Sometimes in nature photography you are pleasantly surprised. After a beautiful sunrise, our morning in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota looked bleak, light-wise. Clouds obscured the sun’s golden morning light and I thought landscape photography was going to be a bust. Instead I ended up getting one of my favorite shots of the trip.
I had shot some panoramic series of frames the day before, but they weren’t as interesting because the sky was mostly clear. The image below more than made up for those false starts. The western sky was filled with a storm front moving our way, and I knew that this sky was the hero of the day.
The image is comprised of five vertical orientation captures, each overlapped about 20%. Without using a special panoramic tripod head, you have to be careful to keep the horizon level and in the same place for each shot. I also like to be quick about it, because the sky and clouds are in constant motion.
As for software, there are several options, but the two that I’ve tried and prefer are Photoshop CS5 and Autopano Giga. The other cool thing about a multi-shot panorama like this is you end up with a huge file, enabling a very large print. This panorama ended up being 7523 pixels wide and 2906 pixels tall, a 22-Megapixel image!