Recent Panoramas

I’ve just gotten back to taking and making panoramas after a break of several months. Some good weather lately inspired me to go out and try to capture the light.

Rock outcrop, sunset, ocean, castle
Rock outcrop, Castle Sands, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland 30th June 2021. The tidal range here is 4.32m, thus at low tide many rocky outcrops are exposed as the tide goes out. Full panorama can be viewed at 360Cities.
Ocean, castle, pool, waves, sky, clouds, sunset
Tidal pool, Castle Sands, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland 30th June 2021. “The surge in popularity of seaside resorts in the mid-19th century, and the fashionable practice of sea bathing, made St Andrews an attractive tourism destination. The Ladies Pool, today known as the ‘Castle Pool’, was situated on the east side of the Castle ruins with shelters and huts for dressing. The pool was largely abandoned in the 1930s when the larger outdoor Step Rock Pool started to allow both male and female swimmers.” From St Andrews Preservation Trust. Full panorama can be viewed at 360Cities.

The conditions were perfect for landscape photography with high altitude clouds providing texture to the sky, a moderately clear horizon for the setting sun for lovely colours, and not too windy. The waves add texture to the water but do pose a slight challenge to making sure that seams are not too obvious. A small amount of retouching during post-processing was needed to smooth over the most obvious joins.

The main challenge is dealing with the large range of contrast within the whole scene. The dark rocks and seaweed have to be balanced against the sunset and bright sky. Much of this is able to be handled by the dynamic range of the camera, a Sony A7m3 shooting raw, but some additional steps needed to be taken to comfortably cover the extremes in exposure. In addition to the usual shooting pattern of 4 around (spaced at 90 degrees) + Zenith + Nadir, additional shots were made directly at the brightest parts of the sky using autoexposure (as I use for all the shots). This additional shot will have detail in the brightest parts that can be combined with the rest of pano that has detail in the dark and mid tones. Enfuse is used to combine the various exposures into a single image without having to go through the steps of creating an HDR intermediate image and then tonemapping.

I have also delved into the back catalogue of panoramas that were taken but but assembled, in this case ones taken in 2019 and 2020.

Christmas Market, Big Wheel, Glasgow
Glasgow Christmas Market, 19th December 2019
Pollok House West Pavilion
Pollok House West Pavilion 27th September 2020. Full pano can be viewed at 360Cities.
Kelpies, sculpture
Kelpies, Grangemouth, 4th October 2020. Full panorama can be viewed at 360Cities.

These panoramas varied in difficulty. The Christmas Market pano had many extra shots added and masked in to deal with moving objects such as people and the Big Wheel. Exposure blending was also used to tame the contrast. The Pollok House pano did not have to worry to much about moving objects between frames but did have a very large contrast range. This require bracketing and exposure blending to arrive at a  decent image. The Kelpies pano was as staightforward as you could get, a simple 4+Z+N shooting pano, no need for bracketing as the dynamic range of the camera was sufficient, and not even exposure blending was required.

I’ll continue to dive into the back catalogue to see of there are any more unassembled panos waiting for their turn. Hopefully there are some undiscovered gems.