Panoramic Photography and Cityscapes
Panoramic Photography and Cityscapes
New to Charlottesville, panoramic photographer Carroll Morgan creates vibrant, high resolution, large megapixel panoramic cityscape images and architectural interiors.
Cityscape panoramic photography preparation
Much of my panoramic success comes from gaining access to the buildings from which I want to photograph.
I cultivate relationships with building owners, general managers, marketing directors, property managers, residents, or professional people who have contacts who own, manage, or develop properties. When I find a new building that looks promising, I will seek permission to photograph from their property. It may take days or weeks to secure permission, and, of course, not all requests are successful.
Sometimes a owner is agreeable, but poor access to a suitable position on the building makes a site unusable. For example, one property had a 20 foot tall parapet from which I would have had to shoot over. Also, if there is a location fee I will likely pass.
If my contact is willing to consider my request, I may mention other buildings from which I have shot, and talk about my relationship with the decision makers there. I also assure them that I will respect their property, provide a liability insurance certificate, and meet all their internal requirements. One client expressed concern that I might track melted tar from his roof onto the hall carpets, so I always change out of my shoes when coming off his roof.
It is usually good that we meet at the location, so they get to know me. This also enables me to complete a site survey, helping me find the best camera angle, learn how to access the roof, and see what obstacles to avoid while setting up in the dark.
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The cityscape panoramic photography shoot
A perfect shoot starts with me being on site, with camera setup, at least 60 minutes before sunrise or sunset. I currently use a Nikon D3s camera, well known for its low image noise capability, and usually shoot in a vertical (portrait) orientation.
I use Nodal Ninja‘s panoramic equipment, and I am very pleased to be sponsored by them. I mount my camera and lens on the new Nodal Ninja Ultimate M1-L panoramic head, which sits atop an RD16 Rotator and an EZ Leveler II. The pano head is rock solid. I recently shot a 10 image pano. Each image was exposed for 13 seconds and all were tack sharp! I am also very particular about leveling the camera; the resultant panoramic image is easier to post-process. The EZ Leveler greatly simplifies the process. A level camera that rotates a repeatable number of degrees and permits a proper and consistent overlap of each image is very important. I no longer have to think about those mechanics, which allows me to concentrate on the actual image capture, knowing that I will have seamless stitching of the captured images.
During image capture the overall scene is broken down into smaller, individual, but contiguous “pieces” which, during post production, are then stitched into the finished panoramic photo using software. I may only rotate the camera on a single horizontal plane (one pass), overlapping the individual images to allow for good stitching. If I am using a longer lens or the buildings are relatively close to the camera, to cover the scene I may have to shoot 2 or 3 additional horizontal planes by tilting the camera vertically up or down.
To photograph a sunrise or sunset panoramic I have just a few minutes when all the different exposure levels in the scene match well enough to render a great image. For these shots I try to choose a lens focal length that allows a single horizontal rotation, because the light level changes so quickly. Of course, I may shoot hundreds or thousands of images before and after the “best” time, because sometimes magic happens during these times.
I end up with many small sections of the total scene after the shoot. I add the correct metadata and rename the RAW files. I also fully edit each individual image, usually 8 to 42, that will comprise the final panoramic image. Currently I use Adobe Lightroom to prepare the RAW images and Adobe Photoshop CS6 beta to stitch them together. There is other specialized panoramic software available, but so far I have been pleased with the results from Photoshop. Exporting the image back into Lightroom, I adjust the stitched image further and output as required.
The result is a unique, vibrant, detailed, incredibly sharp, and never before seen photographic art image. The file size can be 2GB or larger, and most images can reproduce prints as large as the client requires.
Please call me directly at (434) 260-0099 in the Charlottesville/Washington, D.C. area or (404) 556-6821 in Atlanta to discuss assignment photography, or inquire about licensing my images for wall art, marketing, or advertising.
(View other images in my panoramic photography portfolio.)