Mt. Ranier from above Chinook Pass (with Foreground) by Daniel Colvin Via Flickr: Feeling long winded today, so skip all this if you don’t want a bunch of photo geek talk!
Ok, so as I was getting ready to get all painterly on this image I realized I had shot a lower tier of foreground frames for the superpano. ( for me, ‘superpano’ means its a panorama in both vertical and horizontal directions, in this case there are about 5 frames across and three up and down) I decided it would be worth the work to add it in, and in fact I like this result better. Usually I’m disciplined enough to shoot my panorama images at a lens of around 35mm, which means lots and lots of frames to put together. For some reason on this occasion I shot the frames at 24mm, which means the optical distortion at the edges of each shot make for very difficult match up, especially in the foreground. But lucky for me I’ve got a bag of tricks to make it work. :)
Why do I do this? Why go to all the trouble? Why not just get a wide angle lens and make the shot that way?
For one, I get a very high resolution result, like having an 8x10 negative, and I can print these landscapes around 60" across (one things I’m interested in is how landscapes play in a large print where your eye can 'step in’ to the image)
Another reason is that I can vary the focus, and to some extent, the exposure in the various layers of the image. I shot the foreground here about a stop and a half brighter than the mid ground, which helps to compensate for what is a very wide dynamic range in the scene. This is the digital equivalent of having a grad ND filter I suppose.
Even if I did go to the trouble of hauling an 8x10 camera to these locations, I would spend a *long time* setting it up and only have so much film to expose before being done. With this technique, I can grab a panorama like this in a few moments and then hike on for the next opportunity (which in fact I did here and I hope to show you that one soon)
But even if I did have an 8x10 the optics of the shot would not be the same. As I said this was shot with a series of 24mm frames that, put together, give me a field of view of around a 9mm lens. But a 9mm lens would have heavy distortion and give a different look entirely. I’ve come to believe that landscapes put together this way, more closely resemble the way our flesh and blood eyes and brain see the image when we are actually standing there in the environment.