Playing With Panoramas

My dad and I are prowling the sagebrush country of southeast Oregon this week, birding and photographing stuff. Our carmometer registered 17 F this morning, typical early winter weather at Malheur, and most birds have migrated south (no wonder birders never come here in November). But the high desert is beautiful this time of year…

Photographing that scenery is a challenge. My camera arsenal is mostly designed for faraway specks; I’ve been lugging around my 600mm lens all weekend, which weighs 11.8 pounds and is worth about as much as my car (life’s priorities). That’s great for birds and the occasional furtive coyote, but no so ideal for landscapes. Even my 100mm lens, relatively tiny, is no good for a wide scenery shot. Luckily, I can take panoramas!

I’ve actually never tried this before. I don’t know why. It’s awesome. You take a bunch of overlapping photos and then stitch them together into one image (I did these by hand in Photoshop, but there are some programs that’ll do panoramas automatically).

One side effect of this is that the resulting picture is enormous – I could print one of these out poster-size and you’d be able to see every little detail. The files are also off-the-scale huge; Photoshop kept crashing as I manipulated half a dozen full-resolution photos into one. Maybe I need a bigger computer?

It’s pretty satisfying to build the panorama, watching edges line up and magically disappear. If you ever try one, be sure to keep your camera on manual exposure so that adjoining images match correctly. And stick to static scenes; animals and moving objects (like a tree in the wind) are apt to mess things up – though I got lucky with some cows in a field.

As usual, click on any photo to see a larger version ;)

Malheur NWR Headquarters


A Lonely Willow Tree


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