Acadia National Park - Aaron Priest Photography
100 2014 2015 8353 8359 8719 10738 10748 238724 239126 239264 239280 239283 239290 239305 2x3 aaron priest acadia acadia national park air glow airplane andromeda astronomy astrophotography autumn bar harbor barn bass harbor beach beaver beehive lagoon behind the scenes bernard big dipper bird blue blue hour boardwalk boats bokeh bokehrama boulder beach boulders bracy cove branch brook bruce neumann bts buoy cadillac mountain cadillac mtn carriage road charlie widdis clouds cloudy coast coastal color connie pooler cove crop d810 dan miles dark skies david francis dawn dock docks duck brook dusk dynamic perception eagle lake emotimo fall farm fire fisheye fishing flowing focus stacking fog foliage forest full full sky gigapan gigapixel goal zero golden hour great hill green group handshake harbor hdr hunter's beach hunter's brook joe meirose jordan pond karen king lake landscape leaves little long pond little planet lobster trap log long exposure lynda appel macro macrorama maine margaret todd mast matthew parks meteor mike lawie mike taylor milky milky way moon moonlight moonlit mount desert island mountains new england night night photography night sky north east creek ocean ocean path orange orion otter cliffs otter cove otter point overcast panorama photographers planet pond portal promote control rain red reflection river road rocks rocky sailboat sailing sand sand beach schoodic schooner head road seagull seal harbor seaweed selfie shack shadow shore silhouette sirius sky spherical spinning square stairs stanley brook bridge stanley brook road star star trails stars startrails steel wool steps stream summer sun sunrise sunset swirl the bubbles the gorge thunder hole thurston's lobster pound tide time timelapse timewarp trails tree trees truck twilight vehicle venkat pakala vincent lawrence warp water waterfall way western point wharf wide wild gardens of acadia winter harbor woods workshop yellow

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Seal Harbor at Sunset

Mount Desert Island, Maine, July 31, 2016, 20:05

A lot of effort goes into a gigapan, especially at sunset with rapidly changing light and in a harbor with moving boats and waves. There are several stages of work to any good photo: planning, shooting, post-processing, printing / display, and with panoramas you have to add stitching and blending of course. The planning phase is probably the most critical for a successful stitch later though. Location and time of day are obviously two important steps of planning, as is choosing your subject and field of view to know what focal length and aperture would best isolate your subject or place your subject in its environment. You may even have several subjects in a wide landscape. In this scene, the color of the sky, the reflection on the water, and the people getting off the boat on the pier were what I chose to be my focus. I let the railing and edge of shoreline be the natural border of the scene. I don’t always center my horizon line, but for a reflection it emphasizes the mirrored effect and it juxtaposed the dipping arch of the boats in the foreground lined up left to center below the horizon and the rising arch of the hill in the background from center to right above the horizon. The swooping S through the scene helps break up the centered horizon line.

Next was choosing my focal length, once I knew how much of the scene I was going to shoot. The horizontal angle of view was 160° wide, and it would take a non-existent 3.2mm lens to cover such an extreme angle, so it goes without saying that stitching multiple photos was obviously going to be the answer. But what focal length? 40mm would have covered the vertical field of view with a single row in portrait orientation and taken 6 images to reach 158° wide with a 25% overlap, but the resolution would only be 167 megapixels and I wanted much more detail, especially of the people on the distant dock. On the other hand, at 200mm it would have taken 31 columns of 6 rows for a total of 186 images and the stitched panorama would be 4.3 gigapixels, but I didn’t feel I had enough time with the people leaving the dock and setting sun to capture that many images. I also had moving boats and waves to contend with. In the end, I settled on 110mm and here’s the critical reason why: it captured the full mast and reflection of the tallest boat in the harbor in a single image, which would make masking and deghosting MUCH easier in post-production later when stitching and blending. It also meant I could capture the entire scene in 51 images (17 columns of 3 rows) before the light disappeared. I turned every 10° horizontally and 15° vertically for about a 39% horizontal overlap and 38% vertical overlap so I would have plenty of material for blending and deghosting moving boats and waves. It took about 6 minutes to capture all the images so the light was fairly consistent and the clouds didn’t move far. I started in the lower left hand corner and zigzagged so I would be shooting the darkest area first and the brightest area last for more even lighting, since the light was fading and the scene was getting darker. I would do the opposite for a sunrise panorama. The final, cropped image wound up being 65899 x 19926 or 1.3 gigapixels, so it was a good compromise and I still hit my goal of a gigapan.

The hyperfocal distance of a 110mm lens at f/8 is 50m where everything from 25m to infinity should be acceptably sharp. This assumes a much smaller print size than zooming into 100% in a gigapan though. I probably should have chosen at least f/11 or f/13 for more depth of field, but I was also down to 1/20 shutter speed and up to ISO 200 for an exposure and I didn’t want to raise my ISO to 2500. I couldn’t go with a longer shutter speed either without blurred boats from the waves. So I chose f/8, focused on a boat in the middle of the harbor (30m away), took a couple near and far test shots, and confirmed it was an acceptable compromise. Everything in photography is a compromise, as Joe DiMaggio is fond of saying!

Camera settings: 110mm, f/8, ISO 200, 1/20

Stitching data: 3 rows of 17 images. 65899 x 19926

Equipment used: Nikon D810, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II, Promote Control, and Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod w/ leveling base & pano/gimbal head. RAW conversion in Lightroom, aligned with PTGui, and manually blended via masks in Photoshop. Planned with PhotoPills.