Andrew Stranovsky Photography | Lofoten Scenes: Panoramic Hiltop Views
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Lofoten Scenes: Panoramic Hiltop Views

April 21, 2017

One of my goals this trip was to plan for at least a few panoramic shots when the opportunity presented itself.  With good vantage points and sprawling Arctic landscapes, I planned out my first attempts at capturing frames for some panoramic development when I returned.

I've seen plenty of panoramic shots, but never really understood what went into developing them.  I figured that people were getting really wide angle lenses and getting everything in one shot.  Evidently not the case, as I started to learn.  I got an eye opening lesson at post processing during my last trip, and learned a lot from the people I was traveling with.  Plan out your shots from left to right, and use the various options out there to develop and stitch together the frames into one large shot.

Well the plan was good, but unfortunately I didn't really remember when I had actually attempted to take panoramic frames after I got back.  Going through the thousands of garbage shots I took, I eventually started with the three above as my first attempt at stitching something together.  It was an early morning overview of the fishing village of Reine.  After hiking up a hill to get a better vantage point, we were rewarded with one of the better sunrises we had on the trip.  Tripod was set up, and I started "spraying and praying" hoping I would get something good.  Only thing I had really remembered from others who were more experienced with this was to shoot from left to right, and try to overlap frames by about 30-50% for easier stitching during post processing.  Ideally, I would have liked to shoot more frames in the portrait orientation, but I didn't have an L plate with me for this trip.

Early mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.Early mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.Hiked up a hill to catch an overview of Reine Village and harbor during a sunrise.

After making a few edits on the three frames in Lightroom to sync the light and colors, I exported all three frames to PTGui and stitched them together.  After a few attempts at stitching, I exported the final PSD to Photoshop and finished editing.  I was pretty happy with my resulting first panoramic (click for a larger view).

Another suggestion by the photographers this trip was to do vertical panoramics when trying to capture more of the foreground with your main subject in the background.  Still working on my earlier pics from the trip, I tried doing a vertical stitch with the above pics.  I liked the view of the mountain in the distance during a snowy morning blue hour, but wanted to get more of the houses in the foreground.

Snowy mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, NorwaySnowy mornings in Reine, Lofoten Islands, NorwaySnow was coming down pretty hard as the town of Reine began to wake up.

While I'm somewhat happy with the stitch, I think the shot could have been much better with less massive snowstorm and better light (click for a larger version).

Workflow:

  1. I did some basic balancing edits in Lightroom on the individual frames
  2. Exported the shots as 16 bit TIFF files into PTGui
  3. Tried a few different auto stitch options in PTGui, then ran the "optimize" option to get the error pixels down to "very good".  Computers are smarter than me, so if mine tells me I'm very good, I listen.
  4. Exported the stitch to a 16 bit PSD file into Photoshop
  5. Didn't save my stitch, so I redid steps 2-3 about 4 times before finally getting a stitch that I liked.
  6. Final crops and edits in Photoshop.
  7. I'll save the final PSD, as well as the three RAW files.  Next time I'll save the side text file for the stitch so I can reduce my rework stitching time.

As always, questions critiques and comments are always welcome.

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