Light is everything in photography and sometimes it’s so good it’ll make you stop the car, grab your camera and jump over hedges to capture it. That’s what happened on Boxing Day two years ago.
I was cresting a hill not far from where I lived and saw the rays of light hitting Chew Valley lake. I know conditions like this don’t last long so I was out of the car and shooting in seconds. I had my 24-70mm f2.8 lens on the camera and no tripod so I worked with what I had. As Photoshop is so good at stitching images into panoramas these days, even hand held ones as long as you’re careful, I went for a nine frame pano to fit the whole scene in.
In this case, careful included keeping my shutter speed up to eliminate motion blur and 1/250th at 70mm is pretty safe. I stopped down to f7.1 so I had decent depth of field. Again, being at 70mm helped with this (the wider you go, the more depth of field you have at any given aperture) as did focusing about a third of the way into the scene. If you want to know more about Hyperfocal Distance, there’s a great post here. Choosing that shutter speed and aperture meant bumping my ISO to 400 to keep the overall exposure right.
Normally when shooting a panorama I’ll hold the camera in portrait orientation as this gives more leeway if you drift vertically as you move left to right but for some reason I forgot on this occasion. Luckily with such a clear horizon I kept level.
The post production side of things was pretty simple. I exported from Lightroom and let Photoshop create the pano in auto mode. Once complete I flattened the image (it reduces the amount of RAM needed and speeds things up massively), cropped it to trim off any white space caused by lens distortion and applied a few adjustment levels to bump the saturation and contrast. Here’s the final image:
I went on to get a couple of copies printed by the fine folks at Pix2Canvas who were able to make a custom sized canvas frame. At 150 x 30cm and nearly 200 megapixels it looks pretty impressive!