A Plan and Coincidence

The Plan:  Last week I planned to shoot sunrise primarily to capture the moon set.  The weather cooperated though it was a little windy.  The location decided upon worked well for this time of year due to the position of the moon.  If photographed later in the summer, the moon would be too far to the right of the frame and even completely outside of the frame come late June when Summer officially arrives.  This position can be attained again in Autumn, but I have not used The Photographers Emphemeris to determined the exact date.

The Coincidence:  With a location decided upon and photographing the moon set the goal, I set out early in the morning.  The convenient coincidence is the path of the Palouse River.  Though the river snakes it way through the scene, one might assume it continues to snake in a similar manner below the bottom of the frame, especially with how the river bends.  However, the path of the river that comes in from the lower left hand side is only there during the early spring run-off.  I revisited previous photos I had taken in Summer and found that portion of the river is indeed dry, all but for a tiny pool.  The river actually runs in from the left side of the frame and makes a 90 degree turn, resulting in the meandering seen here.

Needless to say, I was pleased with the outcome, especially learning of the coincidence of the river flow aiding my pre-planned photographic idea.

Palouse River Moonset, Spring

Technical Details:  This photograph is the result of nine different exposures but 12 total files.  Three of the darkest exposures taken were further decreased by -2 exposure compensation in ACR.  The resulting 12 files were stitched, of which each image was a combination of four images (three HDR images of four files each were used) to capture highlight and shadow detail (4×3).  In short, it is a multi-stitch panorama HDR image.  The resulting stitch worked best as a 4×5 aspect ratio instead of 2×3; I had too much overlap on my panorama images.

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Harvest Panoramas

I have many images that I need to share from this summer and into fall.  In lieu of some narrative, here are a handful of panoramic photos taken during harvest on the Palouse.  All photos are composites using the Really Right Stuff Universal Leveling Clamp (a great tool!).  Lenses range from 24-105mm, 70-200mm, and 400mm.  All photos were taken in portrait orientation and are three stitched photos using Photoshop CS6.

Summer Sunset

Abandoned Home in Sunset Light

Morning Harvest Rain

Harvest Patterns

Fall MorningFog

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