monpansm.jpg

OK, the headline makes it sound more dramatic than it really was; I was searching through Lightoom for a shot I took out in Utah’s Monument Valley (Click for a much larger version). The only reason I found this pano at all was that I use a little trick so I can spot panos while searching through hundreds of thumbnails:

Right before I start shooting my pano, I hold my index finger up in front of the lens and I crank off a shot (that lets me know where the pano starts). Then I shoot the pano (this one was made up of 10 shots), and after the last shot, I hold two fingers up in the front of the lens and crank off another, to let me know that I’ve reached the end of my pano. That way, when scrolling through hundreds of thumbnails, these “fingers” jump out at you, and that’s exactly what happened yesterday. I saw my outstretched finger and said, “Hey, I must have shot a pano!” and the images in the pano are the ones which appear between the two finger photos.

The photo itself isn’t particularly remarkable, but it does give a nice reference for the size and scale of Monument Valley, but beyond that what is remarkable is CS3′s Photomerge feature for stitching together panos. I didn’t do anything “right” when taking this pano. I just held up the camera, and cranked off 10 shots—no special tripod, I didn’t turn off Auto Focus, I didn’t do an exposure lock, the only rule I followed was that I let the photos overlap by about 20%, and son of gun if Photomerge didn’t perfectly align and balance the tone for all 10 photos automatically. If you shoot panos (or thought you’d ever want to), the Photomerge feature in CS3 is worth the entire upgrade price.