Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tips for Momtographers - big scene, small lens

Huge sunset behind my house


Every once in a while, you'll run across a situation where you really want to capture something huge and beautiful. That might be a sunset, the grand canyon, a redwood tree, or your nosey neighbor's butt.

scratch that.
(the suggestion, not the butt. yuck)

I found myself outside yesterday, with a camera, a beautiful sunset and a lens that wasn't wide enough to capture it all. In fact, the widest of wide lenses that I own, would have never captured the expanse of sky. So, I did the next best thing, I took several photos and stitched them together.

You can do this too! It's easy!

First, I will explain it if you have a DSLR. You need to set your focus on manual (infinity in most situations). You will also need to shoot in full manual, *including color balance*. Your color balance may shift between images making it harder to stitch them together. I forgot that part above and you can slightly tell where my stitching was. It's ok, I'm not hanging it in an art gallery.

Next, stand in one spot and shoot, overlapping your photos a bit until you cover the whole scene. If you are shooting something like a building or a tree, etc, you will find that your image may be distorted as you shoot upwards. Go with it! It'll make a cool shot.

Now, if you have a point and shoot, set it on landscape mode (those are the little mountains). If you have a more advanced P&S then you can set your ISO, shutter speed, etc just like a DSLR. Shoot the same way above.

When you get back, open up your photo editing program. There are programs that will stitch the photo together for you but I just do it by hand since it doesn't take me all too long if I only have 3-4 photos. I will create a new canvas that is much larger than I will need and then I copy/paste the images into the new canvas lining up the overlapping photos. If I notice that there is a slight color difference, I'll create a new layer and then adjust my colors or darken/lighten them until they match.

With the above photo, I could see the line where the images overlapped so I used my eraser tool to soften the sharp overlapping photos. I then popped the saturation a bit, and voila! An image that photographs a sky that is at least 5-6 miles wide! I can't capture that with a 35 mm lens.

If you don't have photoshop, try out Gimp which is a very "photo shop like" free download.

For more Tips for Momtographers - Click here or the tag at the bottom of any momotographer post.

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