographer in capturing this dancer’s strength and the grace.

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This photo takes long exposure to the next level. Photographer Kevin Paschal expertly captures stars in the sky, movement in the water, and the lights from a radio-controlled (RC) plane doing tricks over the water. Paschal flies RC planes as a hobby and has incorporated it into his photography. There are LED lights on the wing tips and the plane was doing a maneuver called a rolling harrier, which is rolling the plane while maintaining its level:

“RC Light Painting” by Kevin Paschal (Via Imgur. Click image to see full size.)

The photo was taken in Malibu, California. Paschal does a lot of light painting and long exposures so the majority of his portfolio was taken at night and uses a lot of creative lights and colors.

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All photos courtesy of Picture/Correct.

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