Photographing wildlife with a prime lens can sometimes be challenging and I shared some thoughts on how to cope with the fixed focal length with subjects in close proximity in this blog post a couple of weeks ago.
Chances are, if you have had the opportunity to shoot with a prime lens of greater than 200mm that you’ve found yourself wanting an extra metre or two’s distance between you and your subject to achieve the ideal composition or simply to fit the entire subject into the frame. Some quick thinking in the field and a bit of Lightroom magic can help salvage these sorts of situations where changing lenses will result in you missing the moment.
Our group of guests were photographing a particularly playful lion cub in a tree during our recent Wildlife Photography Seminar. I had the 400mm F2.8 and 2x converter mounted on the 1DX MKII with a resultant focal length of 800mm. The chances of me being able to fit the entire cub into the frame were almost nil.
For a brief moment the cub paused in a precarious perch and presented us with what I would say was one of the best photo opportunities.
I was too tight though.
Rather than waiting to see if the paw or backside shifted into frame i took two consecutive images, one of the left hand side including the paw and one slightly off to the right including the backside.
This meant that I had now captured the scene in its entirety.
Useful TipI star rate images for Pano’s in the field with 2 stars, making them easy to distinguish from other frames once imported into Lightroom.
Now, how do I get these two images to come together into a single frame?
Well Lightroom 6/CC makes this so easy.
Select your two images.
Right click >> Photo merge >> Panorama
Lightroom opens up a panorama panel with a number of options and generates a final preview for you at the same time.
Lightroom automatically selects a layout projection by analyzing the source images and applies either a Perspective, Cylindrical, or Spherical layout, depending on which projection produces a better panorama.
Alternatively, you can choose a layout projection manually:
Spherical: Aligns and transforms the images as if they were mapped to the inside of a sphere. This projection mode is great for really wide or multirow panoramas.
Perspective: Projects the panorama as if it were mapped to a flat surface. Since this mode keeps straight lines straight, it is great for architectural photography. Really wide panoramas may not work well with this mode due to excessive distortion near the edges of the resulting panorama.
Cylindrical: Projects the panorama as if it were mapped to the inside of a cylinder. This projection mode works really well for wide panoramas, but it also keeps vertical lines straight.
Click merge and Lightroom spits out your final image as a .DNG file with a Pano suffix.
This is a great tool for capturing scenes where your subjects are just not close enough to fit into a single frame and can be used to merge images captured in horizontal and vertical orientation.
Whilst panoramas are very popular and used to great effect in Landscape photography, we seem to forget that this feature can be used with great effect in the wildlife photography realm. Here’s a great example from Mana Pools where Marlon stitched 11 images captured at 400mm to really convey a sense of scale of this scene.
Lightroom has made stitching panoramas together so simple. the next time you see an incredible scene infront of you, resist the urge to grab your wide angle lens and up that pixel count of the final image by capturing multiple images at a greater focal length and bring them together in Lightroom.
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