After exiting historic Faneuil Hall with this winner HDR photo safely captured, Lori and I nom’ed on some asian-fusion noodles from Wagamama and waited for Blue Hour to set in. Blue Hour (the hour after the sun sets when the sky is a-particular-color-that-I-bet-you’ll-never-guess) is perfect for HDR photography, but I’m always a bit tense since it’s so brief. This time, I had done my homework so that my tripod was in position right as the Christmas Tree was turned on in Quincey Market. The issue I quickly realized was not timing but angle, specifically my 18-200 just wouldn’t capture the whole scene in one shot. Visually explained below, I decided to shoot a 30 frame panorama. I’m slowly ironing out an efficient workflow that starts with lens corrections in Lightroom, moves straight to tone mapping in Photomatix, then ends in Photos where I merge, blend, and edit the final HDR photo to perfection.
My thought at the time was “I’ll just edit them together in Photoshop.” Anytime you hear that voice in your head, it’s code for “Given 5+ hours, I could pull this together in Photoshop.” The next weekend I went out and bought a proper 11-16mm wide angle lens (something I should’ve done a long time ago).
Bracketed Photos for the Panorama
Each one of the six shots below represents 5 bracketed photos. That makes 30 total photos used in making this HDR panorama. Note how much the frames overlap. In this case, I was a bit excessive with the overlap, but the more similarities Photoshop can find, the more accurately it can blend the photos. I usually aim to have about 33% overlap.
Initial Panorama Stitch
Rather than use Photoshop’s Photomerge plug-in, I prefer to employ only the Edit > Auto Align. Then I mask and blend the aligned layers by hand to make sure no pesky ninjas got in and misaligned the source frames during processing.