This is the third and last post from our recent trip with CNP to Kagga Kamma. The photographic workshop at Kagga Kamma was designed to expand our wildlife skills exposing us to landscape photography and its compositional imperative. We also learnt about light painting, high dynamic ranges and panoramas. The weather worked against us, so we did not get to do star trails but that was also part of the programme. For all enthusiastic wildlife photographers, like myself, spreading your wings to include landscape is a must. Shooting landscapes shows you aspects about your camera which you are unlikely to have ever used; will enhance your appreciation of composition; and will expand your toolkit of photographic techniques. This post shows some of my first attempts at formal panoramas. Once you get started with panoramas you will also be impressed by the software which is capable of stitching a suite of images together to form the panoramas.
Haven’t you wished you could capture what you were seeing when standing admiring the vista stretching out in front of you, where its immensity, colour and beauty were spellbinding? Don’t you wish you could capture some of that grandeur and awe of that view in an image? You can! Panorama photography can capture the grandeur, colour and beauty. You will not have the wind in your hair but when you look at the image you will feel like you are back there.
To fully appreciate the panoramas you will need to double-click on the image. The files are large so it can take 45 seconds to load the image then scroll across it.
Increasingly, in urbanised communities, where densification is the prevailing trend, the ability to look out over vast, magnificent vistas filled with colour and light is limited and when you can it is soul cleansing.
A panoramic image is a composition comprising a suite of images which are digitally stitched together. The stitching is done using specialIsed software. You have a choice – you choose how many images you want to take over a selected arc of vision. This arc can be can size depending on the size lens you are using and your width of vision. You can take a 360 degree panorama, if you have an unobstructed view. The software needs around a 30% image overlap to be able to sufficiently align the images to provide a good stitch. The more adventurous panorama photographers can take three or more levels of panoramic arcs. Always remember that a 30% image overlap is required vertically and horizontally for a good image stitch. If you are taking an arc of five images at three sequential levels, you will take fifteen images in total. When each image is 35 Mb (megabytes) the resultant image will be around 0.5 Gb, not insignificant. This is big data stuff!!
The next image is an example of fifteen images stitched together an arc of five images and three levels of arcs.
As with all landscapes, composition is crucial. You just have to plan your image more carefully. given that it will take longer to take all fifteen or so images. If it is a still clear sky day then this is not a consideration. If the wind is blowing and the clouds are moving you will need to make a judgement call. Too much grass, tree or cloud movement will blur parts of the image.
One of the tricky aspects of panoramas is that the intensity and quality of light is likely to vary considerably across a 180 degree arc. The exposure rules still apply – ensure you do not blow the highlights or lose detail in the very dark areas.
The clouds do provide greater depth and mood to the image and the cirrus clouds can provide leading lines.
One of the insights Lou shared was that wildlife scenes, be they herds of Elephant down at Elephant valley on the Chobe river or groups of animals in the Masa Mara, are effectively moving landscapes and a sound understanding of the techniques and compositional imperatives in landscapes will make better wildlife photographs – wise words indeed.
Thanks once again to the CNP team for a really interesting workshop in an unusual setting learning new things!!!
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand,”
Seek to understand nature, marvel at its interconnectedness and then let it be.