Panoramic landscape photography to me is one of the best photographic techniques, as it allows you to capture your surroundings. Being able to photograph a series of images that display the entire field of view in front of you and put those together into a single image is what photography should be all about. The ability to take a piece of your travels with you, as accurately and wholly represented as possible.
In this blog post, I will show you the way in which I photograph panoramic landscapes. The great thing about being able to travel and live in Southern Africa is the spectacular views and landscapes on offer throughout. Even when traveling for different purposes, such as to a game reserve for wildlife photography the landscape photography opportunities are still endless. When you can combine both, you have captured the true essence of your travels. A few examples of panoramic photographs I have captured in the Etosha National Park that combines the endless, vast beauty of the Etosha National Park as well as wildlife are shown below.
How to shoot panoramics
The best way to capture panoramic shots is to switch your camera to manual mode (M), this way you are able to control both your shutter speed and aperture to ensure even exposures throughout the images. This will especially be important if the scene that you are capturing has varying brightness to avoid your camera choosing a different shutter speed/aperture for the separate images. You can then set up your shot by doing a couple of test shots, ensuring that you have your focal point and exposure correct. The great thing about adding a focus point to your panoramic, such as wildlife, is that you can have a wide view image but with a shallow depth of field.
Looking at the above two images, you can see that the Springbok panoramic has a large depth of field as the entire scene is in focus. The Zebra panoramic on the other hand has a shallow depth of field as only the Zebra is in focus, and the background slightly blurred. Playing around with the effect will give you varied images in your portfolio as well as allowing you to be more creative.
To get the best resolution from your panoramic, it’s best to shoot the series of photographs in vertical as opposed to horizontal. This way you capture more of the image at the top and bottom, but can still take as many images in the series of the panoramic as you want to get the wide view. Doing so also lets you crop more in Lightroom as you have more pixels to play with.
If you have a tripod that can be used, it would be best to do so as you will be able to keep your angle and level the same throughout all of the photos. Doing so will ensure that your photos align best when stitching the photos together in Lightroom/Photoshop and the least amount of wastage occurs, or running the risk of losing the panoramic completely! If shooting handheld (as I do mostly) then use the grid view in your viewfinder to see where your focus point from the start position is to be able to keep that same level pane throughout. Tripods will come in handy mostly when doing landscape panoramic photography as you have more time to set up and ensure that everything is aligned, in comparison to wildlife photography where the animal may move off and give you less time.
The above landscape panoramic was also taken in the Etosha National Park during the month of December, which is Namibia’s rainy season. As a result there was a lot of dramatic and stormy clouds around that contrasts so well with the arid foreground, deprived of rainfall over the winter months. This panoramic is a composition of 7 individual photographs stitched together in Lightroom, having used the Canon 24mm 2.8 at F8, which can be found here.
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