The subject for November’s Online Competition was “Panoramas” and most entrants went for a landscape theme, using panoramas to try and recreate the magnificent sights they were witnessing. A few decided to go for interior shots and these produced some really interesting results, again conveying more than a standard image would. It wasn’t be easy to pick a winner but that’s the task Steve A Wood had this month and his very comprehensive comments and decisions are given below.
This is my second time judging an online competition so you can take my comments with a pinch of salt. I do like to give some feedback on every image just so the author understands the reasoning behind my decision . I used a set of criteria for judging the images including Exposure, Depth of field, correct focus, composition, and processing and for the panorama theme, is it stitched well? As ever with the online entries, they are limited in physical size, I see them on my screen at the same size as you do so if there are errors in the image, they may not be easily visible. I am no expert in Panorama’s however I have found that when taking one, you can end up concentrating on the scene so much that the composition can end up losing out, and an element of cropping is needed to remove the distortion of land at the bottom of the scene. There are specific types of Tripod heads that allow for this but good technique and allowing for this at the PP stage can still yield good results.
Panorama photography is not just for DSLR’s and tripods, as there are now panorama options built in to smart phones which provide quick if not sometimes quirky and distorted results, but i think it is still best to pop the camera on a tripod and take your time to getting enough overlap on the images to ensure that the stitching process is made easier in post processing. The panorama process does not have to be limited to 1 plane of axis, or a single exposure before moving to the next image in the sequence. Sometimes bracketing a number of images to get the best exposure is needed. This is image would have been my entry had I not been judging, it was a combination of 7 bracketed images x 9 sequences (63 photos) with the camera in the portrait position to get the detail on the shadow side of castle hill, and avoid the sun from burning out (click on it to see a larger version).
Ok enough waffle, on to the results
Panorama inside the Colosseum, Rome – The detail in the Colosseum is sharp front to back and the exposure on the building is good. The composition works well with the curvature of the building wrapping round the base and the stitching appears to have been done well. The sky seems to have been dropped in to replace an overly bright possibly over exposed original sky, as the post processing has not included the little windows to the left and far centre.
Staithes Panorama – This image stood out immediately, the buildings stand out at the front of the image and the curvature of the sea inlet adds to the composition. The removal of the sky has been a good choice as t appears to have been just a clear blue which would have added little to the scene. The stitching is been handled well with no obvious errors that i can see. The only criticism i have is the white buildings to the left are a little too bright and possibly could be toned down?
Around the Room – A different take on the panorama theme and initially stood out as it is a 360 degree shot of a room, however i find myself constantly scanning the image without settling any where. The image has been exposed well given the bright lights in the scene, and the stitching appears to be good if not a little distorted. I would have like to have seen more of the lower half of the room integrated into the image and possibly turning the camera into the portrait position would have been able to get this in the shot.
Storm Clouds – Lets Get Home – I liked the seascape in this image, the curves on the beach add to the scene, in addition to the personal element. The B & W treatment helps add a bit of detail to the clouds. Exposure is good throughout and the focus seems good front to back. Unfortunately the processing of the panorama stitching has let the image down. There are visible lines along the horizon where the images have been joined. The horizon is also leaning and curved. I can’t tell if the image was shot on a tripod, but would recommend this if not for future.
Greenhow Quarry – I liked this idea behind this panorama, the size of the quarry and the machinery help to give the sense of scale. The exposure is a little dark on my screen, and the quarry may benefit from a little more contrast to bring the detail out. The stitching appears to have been done well, however there seems to be a very green colour cast to the image? I was also left wondering if the composition would have benefited by the camera being located in front of the 3 sign boards, making use of the curved wall and possibly giving a better view into the depths of the quarry?
Monument Valley at Sunset – What a great scene! The road running left to right with the vehicles gives a great sense of scale whilst adding to the composition. The 3 prominent stacks draw the eye straight into the scene. The stitching appears to have been handled very well. Exposure is slightly on the dark side on my monitor, but a levels adjustment should sort this. My criticism would be that there appears to be some lens flare just above the right hand stack, and i wonder if the image would benefit from a crop to the top of the image to lose some of the sky and put the horizon on the upper third.
Staithes – A different viewpoint of the coastal town of Staithes. I do prefer this composition of Staithes to the previous one, however the lighting makes the previous image pop, which sadly for this image it was obviously taken on a typical British summer day ;-). The overall exposure is good, as is the composition, it looks sharp front to back and the processing has been handled well. If i’m being picky there is a slight curvature of the sea on the horizon which could be cleaned up in post.
Sierra Nevada Foothills – Another fabulous location where the panorama treatment works well to give the sense of scale of the mountains in the background. The stitching appears to have been done well, along with the exposure and the depth of field. Compositionally, i think the image could be better. There is a little too much road for me and i would be tempted to lose most of it. This would help to make the houses in the center more prominent.
Library of Congress – Another internal interpretation of the panorama theme. I really like the idea of these type of panoramas. I like the composition of the entrances and walkways roughly on the thirds. The image is sharp front to back, but the exposure is burnt out on the windows / doors due to exposing for the interior and maybe a bracketing approach may have been beneficial (if a tripod is permitted inside?) I find my self wanting to see more of the ceiling, but a good attempt.
New Zealand Tranquility – Another fantastic location, the title sets the mood perfectly. The mirror like reflection is great and the exposure has been handled well. Depth of field is good as there is detail in the mountains in the distance. I wonder whether the image would benefit from a crop to and bottom, the featureless sky could be reduced in addition to losing the grass at the bottom which has been lost due to the turning of the camera to record the panorama.
Ok onto the results
In third place Staithes – sadly the lighting just kept this image from scoring higher.
In second place – Monument Valley at Sunrise – Just a few more tweaks would have put this on top.
The winner goes to Staithes Panorama – It initially stood out when i first looked through the images.
Thank you for the submissions. – Steve A Wood
Thanks for all your detailed comments Steve. So there you have it. Congrats to the winners and the gallery is below. The last Online Competition of the year (there’s just the overall winner in December) so keep a look out for both the best of the year and the subjects for next year.