This photo shows the city of Hamburg and its tri-anual fair “Hamburger Dom”. This is part of the panorama that I shot using the Olympus E-M1 Mark 2 in High-Res Mode. I only used 4 shots and combined them into Lightroom. Later I downsized it to a 115 Megapixel version that was better to handle (and more than big enough).
For larger versions check:
- flickr (for a larger version of this edit)
- 500px (same, but on 500px instead)
- gigapan (for the full panorama and a better zooming experience)
The process of making this image
I set the camera on a tripod (it wasn’t as sturdy as I wanted it to be for this) with the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8. The individual shots were taken at 57mm, f5.6 and ISO 200. Each shot took 0.7s and was shot in High-Res, which means the camera took 8 pictures and combined that into an enormous 80 Megapixel RAW file. This boosts the exposure of each image to 5.6 seconds. I then shot 4 of these large images and combined them in Lightroom. This resulted in a 200 Megapixel, 544 MB DNG RAW file.
After some experimentation with zooming in and out, however, I decided that the gain in details was not significant at full resolution. Instead I would get the best results at 100% magnification, if I downsampled it to about 115 Megapixels and the image size would be much easier to handle as well.
I proceeded to edit it accordingly, getting the exposure and colours right and then took the file into photoshop. I took the same panorama before and after the sun had already set, but I preferred the light of the photo just after sunset, while I wanted the setting sun in the photo as well. So I had no choice but to do a little bit of cheating and composited the sun from another shot back into it.
After I was done in Lightroom, I just needed a few more touchups. Those were really just details, but I wanted a flare in the photo – however, if I took the actual flare from the sunset, it would have looked horrible. More on the challenges of getting this shot below. This was the final image I ended up with.
Of course I did some cropping for various image services (more towards a 16:9 ratio for most photo sites and closer to a 4:3 ratio for Instagram) and uploaded the whole thing to gigapan.
Now on to some of the challenges I encountered while shooting this photo.
- The main challenge was, trying to get the light correct. The photos from before the sunset were not giving off good lighting yet, the horizon and sky were nice, but the rest looked too flat. When the sun finally set, the light was perfect (but there was no more sun). So even though I’m not a big fan of it, I had to do some compositing to get the best out of both.
- The second huge challenge: I had to shoot from a building where the windows only tilt, so you have to shoot through windows that are not lens-grade glass and aren’t fully clean either. To make matters worse, 10cm in front of the window was yet another safety window. So I was shooting through 2 windows. I could completely get rid of the reflections from inside by turning off the lights and using a black backdrop behind the camera – but against the refractions within the windows from outside – there was little I could do. I tried to position the camera as straight as possible in alignment with the windows to get the refractions as close as possible together.
One example where you can see this problem quite clearly:
The strong lights get refracted in both windows and I end up with double images of the lights. I felt very annoyed by this at first and started to remove them in Photoshop, but eventually I decided to leave them in. Not every last imperfection needs to be removed.
- Only a minor issue, but I usually shoot panoramas vertically. The problem was, I only brought a small travel tripod with me, because I wasn’t even sure if I had the time to shoot or if the weather was going to be right. The small tripod was not stable enough to shoot vertically, so I shot horizontally instead to not take the risk of dropping my camera on the floor.
- Shooting high-res mode can be tricky with even the slightest bit of movement. Wind was not a problem because I was shooting from inside, but if you can’t use a remote shutter, you have to delay the shot after pressing the shutter. Fortunately the E-M1 II does provide an option to set an initial delay for the high-res mode. I started out with 2 seconds, but this still produced slightly blurred images every now and then. Setting this to 4 seconds worked out fine. But this highly depends on your tripod and tripod head. If I used my main tripod, 2 seconds would have been plenty as that is immensely stable.
I am currently considering to print the image, but I will wait a few more weeks to do so. Sometimes I like an image when I see it for a few days, but then grow tired of it. That is also an important lesson for publishing and printing for yourself: check back a few days later and see if you still like the photo and your edit. I often ended up not posting stuff that I was excited about at first, but eventually didn’t deem good enough.