I know…it’s been a while since I posted something about techniques. Sorry…it’s be a zoo lately 😦
So to make up for lost time, I thought I’d combine several techniques into one image and give you some pointers on all of them. Forgive me now?
The image above combines tilt-shift panoramas, graduated neutral density filters, Lightroom processing, PhotoShop stitching, and Lightroom plugins (specifically Nik Silver Efex Pro).
I have written several posts about this subject. Yes…I do love my tilt-shift lenses. Panoramas with tilt-shift lenses are fairly straight forward. There are many advantages and a few drawbacks. Taking the images to be stitched together could not be easier. Simply shift the lens for each of the three shots. Instead of going into a great amount of detail about this here, I will direct you to a previous post. Other advantages to creating panoramas with TS lenses is that distortion can be virtually eliminated and post-stitch cropping is nearly non-existent.
For this image I used a Canon 45mm f/2.8 TS-E lens mounted on a Canon EOS-1D X. The camera was mounted level on a Manfrotto 055 CXPROB4 tripod with a Kirk BH-1 ball head. I installed a Hoya HRT circular polarizer to help emphasize the clouds (the HRT CPL is a new line of polarizers that reduce light by only 1-1/3 stop instead of the usual 2 stops). The lens was rotated so the shift would be up and down (as opposed to right and left). With the lens in the un-shifted position, I took a test shot in aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f/8. I metered on the hillside below the sky (more on why I did this later). I evaluated the exposure on the resulting image and determined that it was fine (not paying attention to the sky for now). The shutter speed for the test shot was 1/80. The ISO was 100. I then set the camera to manual mode and adjusted the settings to the same as the test shot. I shifted the lens down and took the first shot. I then shifted the lens to the center position and took a shot and finally shifted up and for the third shot (the final two imaged were shot with a graduated neutral density filter).
Graduated Neutral Density Filter (grad ND)
I metered on the hillside rather then the entire scene because I wanted proper exposure on the trees and the old power station. I didn’t care about the sky being over exposed because I was going to use a grad ND filter to help balance out the exposure between the bright sky and the darker land. I used a 2-stop grad ND and only on the un-shifted and shifted up images (the sky was not in the frame on the shifted down image). I used the grad ND hand held as I usually do. Handholding a grad ND is much faster than using a filter holder. All you need is a steady hand.
I use live view for almost everything when my camera is on a tripod. But with grad NDs, live view makes the task of accurately positioning the filter a snap.
After importing the images into Lightroom 4, I applied Develop module settings to the un-shifted image. I then applied the exact same settings to the other two images (using the Sync capability). The images were then exported to a thumb drive.
In PhotoShop Elements 9, I used PhotoMerge Panorama to stitch the three images together. There was minimal cropping required and PSE took care of that easily. From PSE, I saved the resulting image back to the thumb drive.
Back in Lightroom 4 I imported the stitched image from PSE. The image is still in color. It looked fine but I wondered what it would look like in B&W. Many times I convert to B&W in Lightroom and it does a fine job. But this time I used NIK Silver Efex Pro (SEP). Since it’s a plugin to Lightroom all that needs to be done is send it to SEP. Doing this saves a TIFF image back to the Lightroom catalog (this comes in handy for future use … like exporting with watermarks). SEP has some nice presets and it allows finer detail adjustments. I use two control points to further emphasize the clouds in the sky.
Back in Lightroom 4, I exported the final image you see here. What do you think?
Thanks for looking.