Perspective Control (PC) Lenses For Panoramas; Not Just For Architecture Anymore Page 2

But what I was really looking for was a way to do the panoramas quickly, with minimal fuss that would provide images with about the same aspect ratio as the 6x17cm format. Enter the PC lens. I discovered that after setting up a shot I could shift the lens fully to the left (or right) and shoot, then shift to the center position take another shot and finally shift to the full right (or left) and make a third exposure.

The three images that comprise the Point Piños panorama. For illustrative purposes I have made slight tonal adjustments and added a little sharpening to make them read a bit better. Normally all Photoshop optimizing is done after the panorama has been stitched together. Note the generous overlap. The images were shot with the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L shifted fully left, centered, and then shifted fully right. Exposure was set manually so that it didn't vary between shots. I also used a two-f/stop ND grad filter to darken the sky.

One caveat, though--it is important for the camera to be tripod mounted and carefully leveled for this technique to be effective. I have seen successful handheld panoramas, but that's inserting another variable into an already complicated process. With just a little care the resulting images composite easily and alignment is a breeze. Also, by shooting three images the overlap is sure to be adequate. At first I tried it with only two images, full left and full right shift, and although it did work the stitching process was much easier with three exposures.

The spring of 2005 was the best wildflower season in a decade or more in my part of the world and I had a ball using this technique. I even tried some macro panoramas by placing a 12mm extension tube behind the Canon TS-E 24mm to facilitate close focusing. This technique works with any lens that gives you the ability to shift. It can also be applied to vertical subjects by using the front rise feature on a view camera or rotating the PC lens to give a rise effect.

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