Tuesday, March 8, 2016

TILT-SHIFT LENS: Taking Undistorted Pics & Panorama Photo Tips

TILT-SHIFT LENS and Taking Panorama Photos

The above video gives a good explanation of what Tilt and Shift lenses do and when and how to use these lenses effectively. You can correct the (perspective) distortions when using normal lenses for those situations as explained above using Photoshop but you lose more than 40% of your pixels when you do so. It may also be more inconvenient if you often take those kinds of photos and therefore have to tweak often using Photoshop, rather than using the tilt-shift lens straight up.


© PhotographyPassions.XYZ

With panoramas, while you can take these with the tilt-shift lens you could also do it manually by shifting your body. You do need to keep very still while panning right or left but it can be done. The best way to ensure a good panoramic effect is to mount your camera on a tripod stand and then move the lever sideways or horizontally with a smooth and regular action but not vertically.

If you move up and down (as well as sideways) you may find (vertical) distortions in your final photo and the frames will not match up. Where there are big differences in your vertical position of adjacent frames, the final result will be unusable - actually the result will be disastrous!!

It is simple to take a panorama with a mobile camera. Set the mode to 'panorama' then:
  1. stand comfortably where you can swivel your body through 180 degrees or more,
  2. position your camera in your hand for the best shot, at the best level (eg. more sea? less sea and more sky? etc.),
  3. make sure your fingers are out of the frame's view!
  4. ensure your scarf or hair is tied securely out of the way on a windy day - yes it has happened to me where the scarf blew into the photo's view!
  5. start by clicking the camera icon once, then begin panning - it has already started even if there is nothing to indicate that the 'take' is on! So keep panning...
  6. keep very still as you shift YOUR ARM without abrupt movement HORIZONTALLY,
  7. look into the guide on your camera to ensure you don't move up or down vertically - if you start to veer correct your position quickly but smoothly,
  8. to stop the shoot, click the camera icon again without jerking the phone,
  9. move slowly throughout the shoot, if you move too fast your phone will tell you off!
  10. if you attach your phone to a tripod stand for stability then move the handle to swivel horizontally you will probably get very good results.  
The above hold-phone-in-hand technique is great for those impromptu moments when you do NOT have fancy photographic equipment on you! For best results, move slowly and smoothly throughout the shoot. Also shoot in good light, if lighting is poor your phone will not be able to take a panorama - take night photos or videos instead if the view beckons!

The great advantage of this technique is that once you stop filming, the camera automatically and effortlessly (on your part) 'stitches' the frames into a seamless view within seconds and then, voila! you have an instant photo (hopefully fantastic) to upload / download or just enjoy.
All this without having to use additional software or effort! You may edit the photo like normal viz. crop, resize, etc. and depending on your phone settings the results are HD. The longer your panorama (more frames) the larger the file.  It is not uncommon for files to exceed 4k, with high definition.


Panning Issues: If you veer off-course vertically and gradually but not abruptly, you will find that your panorama will have a crooked horizon but may still be usable (if its aesthetics is not too affected by this vertical error). If not, repeat - take a few just to be on the safe side. The best way to resolve this issue is to practice often. This way you will also learn to adapt to your particular camera model's idiosyncrasies to get the best from its specs. (Phone cameras are so powerful these days but often consumers are only tapping a fraction of their innate capabilities.)

Vertical errors are glaringly noticeable in landscape photos where it's good practice to keep the horizon straight so it is best to discard bad pics and repeat the panorama shoot again. You get an extra buzz when you take a good panorama so it's well worth the effort for the sake of yourself and your fans.

Exposure Issues: Panning over a large or long area means that your exposures will vary from one end to the other sometimes eg. if panning from coastal to inner city locations - so this will be evident in your results eg. hazy and lacklustre over the inner city (due to cloudy conditions and/or smog) while bright and colourful over the coast where it's sunny and smog-free).  Live with it, pan differently or pick another day especially if you live in a region that is subject to wide, daily or even hourly, weather variations?

Passerby, Wind Issues: The one factor you cannot control is someone moving unexpectedly past your viewfinder CLOSE UP while you are filming, especially in a crowded venue, if not directly in front of you at the start then somewhere within that 180+ degree view while you are panning!

While some people are lovely, not everyone is considerate of your photo efforts and can ruin what would otherwise be a fantastic shot! Keep calm though, note that it takes all kinds and avoid them if you can as you repeat your shoot. With some practice it will be easy enough to take a good panorama but pick a less busy time and also a non-windy day or sheltered spot to lessen filming shakiness whenever possible - this will pay dividends in the long run and make the process more enjoyable.

Google+ Sharing: This is not an issue as such but you may be interested to know that when you post panorama pics from panoramio.com onto Google+ the photo will not load in your post. So if that is an issue post other, 'normal' photos instead , eg. see it in action here where panorama posts have NO images compared to non-panorama posts.

Panorama Examples: For examples of panoramas that I have taken using this technique, view here:

City Lookout Panorama

Wellington Harbour Panorama

Frank Kitts Park Panorma

More Frank Kitts Park Photos