“Why a Wide Angle Vertical Pano?”
I posted this image amazingly while in Monument Valley and it brought in a flood of emails that can be summed up simply as “Why’d you do it that way?” What you see here is a simple pano at the entrance to the Valley of the Gods, simply a gorgeous place when you have clouds (bald skies suck). At this point in time, we had some really cool clouds, those in the center of the pano especially caught my imagination. Shooting with the D4s / 18-35AFS and Nikon Thin Circular Polarizer, I saw instantly in the viewfinder two things; the butte on the left had a slight lean to it and more importantly, I couldn’t capture all the clouds. So then I went with the 16Fish and while I now had all the clouds, the lean was no better. So with those two options not solving the problem, pano was the only answer. I think what really had folks scratching their head was the vertical shooting orientation.
The subject is the sky more than the landscape so I wanted more sky in the photo. Shooting in a horizontal format, the sky takes a back seat to the landscape. Shooting at 18mm and turning vertical, the sky and more directly the cool clouds take dominance. With that, it was a no-brainer to make the shot. Nope, no tripod or special head required. The pano shot handheld, I shoot left to right, looking through the viewfinder to do a rough plan of where I want the two seams and then click. When you have this much sky in the frame, the amount of overlap between each image is really no big deal, Photoshop assembles the pano in a heartbeat. I work to keep the horizon level and other than that, I just go click. In Photoshop, I use Photomerge letting it take the Nef’s and assemble the pano. I then used the ACR Smart Filter to take the assembled pano into ACR and finish. So in my mind, this is just a simple click since it was so simple to create.