Panoramas with RRS Universal Leveling Base

Years ago I dove right in and purchased the BH-55 ballhead with pano clamp and a nodal slide.  I envisioned taking multi-stitch images to increase resolution.  Fastfoward to today: no nodal slide or pano clamp.  In retrospect I still had much more to learn regarding composition and photography in general.  Not that stitching multiple images is difficult, I just needed to hone the basics.  A fellow photo-friend of mine has a tripod with a leveling center column.  Once again I had aspirations of using this, along with the BH-55 and bubble level to pursue multi-stitch images.  Using the shift on my 24 TSE has been fun, and really about a three or four image stitch is all I’ve really been after.

In lieu of buying a new tripod, I found a perfect solution at Really Right Stuff (RRS).  Their equipment may be a little spendy but I have loved every purchase.  Here I discovered the Universal Leveling Base.  I hoped adding this to my outfit would enable me to create multi-image panoramas.  But first a few words about the method I had tried before.

I still have the BH-55 but now just a simple quick release plate instead of the pano clamp.  Like most landscape photographers, I have a bubble level on the hotshoe of the camera.  It was my assumption that once I leveled the camera and loosened the knob on the ballhead to swivel the head horizontally I would get seemless stitching.  Wrong.  Leveling the camera initially did not guarantee a level, seamless alignment of all images.  I would often get a stairstep effect once merged which would be exacerbated depending on the number of images I desired to stitch.  I have since read about using the Cylindrical method for merging the images in tandem with Warp.  There is still some necessity to use this even with the RRS leveling base but there is no severe “stairstepping” to be resolved.  Below are two examples.  Much like the tilt-shift stitches, I shoot in portrait orientation.  Shooting in landscape orientation will lead to very long and narrow panoramas.  This may be the end result you desire but I tend to prefer the 1×2 or 1×3 aspect ratio.   Again, the photos were merged using Cylindrical followed by a little bit of Warp (found under Edit > Transform).

This image is a seven image stitch shot with a 70-200 lens @ XXXmm.  I got a little carried away on this one.  I wanted to include the high point along the right side and get the entirety of the road the snakes through the fields.

Chilly Spring Dawn

This image is a four image stitch shot with a 400mm lens.  A higher vantage can be gained but my car was in the way and I was a bit in a hurry.

Pond in Field

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