Tag Archives: stitch

This Desert Life

The Southwest of USA had a tendency to take my breath away every day. No I was not crossing the continent in Forrest Gump style. I am not so much a running fool more a walk in the desert fool. Rather, I was short on breath from the incredible landscapes leaving me speechless and awestruck in the presence of ancient dramatic masterpieces by Mother Nature. One such masterpiece named Death Valley is a complete otherworldly experience where the expression "wide open space" falls short and new words are needed.

I have posted a few images from the Valley of Death previously and today I present a vast view of the valley. Well, it is only part of the valley actually as it is some incredible 150 kilometers long. It is a hazy view during a sand storm just before sunset. Tell me if this view makes me feel as I do, that you are visiting something else than Earth as we know it.

vast valley of death - blog 

Whilst I love this view and the memories of Death Valley that it triggers I must admit to not being quite sure what to do with it. Is it an image or more a memorabilia? Is it a fine art image I want in my collection? Is it something anyone would wish to purchase? What do you think? It is awfully wide, more than 5 to 1 in width height ratio making it rather unpractical. This is of course a stitched panorama, around 19-20 vertical images from my 100-400mm Canon L lens set at 300mm. The final file is 27,000 pixels wide, quite detailed although fine details suffer from the dust storm. It will support prints almost as big as the real thing. Actually; with a few cheesy titles this is the intro to some 70s sci-fi show!

Even if it is just a memory, I may print this one at many meters wide and stick it on the wall of whatever future home I settle in. It will be my window to my home planet. Vast Valley of Death for some, home for me and I can escape here. In the words of Guilliaume Nery, into "one pure instant of eternity" where the vastness and emptiness draws and humbles me. This Desert Life and we shall take it Further and Further.

Waves of Wyadup

No words today. Not at all in the mood. But an image of a fantastic afternoon at Wyadup Rocks, Western Australia.

Me and my friend Signe arrived here late afternoon and was immediately almost spellbound by the magical conditions. Strong wind and huge waves beating the turquoise water against the Wyadup rocks. And we were the only ones there Magic. Later we walked down to the beach and was rewarded with a spectacular sunset, more images to follow. This is a 3 horizontal image stitch, does not even come close to the real thing but I still think it is a nice image in itself:

Blog - Wyadup Rocks Pano copy

Field of Dreams in Laos

Clichéd title. Probably even used it before. No matter! My writing will not make me rich and famous anyway, might as well recycle my own clichés! Anyway to become a cliché it has to be extremely good. Or popular. Wish I could become a cliché!

This particular Field of Dreams is a rice field in the mountains of East Laos, driving towards the village of Nonghat close to the Vietnam border. After one day in the capital Vientiane – awful touristy place, more on that later, whoever rebuilt this city ruined it – we flew to the remote town of Phonsavan and met our car, driver and guide. We drive up the mountains on curvy small roads snaking their way through gorgeous landscapes and charming villages with nothing but wooden huts, smiling villagers and simple country living. I never want to leave. As the sun starts setting and golden hour is upon us we start scouting for a nice location. Being me I want a big wide open space, not easy to find in mountains. But suddenly this beautiful flat dry brown rice field appears as if someone heard my request. Perfect timing, perfect location. Perfect colours as the dry orange rice crops really pick up the colour of the setting sun. Perfect moment that I captured this way:

Laos Field of Dreams. Flemming Bo Jensen

You are not really supposed to walk off road or off path. Laos is still home to so many unexploded bombs dropped by USA during the Vietnam war. US Airforce used Laos as a garbage bin, you don’t want to land with bombs on your plane so if the pilots had any leftovers returning from raids in Vietnam, it was dumped unexploded on Laos before returning to base. Thanks USA! So any step off track could be your last. Here, it is a rice field though so plenty of footsteps before me and I was careful to only walk on the paths.

This is a stitched panorama of 7 or 8 images, developed in Lightroom and stitched in PTgui. Images like these are easy. Nature is the artist. I merely composed, shot stitched, colour balanced and also painted a bit with light to enhance the hut. But Mother Nature is the artist here, love her to bits!

Field of Dreams in Laos was truly beautiful. Stay tuned for the sequels, Solitary Tree in Laos and Outback Road in Laos. I warned you I am a cliché!

Nature the Artist

Studying clouds and attempting to predict the weather is a full time job for any outdoor photographer. It is how we try and increase our changes of getting that special shot. It is also incredibly fascinating. Clouds are for dreamers and I never tire of observing or shooting nature’s big canvas known as the sky.

On a warm Summer night you will often get some high level cirrus clouds that looks like Nature the Artist did a few lazy and casual soft brush strokes here and there. Usually these clouds disappear before sunset but occasionally they stick around and when they do the colours are quite spectacular. Wednesday night was a good example of cirrus clouds here in Copenhagen and I was in place to capture this panorama:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Copenhagen Harbour Summer Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This is a 170 degree view of Copenhagen shot directly into the sunset across the harbour. It is a good spot for getting as much sky as possible and the same spot as this Harbour Storm panorama. It was in the middle of a warm Summer week here in Copenhagen with temperatures above 30 degrees creating cirrus clouds. Everything is relative someone once said and what we call heat wave is a cold day in the Northern Territory! Nevertheless a super lovely day and sunset.

Tech specs and oh the horizon, the horizon

This panorama is 7 vertical images stitched in PTgui (PTgui really had to save me this time, more about that later). Shot with 17-40mm L  lens at 20mm, f/22.0 using 1.3 second exposure with a Cokin neutral density filter attached. RAW files were developed in Lightroom 2.0 and the final stitch received very little post production in Photoshop. Nature the Artist did all the work here, I just painted a bit more light into the shadows to show more of the buildings and added a vignette. The horizon is straight in this final version. It may appear slightly curved due to the wide 170 degree view but it’s straight. It wasn’t always so…

FBJ-crooked-horizon I have an uncanny ability to spot anything crooked, any horizon not straight even if it’s off by just half a degree. I use this super hero power to “help” other photographers straighten their horizon by politely pointing it out on their blogs; normally with some level of sarcasm. Well the photography gods are not without humour! When shooting the above panorama my head was in the clouds. I levelled the tripod and then moved it forward to the edge of the pier resting the front leg on a raised edge. Guess what. It’s not level anymore!

My tripod should carry a sign saying “I’m with Stupid!”

With my head in the clouds and also slightly trying to look cool because there are several interested people next to me on the pier I shoot away – and don’t even look into the viewfinder because hey! I have super powers. Thank the maker that PTgui is so good at stitching because on the right is the leftmost shot of the original files. Super powers indeed Human Spirit Level Man. Oh the horizon!

Perfecting your stitched panoramas

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post about stitched panoramas that focused mostly on all the little tricks you need to remember when you are shooting the soon to be stitched photos in the field. The shooting part is still essential. Get everything right in the field and you’ll be laughing come stitching time!

This post focuses on stitching the shots and is a tutorial showing you how I get from these 4 developed RAW files:

Sydney Panorama 4 tiff files

to this final photo as seen in my previous post:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sydney Skyline at Sunset Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

It’s a long tutorial, so I split this post in two; click the “Keep reading” link to, well, keep reading!

Continue reading

Field of Dreams

I grew up on a farm so I have a strong nostalgic affection for any farm related landscape photos. I do miss country living and if my family still owned our farm I would shoot an awful lot of “Harvest in Sunset Light” panoramas every year in August. It is certain that my love of wide open remote desolate fields and landscapes grew out of living on a farm and then found heaven in the Australian outback where the sense of space is never ending.

Denmark is a densely populated country so finding landscape views not ruined by bitumen roads or power lines is a struggle. Me and my mate Markus managed to do so on a bit of a road trip into the Danish “outback” last week. The result is this Field of Dreams:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Wheat Field of Dreams Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

With an incoming rain storm the clouds looked spectacular and the light had that super soft “just before the storm” extra charged quality that looks so good in photos. This is shot digitally and stitched in PTgui from 5 vertical images. I also shot a few rolls with the Fuji G617 so it’ll be interesting to compare the two once I get the slides scanned. This shot received a fair bit of post production, the wheat field was much greener but I like it golden so I warmed the colour and changed the hue. The clouds were a blue tone that didn’t go too well with the gold so what do you do, you warm the clouds as well! I love the digital darkroom and I am sure Ansel Adams would have too. A relatively strong vignette put the finishing touch on my Field of Dreams.

Me at work in the field as captured by Master Photographer Markus Hornum-Stenz This road trip and Field of Dreams (one too many movie references you think?) reminded me that it’s possible to shoot some alright landscapes here in Denmark and I thoroughly enjoyed working in the wheat field. Doesn’t always have to be me standing in the most secluded secret sacred spot in Australia having battled snakes and crocs to get there, this shot may lead the way for more landscapes from home. Still love the snakes and crocs though!

World Panorama Stock & my new Sydney Panorama

As always, it’s a panoramic world for me!

wps-logo I recently became a Pro member of World Panorama Stock, a great stock site that specializes in high resolution, high quality inspirational, Rights Managed only panoramic stock imagery to professional photo researchers, graphic designers, advertising agencies, publishers. I am very happy to be working with them as I am a big supporter of the panoramic format!

Yes, I hardly need to reiterate that I love the panoramic format and World Panorama Stock is a great way to display and hopefully sell more of my panorama photos. Click to see my feature World Panorama Stock page with my bio and the images that I’ve submitted so far. There are many other fantastic panoramas for you to enjoy, check out some of the other featured photographers or use the category or search feature.

Sydney Panorama and the 17-40mm f/4.0 L lens

My latest panorama release is a stitched panorama from Sydney, shot from Kiribilli across the harbour. It is late afternoon and the sun is low and the strong sidelight lights up the Opera House. The panorama is 7 vertical images stitched in PTgui and then I did some post production in Photoshop, including a custom vignetting and some dodging and burning. PTgui did a very respectable job of blending a panorama shot across the harbour even with water in motion. This is the big drawback of stitching digital panos as opposed to a true panoramic 6×17 camera – motion! Especially water is really hard to stitch, there will be a big difference between shots when you have a bit of wind. I probably still have a bit of cloning to do in this panorama shot, but here it is – click the image to see 1000 pixel version on my website:

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Sydney Panorama, Opera House, Skyline and Harbour Bridge

Like many of my panos it is shot with the Canon 17-40mm f/4.0 L lens and I really recommend this for landscape and cityscape work including panoramas. It is super tack sharp (a fair bit sharper than the 24-105mm f/4.0 L lens!) and the coating on this lens produces some fantastic colours even without polarizer (which of course you can’t use in a stitched pano!). Only problem with the 17-40 L – it’s actually too light so it doesn’t create enough counterweight, shooting handheld I always end up with slightly tilted horizons! Well, the weight problem will be cured when I get the 16-35mm f/2,8 L !

Super Wide Panoramas

Sorry for neglecting my blog and not uploading any new photos to my website, this flu virus has really taken it’s toll.

I did get around to stitching a few panoramas and that brings me to a problem with display very wide (more than 4:1) panoramas online. My “standard” aspect ratio photos I upload at 800 pixels wide/tall whereas wide stitched panoramas I upload at 1000 pixels wide. I want to show enough detail to customers on my website but I don’t want to upload at such a large resolution that my file can just be grabbed and used directly from my website (and I’m not a fan of big intrusive watermarks in the photo).

But even a 1000 pixels wide image is really just a thumbnail for these super wide panoramas, most of them are up to 10 images stitched and more than 10,000 pixels wide so at 1/10th the size you loose the magic. I wish I could show you the incredible clarity and detail of these original files! I am also looking for a printer where I can do a 3 meter wide print of these files without sending the file to an expensive lab.

Here’s a few examples of super wide panoramas, please click the image to see the 1000 pixels wide version on my website.

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Cannon Hill at Hawk Dreaming in Kakadu National Park, Australia

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House at sunset

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Ubirr Rock in Kakadu National Park, Australia

I really hope the future has some exhibition in store for me where I get to display these as 3 meter wide prints so I can show you these photos as they’re meant to be seen! Until then you have to settle for viewing my 1000 pixels wide versions and trust me when I say that the originals I sell are fine art quality files so detailed you feel you can walk straight into the scene through the screen!

Shooting stitched panoramas

Last week I talked about shooting cropped panoramas – this week I’ll cover shooting stitched panoramas. Stitching is the process of shooting several photos and using software to stitch them into one panorama (vertical or horizontal). I’ll assume you know all the basics of shooting stitched panos, this post will focus on my experiences of shooting them.

Visualizing the end product in a cropped panorama can be a bit tricky but at least you still have the shot in your viewfinder – with a stitched pano you really have to exercise your imagination! I’ll focus on shooting the stitched panorama in the field – not the stitching. Get the shot right and stitching is not too hard.

Let’s kick off with an example, a wide view that is only possibly using stitching (unless you own a 6x17cm panorama camera!). This is a very wide view of Brisbane (click to see large):

Click to see large size on my gallery!

This shot is made up of 5 horizontal images stitched together using the brilliant PTgui software. The final product of this pano is 5600 pixels wide (enough for a good 150cm wide print) and looks fantastic.

To illustrate the components, here’s a screenshot from PTgui’s “align panorama” window allowing you to clearly see the 5 images:

pt-gui-stitch-brisbane

As you can see I cropped a lot of the panorama after stitching it and this is how you should normally do it – always leave a wide margin for cropping later, already in the stitching process you loose quite a bit of the top and bottom when the images are warped and stitched together. In this case I actually have a bit too much margin but never mind. I also decided to crop a lot of the right side after seeing the stitch. Notice how much overlap of the images I have, this is important.

Shooting the stitched pano in the field

The above shot is almost 100% automatically stitched by PTgui. I think I may have manually deleted one or two control points and of course I aligned the horizon manually. Apart from that PTgui did all the magic with a flawless result because I took great care in shooting this in the field. So how did I do it? I use these rules:

  • Visualize. This is the most important part (just ask Ansell Adams). You cannot see the end product here, you have to visualize it.
  • Use RAW. You really really have to shoot raw for stitched panos. You need the images to be 100% identical and only raw allows this. If you must shoot jpeg (why?) then it is really important to set manual white balance.
  • Everything on manual control! Shutter speed, aperture, iso and focus absolutely must be on manual control so they don’t change between shots. Oh and don’t zoom in or out between shots!
  • Find the correct exposure, like in the example above part of your panorama will like include much brighter sky than other parts. So get the exposure right, you don’t want to burn out the highlights in half the pano!
  • I practice the sweep several times before shooting the images. I sweep from left to right but it doesn’t matter really. Practice the sweep or you’ll start shooting and discover that your body can’t actually rotate 180 degrees around your spinal cord!
  • Don’t rotate around my body. I start off with spread legs, right foot in front and lean forward (like I’m the karate kid). I then concentrate on rotating around the lens nodal point when doing the shoot. I use my legs to rotate, keeping my upper body still. At least you have to focus on rotating around the camera, keeping the camera in one spot and. This is very important, fail this and you’ll introduce some heavy parallax errors in the stitching.
  • If using a tripod for this you should use a panorama head or you’ll almost make it worse by using a tripod (since you’re rotating around the tripod screw in the camera, not the nodal point).
  • It’s a good idea to zoom in to at least 35mm so you don’t introduce too much barrel distortion from your lens. Don’t zoom in too tight. You need plenty of  margin for stitching and cropping.
  • Overlap! Create overlaps by at least 30% but 50% is better.
  • You need to keep the horizon in the same place in every shot. If shooting a horizontal panorama then I just stick the horizon in the middle. It’s easier to keep it in the middle from shot to shot and I’m cropping it later anyway.
  • If I’m shooting stitched panoramas in the Australian outback – the hardest part of all is actually ignoring the flies crawling into my nose, eyes and ears!

Practice this again and again and you’ll get so good at shooting the separate images that the next bit – stitching the images is very easy and almost automated! That’s why I’ll only briefly cover it here in the next paragraphs, I find that the shooting part is by far the most important.

Developing the raw files

One rule here: the adjustments you make to the raw images must be 100% identical! That means you can easily do you normal RAW development, set the white balance, exposure, fill light, black and white point, saturation, curves etc. But do this on one of the photos and then copy these adjustments to all of the shots! They must be 100% identical or they won’t stitch properly.

Stitching and software

I use PTgui and I find it amazing, it is an incredible piece of work and easily worth the money. There are several other commercial super stitch programs as well but you can easily learn by using some of the free stitch programs. A free stitch program is probably included in your camera software, or try the free demo of AutoStitch.

More examples

Have a look at my two panorama galleries, the main panorama gallery and the Australia panorama gallery for many more examples of both cropped and stitched panos. Feel free to comment or email me with any questions!

It’s a panoramic world for me

I love panoramas and always have and I’m really satisfied with how digital photography has enabled me to shoot my panoramic visions without owning a panorama camera. I think my eyes have a built in 3:1 aspect ratio because that is how I see the world: 

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Head up in the clouds and a big wide view!

A final word of warning: shooting panoramas is very addictive 😀 You may find the standard 3:2 format useless after shooting a lot of panoramas and having been bitten by the pano bug (and flies, mozzies etc. in the outback!)