I’ve just come back from an impromptu holiday in Toulouse and was able to take panoramas of a few of the historic and beautiful churches there. In particular, I was able to spend some time in Notre-Dame du Taur (panorama) and Notre-Dame de la Daurade. I did manage a pano in the Cathedral St Etienne in the Chapel of St Joseph as shown above. The full panorama can been seen at 360Cities.
A particular challenge taking panoramas in churches is capturing the beauty of the stained glass windows. In general, it is difficult to get a photo that shows the richness of their colours yet still allowing the interior of the church to be seen since the contrast range is tremendous. It is especially hard when they are part of a full panorama. This can be overcome with a lots of patience and work in post-processing, I have developed an exposure blending technique that avoids the heavily processed “HDR look” yet preserves the intensity of light stream through the stained glass windows. The example here shows the South Chapel of Notre-Dame du Taur. This is especially important in dark churches where the windows would otherwise be white if the photo was exposed for the rest of the church.
I was pleased to see that my recent pano of York Minster was selected as an Editor’s Pick on 360Cities. The picture on the left is a stereographic projection of the equirectangular panorama taken underneath the Quire Screen.
I had the pleasure of visiting York for several days and was able to take a few panoramas of the Minster. Tourist entry is £10 (or £15 which includes a visit to the Tower), it costs a lot of money to maintain such a large and historic building so this entry charge is not so unreasonable. Rather progressively, there are no prohibitions on photography or tripods (as long it’s not for commercial use and your tripod won’t damage the floor). For a panographer, this was a great opportunity and well worth the visit.
The main challenge, as is common to churches, is the huge contrast between the darkest shadows and the brightly lit windows. Doing HDR capture is the surefooted, though laborious default procedure. Often HDR and tonemapping gives impressionistic results, derogatively called the “HDR-look”. It isn’t the fault of HDR capture per se but rather the tonemapping settings that are usually to blame for garish results.
Alternatively with some judicious bracketing of just the relevant areas, one can produce decent results by exposure blending the shadow and highlights. This is what I have done here, using a moderate amount of exposure compensation on the brightly lit East and West ends of the Minster to retain some detail that would otherwise have been washed out.
Two more panos from York were selected as Editor’s Picks at 360Cities. The first one was taken in the Chapter House of the Minster. The second was taken outside next to the Minster and the Roman Column.
I have been going through some old unstitched panoramas. I thought it would be a good opportunity to test other panorama presentation methods and came across Round.me. Here is a panorama taken in King’s College Chapel nearly 5 years ago. The quality isn’t as good as my current set-up but still produces a workable image.
It’s been good to revisit old panoramas, not only has the equipment changed but also my technique, continually improving my methods and workflow to obtain better results, or the ability to shoot in more challenging conditions.
Getty Images are now licencing panoramas from 360Cities. I am pleased that my panorama of the London Eye was one of the first batch to be vetted for Getty. The original pano can be seen on 360Cities. Also available are panos of Melbourne here and here.
You can search for my images here.
I received some pleasant news today, I have been chosen to be one of the featured photographers on 360Cities.net this month: “Daniel is based in Glasgow (Scotland). He started with B&W film photography but then moved to digital and panoramic photography. Check out his more than 200 wonderful panoramas for careful exposure and composition. High quality with visual impact.”
Prints of my panoramas are available, contact me for pricing. They are available in a variety of sizes and can be printed on photographic paper or canvas. Panoramas can also be licensed through 360Cities.
This panorama posed a few challenges. Shooting directly into the Sun is difficult in any case but I bracketed several shots to try to preserve detail both in the sky as well as the sea. The lens coatings have controlled the flare with only a small loss of the sharpness. I also had to be careful not to fall into the water when taking shots all around. Shadows are more difficult to control. Shots from different positions are used to cover up occluded areas. These were inserted directly into the panorama project. I timed my a shot to capture the fisherman casting his line.
My latest panorama was taken in the Lady Chapel of Liverpool Cathedral. Compared with the main part of the building, the Lady Chapel is more elaborate and has a wider palette of colours. The stained glass gives a blue tinge to the altar area whilst the red stone provides contrast.
The dynamic range in the scene was captured by bracketing, these were combined into two separate panoramas, one with shadow detail, the other highlights, that were then combined using exposure fusion. I find this results in a more naturalistic presentation than HDR+Tonemapping, especially with the local contrast adaptation boosted to 11.
Both cathedrals in Liverpool (Anglican and Catholic) are fairly modern being constructed in the 20th Century but offer highly divergent architectural styles. The Lady Chapel represents the more traditional end of the spectrum.
The Kelpies is a sculpture by Andy Scott and is situated in the Helix Project in Falkirk. I was fortunate to catch them on a reasonably cloudless day, though some cloud cover on the horizon spoiled a promising sunset.
The site is a bit awkwardly located, there is a motorway on one side and powerlines on the other so finding a direction to avoid these background distractions is challenging. For a spherical panorama, the only thing you can do is pick a position that hides any unsightly views and accentuates elements of interest.
Here, I chose a spot in between the two massive horse heads next to the canal lock. There were some rays of the setting sun to outline one head and bath the other in a warm glow.
Unfortunately I won’t be around for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow but I have seen the buildup around the city including this sculpture appearing in George Square. It is a popular site for tourists to snap a photo in front of, so I had to pick my timing to avoid a crowd in order to take a pano.
My pano of the Cantilupe Chantry in Lincoln Cathedral was made an Editor’s Pick at 360Cities.net. The sculpture featured in the chantry is by Aidan Hart.
Technical details (for those who care about such things): NEX-7 + 8mm/2.8 Samyang Fisheye. Shot at f/5.6 ISO100, various shutter speeds using my battered by trusty Nodal Ninja 3 panohead. I took a standard set of exposures as well as some at -3EV to capture the stained glass.
The raw files were imported into Lightroom and exported as TIFs for assembly in Hugin. After assembly, I produced three sets of complete panos each optimised for shadow, mid and highlight detail. I ran these through Enfuse to produce an exposure blended photo after which some minor tweaking was done to the brightness curve, colours, and sharpness.