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Optimal Pano Exposure

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  • Optimal Pano Exposure

    Hi and thanks for the great forum.

    I apologize for some noobness of this question- It may well be simple but..... then again

    I am working on creating some HDR pano's and typically shoot on a sunny day with some decent cloud overcast for contrast.

    Shooting in full manual mode and striving for a 3 bracketed exposure of -2, 0, +2 I typically lock aperture at F8 with ISO 100 and then adjust the shutter speed as needed. For instance 1/250 for normal exposure and then 1/60 and 1/1000 keeping consistent through all the bracketed sets of the pano.

    I apologize for a lengthy intro but here is my question:

    How do I determine the best shutter speed for the panoramic as a whole? Do I base it on the brightest point (sun) and adjust or rather the darkest point or somewhere in between?
    I did do a test the other day using the sun as the reference point with shutter speed at 1/500 and then continued on through with 1/125 and 1/2000 - the next set was done at 1/60 with 1/15 and 1/250 as the spread.
    Is there a difference or has someone a trick of the trade for optimal starting point?

    Again thank you!

  • #2
    Re: Optimal Pano Exposure

    My guess- mid range between the brightest and darkest spots....


    • #3
      Re: Optimal Pano Exposure

      Hi Vibes,

      Did you already place this question in another forum as well and it was answered? Anyway. May be I am wrong.

      Would be nice to know about your equipment.

      What I do, I place my equipment on the place I want to shoot. To make a decision about right exposure, I set the camera to "A" mode and turn around, while watching the display to get to know what the camera reads. Then, in sunny conditions like yours, you might get a 1500 in sun to 100 in dark areas. Then you take the decision, lets say 250, and set this as middle for bracketing. You should avoid burning out "lights", because you can not restore a white afterwards.
      This will tend to go to gray. But in darker areas in most of the times you find something to work on in Raw or Photoshop.

      You may use your histogram to get to know about your exposure. Try to take it as close to the right as possible, which will help you to get details in the dark, but avoid peaks.

      If you want to go beyond your camera control in bracketing, you might use Promote control. Not too cheap, but helps a lot.



      • #4
        Re: Optimal Pano Exposure


        May be you like this, though it comes out of 2005, a lot of principles are the same since years. The way and possibilities to do it changed.

        Walking through this site you might find a lot of basic information.



        • #5
          Re: Optimal Pano Exposure


          Thank you very much!
          My camera for the moment is far from being like the ones used here I have a Canon Powershot SX10 IS using CHDK firmware override. I am in the works of getting the Canon 5D

          Anyway, thank you for the information. I did go out the other night and shoot a full pano in sunny lighting conditions with the center shutter speed at 1/250, F8, ISO 100 using CHDK script to get my 36 bracketed shots plus the nadir and zenith- with upper and lower limits of 1/60 and 1/1000 with all but the shutter speed being fixed.

          I so much appreciate the help- I am long time 3D artist just striving to work into the photography.


          • #6
            Re: Optimal Pano Exposure

            Thanks for all the tips and suggestions- Here is what I ended up with.


            • #7
              Re: Optimal Pano Exposure

              Looks quite good for your first shot.

              Highlight in the sun is a little bit burned out.

              What workflow did you use?

              Concerning the highlights in combination with sun, you seem to have taken one of the thinner clouds. Sometimes you can avoid to high dynamic range by moving your tripod to a place where the sun is placed behind a thicker cloud or is covered 50% by the bigger one. Or wait till the clouds have moved to the right position.

              Nice position you choose, I like the curved front lines . But you loose details in the valley which is formed nearer to the fence. The front seems to raise till you meet the third pole. This might be another good shooting point to get a better view down in the valley. But this of course would be another composition.

              Anyway, I like what you did with your equipment.



              • #8
                Re: Optimal Pano Exposure


                I just dared to take your panorama through photoshop. Just some very quick changings. Beyond from being perfect. Just an impressions of what might be done in afterworks. :



                • #9
                  Re: Optimal Pano Exposure


                  Thanks for the suggestions and input- very helpful. i think I will go back and take a series of shots from the fence line or beyond next time to capture the valley more.
                  The workflow - taking the 36 images into PTGui and stitching to create an HDR - I then used Photomatix to slightly tonemap and play with the exposure.

                  I am excited because later this week or first of next I am ordering the Nodal Ninja 5 w/ RD16 Rotator and then the Canon 5D soon to follow.


                  • #10
                    Re: Optimal Pano Exposure


                    can you see the smile on my face seeing you taking panos with NN5 RD16? And the new Canon camera? Is it a 5D or 5D MKII? What lens? May be I can work out some things for you to get you on your way as quick as possible.

                    If you have some money left, do not forget to order the EZ-Leveller II. Though I tried hard, till now I am not able to level the tripod with my two hands and move my foot, holding a small round mirror, raising my leg to see the bubble. :-\

                    So first of all, I level my tripod, with its own bubble, and then I use my mirror and the EZ-Leveller II to center the bubble of the NN5. Helps me to be more precise cause I can not see the bubble once the camera is mounted exactly as a nadir view. You will be surprised about the differences.

                    I use PTGui, Photomatrix Pro as well, plus Photoshop, so, if there is a question, feel free to ask.



                    • #11
                      Re: Optimal Pano Exposure

                      Heinz -

                      Thanks for all your suggestion and help.
                      I did not plan on getting the EZ-Leveller II until reading you post and looking at the product more.
                      So.. this weekend I am placing an order for the NN5 RD16 w/ EZ-Leveller II

                      I will probably end up with the Canon 7D as I can get a better deal but wondering what lens you might recommend? I want a good fisheye to limit the amount of shot for a panorama- I know anything now will be better than my Canon Powershot SX10
                      I do not mind taking many images for a scene- image shown in this post was a total of 108 bracketed images -2, 0, +2 - you can imagine with the Powershot the slow shutter speed in taking the images. Luckily the wind was not blowing much and the clouds and scenery lined up well.
                      I am thrilled to be getting some pro equipment and really think the quality will go up quite a bit!

                      Again thanks!