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When it comes to the final presentation of our images, I am a firm believer in cropping to make the image "feel" correct. True it should be done as best as one can in-camera, but some scenes don't always appear their best shot to 35mm aspect ratio. While on a recent shoot in Fresno County for spring wildflowers, I was having trouble finding a focal point for the beautifully flower-carpeted hills. As the sun began to rise, the play of light and shadow transformed the rather flat looking hillsides into a 3-dimensional scene. The highlight suddenly revealed what appeared to be old-tire tracks, and that became a focal point (a place for the eye to jump on and off while exploring the scene). It was just a matter for me to decide how much (or how little) I wanted to include in the final image.
I started photographing this scene and soon realized I was trying to include too much information - my intended visual message of highlight, shadow, flowers, and color, was going to be weakened by including too much of the scene. I visualized in my mind how the finished scene should look, and I decided a panoramic crop would work best. Even though I work with a 21-megapixel camera, which yields 60-meg (8-bit) files, I knew a single frame, cropped to a pano, would hold too little information. Thus, I decided to shoot four horizontal frames and stitch them together in Photoshop CS4. Photoshop's Photomerge tool really became usable with the release of CS3 (wish I could say the same about their HDR and Focus Blend tools). I have a "how-to" article on my website as a free PDF download, which will walk you through the procedure. Click here Writings/Articles and scroll down to the January 2009 article: Fixing Problem Panoramas with Photoshop CS4 Photomerge.
The resulting image was saved as a TIFF, then I reopened it through Bridge into Adobe Camera RAW and began my usual workflow of global correcting, then I opened the image into Photoshop to work on localized corrections. I actually used Nik Viveza 2 to balance the contrast between the lefthand-side shadow and the sunlit highlight. I also warmed the scene slightly and used a bit of the Structure command to give the image some "pop."
By stitching the four images, I ended-up with a 160-meg file (of which I cut down to 52-megs for Getty). In retrospect, I would have been better served by combining multiple vertical images as it would have allowed me more room to crop from top-to-bottom. Nonetheless, this is just about how I envisioned the final image in my mind's eye.
My Website: "how to" articles, galleries, stock photos, and more...
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III