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I captured the featured photo while hiking along the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail in Hawaii (Oahu). The main two attractions of the trail are Hanauma Bay and Koko Head Mountain. When I was planning my sunrise hike, I knew that I wanted to capture both attractions in one composition with Koko Head in the background.
When I saw the actual place, I realized that capturing both attractions in one composition would be more challenging than I expected. There was no way I could place both the bay and the mountain into the same composition, as the landscape was too wide.
This is when I decided to take a series of shots and later stitch them into the panorama in Photoshop.
I set up my camera on the tripod in portrait orientation, using the L-Bracket. The L-Bracket allows you to switch from landscape orientation to portrait orientation in seconds.
I used a focal length of 16mm on my Sony 10-18mm lens. I opted not to use the widest 10mm focal length in order to minimize distortion.
First, I took a couple of shots in Aperture Priority mode (F/8) and, with the help of histogram I pinpointed the right value for the shutter speed. Then, I switched to Manual Mode and set the following values: F/8, 1/250, ISO 100.
I shot in Bracketing Mode and took three brackets at 1EV intervals. I ended up with 15 shots in total (5 series of 3 shots).
Processing Panorama in Lightroom & Photoshop
I imported 15 RAW files to Lightroom.
Since I was shooting directly into the sun, my initial intention was to merge bracketed shots to HDR before stitching the panorama. But after I did some tests in Lightroom I realized that it was not necessary and it was possible to edit the image as a single shot and achieve the same result. The dynamic range of the scene was reduced by the clouds.
Before stitching the panorama, I applied the only 2 edits to all 5 images. I wanted to minimize the lens distortion before merging the panels.
I selected 5 individual RAW files and using the command (right/option-click) Photo Merge > Panorama… sent them to the panorama module of Lightroom.
In Panorama Options, I selected Cylindrical Projection because the default Spherical option produced the panorama which was too narrow.
I intentionally unchecked the Auto Crop option to have more control over the cropping.
After I clicked the Merge button.
Since I was merging five 24Mp files, it took Lightroom a good 30-40sec to stitch them together.
Next, I used the Cropped Tool to create a panorama image with a 16×9 aspect ratio.
The last step in Lightroom was to use Rapid Editing to create an appealing LOOK.
I used the Natural preset from Lightroom Preset Collection first and later added some TOOLKIT adjustments.
Lightroom Editing Formula: Natural (9, 16, 30, 34)
At that point, my Lightroom editing was done.I selected the final image and used the command (right/option-click) Edit In > Edit In Adobe Photoshop to open it in Photoshop.
The first step of Photoshop editing was to fill up the gaps in the area of the sky and the grass (see above). I used the Spot Healing Brush Tool and painted over the empty areas. Photoshop did the rest by filling empty areas with the right texture.
The rest was standard Photoshop processing: cleaning, contrast, vignetting, noise reduction
When I was done and was ready to save panorama as the final JPEG I decided to add one more touch. I used the Topaz Star Effects plugin to add subtle a starburst effect.
Deconstructing Featured Photo
- Camera: Sony a6000
- Lens: Sony 10-18
- Focal Length: 16mm
- ISO: 100
- Aperture: F8
- Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
- Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442
Processing: Lightroom Rapid Editing
Lightroom: import, tagging, Panorama Merge, Rapid Editing, Lightroom Editing Formula Natural (9, 16, 30, 34).
Photoshop: Cleaning with the Stamp Tool, contrast, color correction.
- Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (sky, water).
- Topaz Detail was used to enhance details in the foreground and the mountains.
- Topaz Star Effects was used to add a starburst effect.