Night Photography: Paul's Junkyard Panorama

Paul's Junkyard Panorama -- by Joe Reifer
Paul's Junkyard Panorama -- by Joe Reifer

This full moon night panorama is composed of 7 images shot with the 5D Mark II and an Olympus OM 18mm lens. This lens displays optimal sharpness at f/8 or f/11, and was stopped down to f/11 for depth of field -- the foreground objects were about 3 feet from the camera. The view is about 180 degrees -- the truck on the right edge of the frame is in front of the crane on the far left.

To minimize star movement between shots I bumped the ISO to 800 and used an exposure of 90 seconds per shot. I used a leveling base to keep the rotational axis the same on each image -- this helps keep as much detail near the edges as possible when cropping the stitched image. Another trick is to crop loosely and use content aware fill on the edges of the frame. Photoshop CS5 was used for stitching using a Cylindrical projection.

For compositions where there aren't details within a few feet of the camera, a fast wide angle prime that's sharp across the frame at f/4 would allow for some pretty quick pano shooting during a full moon. Set the focus at 20 feet, and everything from 10 feet to infinity is in focus with a 21mm lens. Exposures of 30 seconds each would show minimum star movement, allowing better stitching and accurate star positions. There may be more night panoramas in my future.