Vancouver skyline at sunset panorama

City of Vancouver skyline, sunset

Vancouver under a sunset

AWARD WINNING PHOTO – 2014 Epson International Pano Awards

The City of Vancouver is a stunningly beautiful place to live. The downtown core is surrounded by the waters of English Bay, False Creek and Coal Harbour, and is placed against a backdrop of Seymour, Grouse and Cypress mountains. On June 20th, which was just about the longest day of the year, the sun sets as far north as it is going to get, which is why you can see a nice sunset in this shot.

This is a panoramic image created with nine photos blended into one final image.

If you wish to use this photo for any purpose, please contact me.

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White Rock Beach Pier on a sunny day

White Rock Beach, sunny, Tim Shields Photography, Vancouver beach photos, photos

White Rock Beach Pier on a sunny day

The City of White Rock has an outstanding beach. On a sunny day it is pretty hard to beat. This photo actually has about 100 people in it, but I used a “Big Stopper” neutral density filter that allowed a very slow shutter speed of 25 seconds. Anyone who was moving around much during those 25 seconds completely disappeared from the photo.

This is an eight image panorama, blended into one final image.

Please contact me if you wish to use this photo for your blog, real estate page, etc.

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How to take a panorama photo in Las Vegas

Las Vegas strip panorama

The Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip high resolution panorama

View this one large to appreciate it.

I just got back from a shooting trip in Death Valley California, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, and Las Vegas. One of the highlights of the trip was the very unique opportunity to shoot from the rooftop of the Tropicana Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, which I did last night during the blue hour.

The challenge with this shooting opportunity was the unusual low wall that surrounds the roof. This waste-high wall has funny shaped triangular features that jut out and up about every five feet in a similar way to the top of a castle wall. This means that it was next to impossible to shoot a panorama without moving the tripod half way through the shots. To work around this problem I had to extend the camera horizontally out past the edge of the wall. As in, the camera needed to hang out out in space. This was not an easy feat to make happen. I extended one leg of the tripod that would sit on the rooftop. The other two legs were shortened and would sit on the edge of the low wall. The middle post of the Manfrotto tripod was flipped out horizontally and the camera ultimately sat about a foot out past the edge of the wall. I secured the camera with a safety line just in case, and weighed down the tripod with my camera bag because the weight of the camera cantilevered way out there was pulling the tripod over. This setup meant I couldn’t look through the viewfinder and had to complete the shoot using the LCD screen, which I am not crazy about.

As the sun set the nice blue hour light did its thing. I love that light! I took about 20 series of eight shots at various light levels and with various zoom settings. The final image is about 16,000 pixels across and the detail is amazing when zoomed up close.

This is not an HDR photo. This panorama was created using single images, but it speaks to the amazing dynamic range of the Nikon D800.

Here is how to take a panorama image in Las Vegas:

But first, the three things to avoid are:

1. Blown out highlights – Horrid!
2. Image noise – Evil!
3. Image blur – Pure evil!

Use a very solid tripod. Slow shutter speeds mean the slightest shake will kill your final image.

Use a wired or wireless shutter release. Don’t touch your camera or you will get blur. If you don’t have an external shutter release, then use your self timer. Remember, blurred photos are pure evil. There is nothing worse than having a great series of eight photos, but the one shot in the middle is blurred. That series is now useless.

Use your lowest ISO if you want a large print of the final image. Low ISO means low noise, and noise is slightly less than blur on the pure evil scale.

Don’t use overly long exposures. The light changes so fast and you don’t want two or three minutes between your first and last shot because the lighting of the sky will change over that time. This means you often cannot use very small aperture openings (higher F stop numbers) when the light is getting low because each exposure could be 30 seconds each X 8 shots = 4 minutes plus time to move the camera between shots means 5 minutes to take one series. Too long.

Check and recheck all your settings. Is bracketing off? Is the +- EVO setting at zero? Is ISO set to 100? Are the images set to RAW?

Set your camera to manual mode. You can’t have the camera changing its settings mid way through your series of photos or the lighting in the sky will vary throughout the final image.

Use your histogram! Trust it more than you trust your by-guess-and-by-golly eyeballing of the image you just shot on the back of your camera. I always take a test shot in the direction of the brightest sky, and then adjust the shutter speed until the histogram indicates there will be no blown out and overexposed highlights.

Often, I also use manual focus for most setups. At times your camera will have trouble focusing in the middle of a series. I avoid this by allowing the auto focus to set the focus, then clicking the lens to manual focus before taking the series of shots. This can be especially important if you have a foreground that is close up. You don’t want your focus changing part way through a series.

Any other points I am missing about panorama do’s and don’ts? I have made so many mistakes with my panoramas of the past. Every point I just made above is the result of a pano turned useless because of a mistake I have made in the field. Hard lessons learned through mistakes are often unforgettable.

If you have additional points that I missed, please comment with them. Your comments are appreciated.

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La Conner Tulip Festival

tulip festival

Rows of yellow tulips

The Tulip Festival in La Conner, Washington, is an amazing spectacle of color and beauty. The tulips bloom in April and hundreds of thousands of visitors travel long distances to see them.

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Skylight in an ice cave

Ice cave skylight 3765 jpg s

This ice is thousands of years old. This photo was taken today inside a massive ice cave near Whistler, BC. It is 50 meters deep and it sits underneath 25 meter thick glacial ice. A fast moving creek flows along the floor of the ice cave and it empties into an underground lake. This photo is a “skylight” in the middle of the cave.

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Vancouver is beautiful!

Vancouver skyline at sunset

Vancouver at sunset

Vancouver is truly at beautiful city. At sunset, on a nice evening, this place can’t be beat. This photo was taken from Stanley Park looking across Coal Harbour at the downtown core. This is a panoramic image assembled with eight separate photos merged into one final image. To complicate things even more, each of the eight images are actually created from five separate photos shot with different exposure settings and blended together into an HDR image. This makes for quite a challenge with editing this type of photo. But…the result is worth it. The final image is well over 20,000 pixels wide which means it can be printed very, very, very large with incredible detail and resolution.

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The light before the night in Vancouver

Vancouver under sunset xs (1 of 1)

The City of Vancouver’s downtown skyline. The light before the night. A super high resolution panorama photo.

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Double rainbow over the Nevada desert

double rainbow, valley of fire, desert, Nevada

A double rainbow over the Nevada desert

While on a photography trip in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, I looked up and saw this most incredible rainbow. The timing couldn’t have been better because I had my camera nearby and within two minutes it was gone. It was a special moment in time that I will probably never again experience. The rainbow means so many things to so many different people, but to me the rainbow is a promise from God. A promise of hope for the future.

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Vancouver panorama of Science World

Vancouver panorama relfections

Vancouver Science Centre reflections

I have to say… I love this picture. Click on it to see it larger.  This is the harbour of Vancouver, known as False Creek, with the downtown skyline in the background.  The round ball is the Vancouver Science Centre, and the boats in the foreground are called dragon boats and are used for racing.

This is an eight shot panorama, which means this image is very, very large and can be printed the size of a billboard with stunning resolution.

What do you think?  I hope I am not the only one who likes this photo.

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Vancouver beach sunset in White Rock

White Rock, Vancouver, Pier, sunset, beach, sand ripples, Tim Shields

The White Rock Pier at sunset.

The White Rock Beach Pier is a flagship landmark of the City Of White Rock. Located 35 minutes from Vancouver, White Rock beaches run a close second in popularity to Vancouver beaches. The White Rock pier is a popular walking destination in both summer and winter for locals and tourists. The White Rock beach pier is also the site of gorgeous winter sunsets.

This photo was taken with a single image with a Nikon D800 in raw format. The foreground was totally blacked out when viewed on the camera. The only way to process this photo is to make sure you watch your camera’s histogram carefully to ensure you don’t have any blown out highlights. Then process the photo and open up the shadows to reveal the foreground.

Tim Shields photography

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