Each time I return to Gettysburg, I seem to find myself at Little Round Top, shooting from the top of the castle-like monument there.  It offers a good view of Devil’s Den and the fields beyond, all the way to the PA Memorial and Pickett’s Charge to the north.  So I know that I already have this particular shot (I think I even posted it here last year), but no matter, here’s this year’s rendition:

Panorama from Little Round Top

Panorama from Little Round Top

Panoramic shots are something that I keep saying I’m going to do more work with, although it seems that I rarely manage to.  In part I blame this on the locations I often end up at, which many times are cluttered and offer little in the way of wide-open angles.  I also blame it on my own lackluster memory, which often fails to remember to try out new tricks.

I’ve read some articles on panoramas and worked with a couple of different software sets, and I’ve pretty much condensed it down to two options – either shell out big bucks for special pano equipment, or settle of the down and dirty approach.  I go for the second option.

Down and dirty works like this: shoot in manual mode, with the same settings in each scene.  Do not adjust focal length between shots, and lock the focus at the hyperfocal distance, then switch it to manual so the focus point remains the same throughout.  Most importantly, be sure to overlap each shot by at least 33%, otherwise you’ll get faulty match ups.

Canon’s included pano software works okay, but I see it as another workflow step that can be avoided by just using the Photomerge feature in Photoshop, which works just as well, if not better.  It will take a while to process, especially if you computer has weaker guts.  But once it’s done, you’ll almost always see that the middle is fatter than the ends, so you have to crop in somewhat to square it off (this is why I always shoot panos wider than appears necessary).  Then it’s adjustment layers as normal.

The pano above came out really well this time around – if you zoom into the full-sized version, you can even count the troops in a column near the intersection by Devil’s Den.  I really need to remember this technique and pull it out of my bag more often.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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