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Wide Angle Blue Lake with Mountains in the Background

Wide Angle Blue Lake with Mountains in the Background

Step 1

This image is of the upper Rae Lake in Kings Canyon National Park.  The Rae Lakes Loop is the hike that takes you back there (which is about ~20 miles from the nearest road access).

Given that this shot is taken so far into the backcountry one of your biggest challenges is going to be your gear.  What do you bring, as equipment is very heavy.  For a tripod solution I have a very lightweight travel tripod that I use or the SLR version of the Gorilla Pod tripods.  Both work really well in the backcountry and are relatively lightweight.

For this image I used the gorilla pod slr tripod.  I put it on a rock overlooking the Upper Rae Lake.  This image is actually a composite of about ~7 images stiched together to create a panorama.

Step 2

When creating a panoramic shot you have several difficulties to work with.  

First is that you need your camera's settings to be in some sort of a static mode.  This imcludes focusing, aperture, and shutter speed.  That way your focus and expsoure is the same in each image in the sequence.

Second is that for a successful lake shot, you need to be up early in the morning to capture the lake when there is as little wind as possible.  That way the lake is smooth and crystal clear.  Otherwise you will run into issues with certain images in your panoramic sequence showing evidence of small wakes or ripples while the other images do not show them.  

Lastly is that the location is far off the beaten track.  In this case this was ~20 miles from the nearest road.  Unfrotunately we were not camping there for the night (just passing through) and so I was unable to take images at sunrise or sunset.  We passed through at roughly 11am, which at 10,500 ft elevation is probably a horrible time of day to capture images.  To compensate for this I had to us an ISO setting of 100, aperture of f3.0 and a shutter speed of 1/800s.  The image would have a much more dynamic sky if I had been there earlier or later in the day.

Step 3

This was a panoramic image, so most of my post production work was done in terms of stitching the image together and making sure that it was smooth and clean.  When you stitch a panoramic like this together several things can happen.

Distortion:  If there is a lot of image distortion or image bending, then there may not be much you can do.  This is often cause by depth of field problems.  Image captureing a small rock in front of you combined with a large mountain.  As you pivot or change positions to capture the image, the depth of field or vantage point for the small rock in front of you changes.  Often it is advised to avoid small object immeditately in front of you (or have them included in a way that does not traverse the entire image sequence).  If you enounter this issue there may be little you can do to solve the issue, although some advanced panoramic programs have feature that help to compensate for some of this.

You will find that there may be a decent amount of clone stamp work that needs to be done.  Maybe a small bit of uneven overlap occured at the edges or small particles fon't match up exactly.  In this image a few mins with the clone stamp tool were needed to clean up some of the areas where the different images in the sequence met up with each other.

Skill Level
Intermediate

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Author Bio

Ben Hall

Ben Hall

Ben Hall lives in the San Francisco Bay Area working as a software engineer. Photography is a side passion that Ben can't seem to get enough of. His favorite subjects are Landscapes, Underwater and action shots.


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