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Old May 20, 2013, 01:23 AM   #1
Laird Knox
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Experiment: Long Exposure Panoramas

So I came up with the crazy idea to see if it was possible to create a long exposure panorama (LEP). This would allow for the combination of panoramas, long exposures and light painting.

My first attempt was a dismal failure and Photoshop wouldn't touch the stitching with a ten foot batch. I changed my approach and was able to get two successful LEPs.





While these worked they were shot at 50mm and had their own issues. I had to shoot the first one from across the street so I was unable to get the angle I wanted on the bus and wagon.

In the second one I spent an hour running around light painting the joshua trees and yucca plants. When it came time to stich the image most of the foreground was cropped out due to the perspective.

The tax man was kind enough to refund a few of my dollars so I ordered some Nikon 28mm f2.8 AI-S goodness. I didn't want to go too wide since I was already doing a pano.





The new glass worked well. I would have preferred faster glass so I wouldn't have to crank the ISO so much on the Milky Way shot. The final images are weighing in at 50-60 MP with a typical ratio of 7.5 x 18.

Photoshop still complained about some of the stiches. I think it doesn't like the star trails as the problems seemed to be on images that had more sky. I gave Autopano Pro a try and it worked really well. I ended up buying the Autopano Giga version as it offered more control. This was a good thing as a couple of other LEPs required the extra control.

Overal I am really happy with the results. I am now trying to identify new vistas for the technique.
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Old May 20, 2013, 01:42 AM   #2
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Really well done Jeff. An interesting self-challenge and well worth the effort by the looks. I also swear by Autopano Giga, Photoshop was close to useless for me with regard of pano's, regardless of whether they were day or night shots. Hugin for some reason I found infuriating to learn to use, others swear by it.

Just out of interest, how far from the city lights do you have to be to get clear light-trail shots? We are pretty much in the tail end of suburbia, country regions start in about 4 kilometres from here.
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Old May 20, 2013, 02:23 AM   #3
Laird Knox
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It really depends. Can you see the stars? Then so can your camera.

Seriously though, the second image is of Red Rock Canyon. I am just on the other side of a hill from Las Vegas. I had the Moon at my back lighting up the mountains but even on a dark night you can shoot them due to the Vegas light. If I had turned around the glow would have blown out the sky.

If I can I like to stick to ISO 100 or 400 with an aperture of 5.6 or 8. Too much light and the trails get overpowering and very busy. I stack 30 second exposures for the trails mainly because the built in intervelometer on the camera will only do a max of 30 seconds. I would like to do two to four minutes and will be experimenting with the intervelometer capabilites of the CamRanger soon.

I wouldn't push the exposure much over four minutes or you will start to get a lot of noise and a loss of contrast. It also lets you do comet trails like the Last Supper picture. Longer exposures wouldn't have had the same effect.

It definitely isn't something for the faint of heart (or low on disk space). The first image is made up of 173 exposures (86 on the left and 87 on the right). The next one is 250 in total. During editing some of my files have reached over 4GB and the project folder for six of these panos hit 200GB.
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Old May 21, 2013, 08:20 PM   #4
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Jeff, thanks a lot for the detailed and thoughtful response. Many hints there from you and it's truly appreciated. Yet another thing to go play and learn about....
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Old May 22, 2013, 11:00 AM   #5
Laird Knox
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If you get too many stars it becomes more abstract.



This was my first stack. I was trying to catch meteors and left the camera setup for six hours. It was in the dark skies over Death Valley last year. The pine trees are lit up in about 100 of the frames by our campfire. As you can see there was no wind that night. Very unusual considering we were at 8000 feet.

Since I didn't catch any meteors I looked up stacking when I got home. This is the unedited JPGs right off the camera. I also worked with the RAWs and removed the airplanes but didn't end up with a better final image.
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Old May 24, 2013, 08:55 AM   #6
pna
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These are really great! Thanks for posting.

Out of curiosity, how many shots were in each panorama that you stitched and then stacked? And how did you keep consistent in shooting the same sections of the panorama repeatedly? For a typical one of these it would seem straightforward just to park the camera on the tripod and let it keep shooting, but I'm imagining that you had to keep shifting it to capture other parts of the scene, and doing that in a way that's repeatable strikes me as a real challenge.

Great work.
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Old May 24, 2013, 09:13 AM   #7
GoCubsGo
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These are really cool. I never thought of long exposure panos before. You did very well.
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Old May 24, 2013, 10:22 AM   #8
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Great shots! I have been wanting to try some long exposure shots like yours. Now I have the inspiration.
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Old May 25, 2013, 12:53 AM   #9
I AM THE MAN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laird Knox View Post
So I came up with the crazy idea to see if it was possible to create a long exposure panorama (LEP). This would allow for the combination of panoramas, long exposures and light painting.

My first attempt was a dismal failure and Photoshop wouldn't touch the stitching with a ten foot batch. I changed my approach and was able to get two successful LEPs.

Image

Image

While these worked they were shot at 50mm and had their own issues. I had to shoot the first one from across the street so I was unable to get the angle I wanted on the bus and wagon.

In the second one I spent an hour running around light painting the joshua trees and yucca plants. When it came time to stich the image most of the foreground was cropped out due to the perspective.

The tax man was kind enough to refund a few of my dollars so I ordered some Nikon 28mm f2.8 AI-S goodness. I didn't want to go too wide since I was already doing a pano.

Image

Image

The new glass worked well. I would have preferred faster glass so I wouldn't have to crank the ISO so much on the Milky Way shot. The final images are weighing in at 50-60 MP with a typical ratio of 7.5 x 18.

Photoshop still complained about some of the stiches. I think it doesn't like the star trails as the problems seemed to be on images that had more sky. I gave Autopano Pro a try and it worked really well. I ended up buying the Autopano Giga version as it offered more control. This was a good thing as a couple of other LEPs required the extra control.

Overal I am really happy with the results. I am now trying to identify new vistas for the technique.

Really nice little project! All the pictures came out fantastic! Perchance, do you know/remember the settings or EXIF data for the 3rd picture?
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Old May 25, 2013, 06:58 PM   #10
Laird Knox
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pna View Post
These are really great! Thanks for posting.

Out of curiosity, how many shots were in each panorama that you stitched and then stacked? And how did you keep consistent in shooting the same sections of the panorama repeatedly? For a typical one of these it would seem straightforward just to park the camera on the tripod and let it keep shooting, but I'm imagining that you had to keep shifting it to capture other parts of the scene, and doing that in a way that's repeatable strikes me as a real challenge.

Great work.
That was the issue I was trying to overcome. The way I resolved it was to use two cameras.

The first two were shot with matched 50mm lenses and that just wasn't wide enough. (Although they were cheap and that worked for testing the theory.) The second two were shot with 24mm f2.8 AI-S manual focus lenses. I like the results I got with them.

At first I tried to set the cameras up on separate tripods while aligning the focal planes. This did not work even with distant subjects like the first image. There was still too much parallax error between the building and the mountains. I then put both cameras on the same tripod and got my fist successful stitch. I have since played with the exact setup and am getting fairly consistent results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by I AM THE MAN View Post
Really nice little project! All the pictures came out fantastic! Perchance, do you know/remember the settings or EXIF data for the 3rd picture?
The Milky Way shots were with the 24mm f2.8 lenses. They were wide open at f2.8 and I was pushing the ISO to 1600 I believe. The exposure time was between 10 and 15 seconds. I think at 15 seconds I was starting to see some elongation of the stars. I will have to double check when I get home.

If I had the 24 f1.4 lenses I could theoretically take the same shot at ISO 400 or push it for a bit more exposure in the stars. I just wasn't ready to buy a pair of $2000 lenses.
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Old May 31, 2013, 12:22 PM   #11
Laird Knox
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I just checked the original files and the Milky Way was shot at 28mm, f2.8, ISO 1600, 15 seconds. Not sure what I was saying 24mm above. I don't have any 24mm primes.

Both cameras were set the same.
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Old Jun 6, 2013, 01:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laird Knox View Post
If you get too many stars it becomes more abstract.

Image

This was my first stack. I was trying to catch meteors and left the camera setup for six hours. It was in the dark skies over Death Valley last year. The pine trees are lit up in about 100 of the frames by our campfire. As you can see there was no wind that night. Very unusual considering we were at 8000 feet.

Since I didn't catch any meteors I looked up stacking when I got home. This is the unedited JPGs right off the camera. I also worked with the RAWs and removed the airplanes but didn't end up with a better final image.
I love that effect! Can you explain how to do it in very amateur terms? I have a 600D so can do long exposure etc.
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