Dealing With Crowds in Panoramic Photos

I seem to like to make things hard on myself.

  • Lots of moving subjects (hundreds of people in fact)
  • Shifting horizons and foreground (waves)
  • Lack of a tripod (shot thus handheld in about 60 seconds)
But the moment was worth capturing.  I was in Huntington Beach (my birthplace in fact) and I really wanted a photo to capture the mood.  Of course it was just about noon (the light was awful).  That’s okay… the whole reason I enjoy Photoshop is the process of developing the picture in my mind’s eye.

The Shooting Process

Here’s how I pulled the shot off.

  1. I placed the camera into Aperture-priority mode because I needed a little automatic assistance to deal with the quick panning.  I knew that Photoshop could handle any subtle shifts when it blended.
  2. I set the camera to Raw to have much greater flexibility in exposure and tone.
  3. I squared my body to face the most interesting part of the action.
  4. I planted my feet about shoulder width apart and twisted at the waist.
  5. I shot two exposures for each position (to deal with moving subjects).
  6. I tried to pan my body smoothly and create about 50% overlap between exposures to avoid issues with people being accidentally cut off by movement.

The Post Process

Here’s how I completed the post. I used several features in Photoshop to get the job done.

  • Ran the Photomerge command.  Slightly dissatisfied with first results so ran it again (each time is a little different).
  • Adjusted the layer masks to clean up the blending of fast-moving objects.
  • Used Cloning, the Patch tool and Content Aware Fill to remove blemishes.
  • Popped Color with Vibrance
  • Controlled tone with Curves.
  • Used a Gradient Fill Layer and Photo Filter Layer to pop the sky.
  • Cropped to improve composition.
  • Performed Grayscale Toning.
  • Used Blending Modes and Blend If command.
Here’s the walk-through.

Huntington Beach Panorama from RHED Pixel on Vimeo.

What sort of tutorials do you want to see next?

About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on August 17, 2011, in Panoramic and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.