Panorama Workshop, October 14-21, 2018 - Aaron Priest Photography
Panorama Workshop

Fall Color Panoramas, 4 Day Workshop

1 week of accommodation included at a private townhouse overlooking Northeast Harbor
5 participants max, spouses welcome--only 2 spots remaining!
Instructors: Aaron Priest & Vincent Lawrence
Accommodation: October 14-21, 2018
Workshop: October 16-20, 2018

Aaron Priest Photography and Acadia Images are excited to offer a 4-day panorama-focused workshop with a week's worth of accommodation at a private house located in the photographic hub of Acadia, overlooking Northeast Harbor. There will be two instructors: Vincent Lawrence, owner of Acadia Images and year-round resident of the area, and Aaron Priest, a world-renowned panoramic and high-resolution photographer from Maine. Aaron has been collaborating with Acadia Images for several years on Night Sky, Milky Way Panoramas, Night Sky Timelapse, and Fall Panorama workshops.

By including a full week of accommodation you are able to arrive early and stay an extra day, making the most of the fall foliage season in Acadia National Park. Take some time to explore on your own.

NOTE: If you are registered and unable to attend, the accommodation portion of tuition ($800) is non-refundable. The remaining tuition can be used towards a future workshop.

Workshop Topics:

Learn everything from the basics to the complex of panorama photography in this post-processing intense 4-day workshop. If you have never tried a pano, have tried but had problematic results, or want to learn how to perfect this technique this is the workshop for you. Please bring whatever pano gear you have and if you want to try out panos for the first time there are a Nodal Ninja 6 and two Really Right Stuff multi-row panning heads to experiment with (we recommend an ArcaSwiss style lens foot or L bracket for your specific lens/camera as generic/universal plates aren't as sturdy). Post-processing will be a major focus of this workshop and you will need to bring a laptop with Photoshop (CS6 or newer) or Lightroom (version 6.0 or newer--now labeled Lightroom CC Classic). We recommend Creative Cloud to have the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom for improved panorama features. If you want to get into multi-row panoramas you’ll want to have either PTGui (recommended), AutoPano, or Hugin (free).

This workshop with start at 1pm on October 16th with an overview of panoramic technique and pitfalls. We’ll then delve into the issue of parallax and diagnosing the no-parallax-point of your lens. We’ll head out into beautiful Acadia National Park in the late afternoon to start shooting panorama material.

This workshop covers:

• Camera settings for panoramas
• No-parallax-point identification
• Use of panning heads
• Single-row panos
• Multi-row panos
• Spherical panos
• Little planets
• Bokehramas
• Dynamic range issues and HDR
• Image post-processing for panoramas
• Stitching and blending
• Projections and distortion
• File formats and size limitations
• Resources for sharing/exploring gigapixel and spherical panoramas

Cadillac Mountain at Sunset, click to zoom in and pan around

At a minimum you will need a camera, lens, tripod, tripod head with an independent panning lock (preferably above your ball head or leveling base), and a laptop with the above recommended software. A nodal slide rail is also recommended to eliminate parallax and make stitching easier. If multi-row or spherical panos are your endgame then you’ll want to have a multi-row panning head such as the ones from Really Right Stuff or Nodal Ninja.

Panoramas get big fast, especially with 24 to 50 megapixel cameras. Batch editing the RAW files can be very CPU intensive and take a while to render. An SSD dramatically speeds this up if you have a large enough one in your laptop, and big panoramas in Photoshop require a lot of RAM. You’ll need plenty of available storage, both in camera and on your computer. Bring an external drive to backup your images on.

While out in the field it’s best to take notes about the sequence you shoot, either on paper or on your phone, to refresh your memory when stitching later. Smartphones (Android or iOS) have a number of apps that are useful for planning in the field (tides, moonrise/set, sunrise/set, weather, panorama calculations, etc.), and we will cover some of this as well.

Seal Harbor at Sunset, click to zoom in and pan around

The Accommodations:

We are including a full week of accommodations by hosting this workshop at a private townhouse overlooking Northeast Harbor. Check in as early as 3:00 PM on October 14th and checkout is 10:00 AM on the 21st.

What’s not included:

Meals and transportation are participants’ responsibility. There is a kitchen available for use at the estate. Usually breakfast and dinner are taken as a group in town. We carpool as much as possible to reduce traffic into the park. Vehicles entering the Park are required to have a entrance pass, available to purchase at numerous locations around the park.

Payment to Acadia Images, LLC

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Red Maple Leaf

Barbara Gerlach of flew up a few days early for a recent night photography workshop that I co-instructed with Vincent Lawrence of For the first couple of days it was rain and 50mph wind gusts, so we didn’t get out much! But we had a lot of indoor time to go over shooting / editing techniques and hardware / software, particularly regarding panoramas and macro photography. For this shot we gathered a bunch of leaves from outside and set them on the kitchen table under the ceiling light. I wanted to demonstrate Promote Control’s focus stacking with HDR in the field and the batch features of Lightroom, Photomatix Pro, and Helicon Focus Pro for post processing. We used Barbara’s Nikon D4s & 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with my Canon 500D closeup filter, Promote Control, and Really Right Stuff pano/gimbal head.

I setup the Promote Control to shoot 9 focus planes at f/22 to cover the entire depth of field we wanted, with 3 exposures of 1.3 EV steps from 1/1.3 to 5 second shutter speeds at ISO 1250. We then shot a grid of 4 rows by 3 columns for a total of 324 photos! Shooting was easy, a single button press on the Promote Control would shoot 3 exposure brackets at each of the 9 focus planes, and then we’d pan the Really Right Stuff panning head to the next position looking at the degrees on the vertical and horizontal panning clamps and repeat. I shoot a lot of manual panoramas this way, but this was my first for a “macrorama” (a word I think Vincent made up… haha!).

For post processing, I reverted back to Lightroom’s 2010 process under camera calibration, zeroed out blacks, brightness, contrast, and set the point curve to linear under tone curve. This results in very flat images without much contrast or punch, but they yield better results with tone mapping and exposure fusion later I’ve discovered. I dialed in white balance, sharpening, noise reduction, chromatic aberration, lens distortion, and vignetting to taste (the default lens profile worked very well). I exported the RAW files to 16-bit TIFFs in three simultaneous batch exports of equal number of photos (three simultaneous exports seems to saturate the processor threads and SSD in my laptop, four is more efficient on my desktop).

I chose a bracket somewhere in the middle of the image sequence of the red leaf with proper focus and tonemapped it in Photomatix Pro with its exposure fusion engine and saved a preset. Then I batch processed all 324 photos down to 108 using the preset.

After tonemapping, we batch processed the 9 focus stacks in Helicon Focus to 12 final images for stitching. I was going to use PTGui Pro to align and blend the photos, but a quick test with Photoshop’s own Photomerge feature worked perfectly fine. I cropped the flattened panorama in Lightroom to a 1:1 square ratio and added a little more contrast, clarity, tone curve, and brightened the exposure slightly—things that are harder to do in Photomatix. The finished image after cropping is 8597 x 8597 pixels or ~74 megapixels.

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From Acadia National Park