The Perfect Panorama

So we know that the iPhone can take panoramic shots now. Yep, it’s super easy, you just make that tiny little arrow (oops! you are moving too high!) stay as close to the horizontal line (shoot, now it’s too low…) as you possibly can. That might be all well and good for family reunions or a killer crowd shot at the Rolling Stones concert, but is that really what you are going for? If you have subscribed to this blog (which you most likely have if you are reading this) then you are seeking a better level of panorama. Let us share with you what we know.

Perfect Panorama Rule #1:

First and foremost, and we’ve said it in earlier blogs…tripod, tripod, tripod! Stability in every way is an absolute must when it comes to creating seamless panoramas so start with that great 3-legged foundation.

Perfect Panorama Rule #2:

Shoot vertically, in portrait style. You will have to take a few more shots to cover the entire landscape, but it will create the most seamless and stunning panorama.

Perfect Panorama Rule #3:

This one is SUPER important; change your white balance to cloudy. If you leave it on auto, the balance will change between each picture and then you’ll be looking at a patchwork panorama. Nobody wants that.

Perfect Panorama Rule #4:

For the same reasons as above, set your exposure. See what it is through the viewfinder, switch to manual and then keep it at that same exposure. We don’t want any auto exposure going on and thus changing the image from frame to frame.

Flickr djshanu
Flickr djshanu

Perfect Panorama Rule #5:

Third times a charm. You guessed it, follow the same process for your focus. Once you’ve set your focus, turn off the auto feature so the focus remains the same for each frame.

Perfect Panorama Rule #6:

When capturing each segment, make sure to include at least 15% of the previous frame in the new frame. Having overlap will be important when it comes time to put everything together.

Perfect Panorama Rule #7:

Use a shutter release or a self-timer. We always want our photos to be tack sharp but in this particular instance, having zero camera shake is even more dire because it will be far more noticeable when the frame right next to it is clean and crisp.

Perfect Panorama Rule #8:

Last but definitely not least, HUSTLE!! Move quickly through capturing each frame so clouds or lighting or a new object coming into frame will not create inconsistencies in your image.

That’s it. Super easy and super worth remembering. Your next panorama will be so spectacular, it will make your viewer feel as if he or she were there. Take that iPhone 5!

Lightning and Fog – Two Elusive Muses, Captured

Elusive-Muses-Captured-Lightning_hunty66

When it comes to artistic muses, lightning – with its white hot bursts of power and fog, with its soft, almost ethereal quality, are often found at the top of most photographers’ lists. While capturing these two natural phenomenons can be tricky, they’re not impossible. Here are simple steps and techniques you can use to capture both, faster than Mother Nature can say, “Cheese!”

Lightening – Dramatic, Powerful and Just a Wee Bit Dangerous

A gorgeously captured shot of lightning as it streaks across the sky is downright dramatic. And as we all know, the power behind lightning is a force to be reckoned with, and therefore it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway), that standing outside in the midst of a lightning storm can be dangerous. So, before we tell you how to capture the lightning, here are some safety tips to help prevent the lightning from capturing YOU instead:

  • Photograph at a safe distance from the action
  • Do not stand directly in the rain, under a tree, etc.

Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s move on to the how-to portion. First things first: you’ll need a tripod and a shutter release cable or wireless shutter release. Both are absolutely necessary as they will prevent any and all vibrations from thunder, wind, rain or your shaky hands from blurring the “money” shot.

Next, switch your camera mode to “Bulb” or the “B” setting. This allows your camera’s shutter to remain open for as long as you hold down the shutter button. You’ll also want to use f/8 as a good starting point. (This can be adjusted later, if need be.) Once you’re settings are dialed in, compose your shot by aiming your camera toward the area where the lightning has been most active.

When the see the first lightning strike, press and hold your shutter release cable button down. Then, when you see the second lightning strike, pause for a half-second, then release the shutter….voila! That should do it! Granted, it may take you a few times more to get your timing down exactly right, so don’t get frustrated. Just keep trying and you’ll get it eventually. (The shot that is. Not the actual bolt of lightning itself. Ahem.)

Elusive-Muses-Captured-Fog_acidzebra
Flickr: acidzebra

Fog – Misty, Intriguing and Despised by Light Meters Everywhere

A gentle rolling fog can add an element of mystery, enchantment and perhaps even a touch of “spooky” to your shots – if you can capture it! So what’s a frustrated photographer to do?

Begin by aiming directly at the fog itself while holding the shutter button halfway down. Next, you’ll need to adjust your camera’s Compensation Control (you can find this just behind the shutter button) and increase the exposure by one stop. (You’ll do this by holding down the Compensation Control button while simultaneously turning the Command Dial – the black dial on the back of your camera) until you see the “+1” in your viewfinder.) By doing this, you’re basically telling your camera, “You’re wrong, fog is good and we’re gonna do things my way!” When you’re finished capturing the “misty mornin’ fog”, don’t forget to return your exposure compensation setting back to zero; otherwise the rest of your shots will be overexposed by one stop all day long. (And trust me – that’s pretty frustrating, too.)

And there you have it, folks. Two of nature’s most elusive muses, captured right before your very eyes. Experiment with these two techniques and watch how fast you ramp up the cool factor during your next outdoor shoot!