In this Masterclass Tom Mackie shows three readers how to shoot and stitch fantastic panoramic images in the Yorkshire Dales. Gemma Padley joined them

Exposure

Norman Robertson uses a slow shutter speed to record the motion in the water at West Burton Falls
One
of the biggest considerations when shooting panoramic landscapes is how
to make sure your exposure is the same from frame to frame. It’s not a
good idea to use autoexposure, as the darker and lighter areas of the
scene will affect the exposure as you rotate the camera. When you come
to stitch the images together, the join between individual frames will
be visible and you’ll need to make adjustments, which can be time
consuming and fiddly. Tom suggested exposing for the waterfall to ensure
the highlights aren’t lost. You can then either dial in the reading
manually or work in aperture priority mode and use exposure
compensation. Alternatively, you could meter for an average part of the
scene and use this as your exposure for each frame. An easy way to
ensure that your exposure is even is to expose for an area that is
neither the darkest nor the lightest part of the scene, switch to manual
mode and dial in this exposure.


Lee Miles stayed in Askrigg for a couple of days after the Masterclass and was lucky enough to capture this superb sunrise

Once
you are happy with the exposure, take a series of test shots across the
scene to check that the exposure is consistent and use this for each
frame. ‘Photographing in bright overcast light is ideal to give an even
exposure,’ says Tom. ‘You don’t want to shoot in bright sunshine as the
light will be too contrasty and wreak havoc with your metering. Dialling
in your exposure manually is particularly useful if you are
photographing a sweeping dawn shot where areas around the sun are much
lighter and cause variance in the scene. When photographing waterfalls
you want just enough water to create a swill,’ he adds. ‘If you have a
huge deluge, the white areas will burn out.’

Photo by Kim Benson
Including a figure in the scene can help to create a sense of scale of your panorama

Tom
suggested using cloudy white balance to get an idea of how the image
will look and to shoot in raw to allow maximum control over the file
during the editing process. ‘One thing to bear in mind when you’re
shooting panoramics is moving clouds or people moving through the
scene,’ says Tom. ‘You may need to retouch your image afterwards to
clone out any duplicated objects.

Lens and Focal Length

Tom
suggested the readers use a standard or telephoto lens, and explained
why these lenses are more effective for panoramic images than a
wideangle lens. ‘If you use a wideangle lens you will get what’s known
as a “bow-tie” effect in your final stitched image,’ says Tom. ‘This is
caused by the distortion that occurs with wideangle lenses. If you
choose your focal length carefully and avoid using the widest focal
length of your lens, the bow-tie effect should be reduced. I find
50-70mm the best focal length to use.’

Black & White

Lee Miles converts his image of the Ribblehead Viaduct to black & white, adding impact to the scene

Although
the readers concentrated on shooting in colour, Tom suggested they
might like to try a few shots and convert their image to black &
white afterwards. Scenes that would work well include those with obvious
shapes and patterns. After the Masterclass Lee stayed for an extra day
and photographed the Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales National
Park, which lends itself perfectly to a panoramic approach. The arches
look especially dramatic in black & white as they cut through the
rolling landscape. In this shot, industry is juxtaposed with nature and
this creates an interesting tension.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Shooting Panoramic Images
  3. 3. Exposure
  4. 4. Stitching the Images Together and Top Tips
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