I was out in Sedona a week ago and shot the top two panorama shots you see here. They were taken about 3 minutes apart from each other as the sun was setting and clouds were randomly obscuring and then revealing the sun on the horizon. I like them both for different reasons, but the middle one seemed a bit too harsh for my liking, and the top one seemed... maybe not punchy enough.

I originally created the panoramas out of about 10 individual photos for the top one and 25 for the middle one. Settings for the top one: 130mm, f/13, 1/4 sec, ISO 100. Settings for the middle: 190mm, f/13, 0.6 sec, ISO 100. Both were taken with my 70-200mm 2.8 IS II USM on my Canon 6D.

So, not being completely pleased with either result, I finally had the idea to combine them in Photoshop. Given that the top panorama used a wider focal length and fewer images, I had to take a hit on max resolution, but that doesn’t really matter much when you’re working with a 280(!!!) megapixel file.

I ended up erasing much of the top panorama that was laid over the middle one in Photoshop, but I used key parts of it to add more dimension and shadow to certain areas, as well as adding in the bottom detailing. I just kept the eraser set to a soft setting to blend it. Then dodged and burned a few areas, and voila! I love it. Knowing me, I’ll still probably tweak it a bit, but I like it for now.

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My biggest problem with these is that I was trying to shoot many images rapidly as the sun was setting, and I was using a rather slow shutter speed. Some of you may see where I’m going with this. Because I was moving the camera on the tripod, I didn’t always let it properly settle before snapping the next shot, which caused some motion blurring. And the focus was not absolutely 100% correct in every shot (I must have bumped it at some point), though it was still correct enough to be usable. The motion blur was the bigger problem.

So lesson learned: bump ISO to increase shutter speed and eliminate motion blur, or perhaps leave the Image Stabilizer on even though it’s on a tripod. When working rapidly, and especially while hanging out on a very steep, soft spot like I was, make sure to account for motion blur even if you think it won’t be a problem. If I could go back, I’d probably try to take a test shot with the IS activated, then check the shot thoroughly in the viewfinder. If that’s not enough, or actually works against me, then just deactivate it and bump the ISO to 400-800. Noise isn’t much of a problem anyway when dealing with a pano like this AND a high quality full frame sensor like the 6D’s. Getting the shot absolutely spot on perfect is more important. Otherwise you might as well just shoot with a wide lens and crop the sky and ground out.

And now, I want to go back out west and just shoot landscapes all day.