Friday, May 21, 2010

Hand Held Panoramas ~ Super Bowl XLIV

After last week's post, a few inquisitive people emailed me about hand held panoramas. The image I have chosen to feature this week is a hand held panorama made from my seat at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Florida this past January.
We should all carry and use a tripod as often as we can, but sometimes we find ourselves in situations without one, as in this case when bringing a tripod into the stadium was prohibited. (not to mention impractical!) I wanted to surround the viewer with the whole scene, which would have been impossible to accomplish in one frame.
So, when this panorama idea presented itself to me, I utilized all the components of a successful panorama mentioned in last week's blog. In addition, I had to keep a few more techniques in mind:
The first was to make sure the hand held camera was as level as possible when shooting the series of images. Second, was to use a mid range focal length to prevent any distortion. The next point to remember was to overlap each frame a little more than the 25% mentioned last week to give the stitching software more information to compare and match between frames. And most importantly, I needed to shoot more than one series of images of the scene, which I did at key moments throughout the game. The reason for this is that the success rate for stitching hand held panoramas is obviously much lower than those carefully set up on a tripod. In fact, I shot 13 series of this scene from my seat throughout the evening and only 2 were acceptable for further processing!
This week's featured panorama was made from 9 frames and was a post processing challenge because of the movement of the fans in the foreground. The image required intensive work in Photoshop after the stitching process to correct the blurred people in the foreground. I feel the finished image was well worth the extra effort, giving the viewer the feeling of sitting in the end zone amidst all of the excitement.
I realize that hand holding a series of images for a panorama is technically risky to attempt. However, I have learned that by trying to create one under less than optimal circumstances, I will at least have a chance for an acceptable finished product. Without trying to shoot the series, I am guaranteed no image at all!
Please visit my Panorama Gallery .  37 of the panoramas here were hand held.  Can you guess which ones?

(Each frame for the Super Bowl panorama was made with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm f 4.0 IS lens, 1/60 second @ f 5.0, ISO 800, Arcsoft Panorama Maker 3.0, Adobe Photoshop CS4)

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