This last spring we decided to take a trip to Europe and one of the places that we wanted to see was Mont Saint-Michel in France. We knew that this trip would be a little bit hard to make since it was about a 4 Hour drive outside of Paris but we thought it would be worth it. I wanted to create a panoramic image of Mont Saint-Michel from out on the sandy beach. Early one morning we left Paris to start our 4 hour drive out to Mont Saint-Michel to enjoy the area in the morning hours. Once we arrive at the local area, we found out that we had to park the car and take a bus out to the island. The bus is free and runs on a regular schedule from the parking lot to the entry point of Mont Saint-Michel. We got there around 9 AM and we are able to beat the rush of normal tourist traffic. Once we took in everything that the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel had to offer, we left the Abby and headed down to the beach area where I had planned on getting my Panoramic shot. I had already gotten some images of Mont Saint-Michel but I still wanted that panoramic image of Mont Saint-Michel from the sand beach. Here is where things get a little bit more tricky since the image below is what you see from the road.
Mont Saint-Michel is surrounded by low laying beach that gets flooded every day when the tide comes in. This ends up making the sand being very soft and somewhat quicksand like. To get out on the sand, you have to take off your shoes and walk across rocks for the first hundred yards till you hit the sandy beach. This is when you have to worry about sinking in so you have to constantly keep moving. The sand get everywhere by the way, and has a silt and clay like feeling to it also. I walked all way around Mont Saint-Michel to find the perfect spot which had no footprints on the beach beside my own so I can have a nice clean beach leading up to Mont Saint-Michel. Once I found the spot that I was looking for, I took out my camera and proceeded to take my images which I would need to create my panoramic.
First thing I did was to meter for the brightest part of the image that I wanted to capture, then I metered for the least brightest part of the image. You can use the built-in meter that is in your camera by simply set your camera to Aperture mode and read the shutter speed. If you get 2000/sec at the brightest part and 1000/sec at the least, then the average will be 1500/sec to get a middle of the line exposure so you can get a set of images that are not over exposed or under exposed. Then simply dial that setting in to your camera in manual mode and take your images. My settings that I came up with was F/8 and 1250/sec. I went ahead and took my images and I also made sure that I had 1/3 of the frame overlapping to help with the post edit. A little trick to ensure that you have proper overlap is to turn on the rule of thirds frame lines in your camera settings. Use these line to help make sure that you are getting about 1/3 of the image from the past shot in the next image.
Once you are done with all of this, you need to combine in a Panoramic software to merge all the images together to create your Pano. I use Photoshop to do this for me. I do a rough edit in Lightroom and then simply export into Photoshop by selecting all the images, then right clicking on them and going to “Edit in”, and then going down to “Merge to Panorama in Photoshop”. This will lunch Photoshop and start importing the files. Photoshop will pop up a menu which will list the images you have selected in Lightroom and ask you a few questions. I typically leave my Layout in Auto and only check the “blend Images Together” box. If you have a heavy dark vignette or some crazy lines, then try check the box with the “Vignette Removal” and Geometric Distortion Correction” to possibly fix some of these issues. I use the Camera profile in LightRoom and this helps with the vignette and the distortion a lot. Once it’s in Photoshop, you do have to play around with cropping and adaptive wide-angle in the Filter drop down to get the image looking straight again.
Here is the Final Image that I took that early morning at Mont Saint-Michel. I was half tempted to go Black and White with this image but I felt that the blue sky with the white puffy clouds was so unique so I wanted to keep them in color. I hope this helps you with your travels and helps you to understand how to create Panoramic images.