Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Panoramic Fashion Shoot

I had an idea of shooting a panoramic fashion image for a while.  I was finally able to completed it last weekend.  The image I have in mind will be a 180° panoramic.  The same model will appear in the image multiple times.  Each time, she will wear a different outfit with a different pose.

In order to do that, I needed a panoramic head.  Since this is not going to be something I will do regularly, I did not want to buy an expensive pano head.  A quick search on eBay yielded interesting result.  Someone was making a pano head out of MDF wood and selling them for £25.  As far as I know, the cheapest pano head is The Panosaurus at £90 in the UK.  I decided to take a risk and buy this pano head.  It arrived very quickly with setting up instructions.  Result from the quick test was good.  It works very well and there was no parallax error even with close up objects.  Although the head is made of MDF, it is very sturdy and the tripod attachment point is made of metal and the machining is high precision.  I may modify the head with butterfly nuts to enable mounting and dismounting of camera without the need of a screwdriver.

Canon EOS 550D mounted on pano head

The location needs to be indoor, as changes in ambient light condition will cause inconsistency between shots.  After much thinking I chose The Barbican Centre in The City of London.  There is a long curve tunnel there which is ideal for this shoot.

Once on location, I set up the camera on the pano head on a tripod.  I then marked the positions of each leg of the tripod on the ground and then its centre point.  Then measured and marked the positions where the model will stand.

For this shoot, I was working with StayBeautifulMakeUp (Robyn, MM# 2103679), she did a great job with make up.  Molly Wakeling (MM# 2548848) is a young model who responded to my casting.  I must not forget Johan du Toit who was assisting me.  Without Johan, it would be so much harder to perform this shoot.

Molly in one section of the panoramic image

The shoot went as planned and I shot Molly in seven outfits with a variety of poses.  I also shot the gaps between them to aid the stitching process.  All the images were captured at the same shutter speed, aperture and white balance to make sure they will be consistent throughout.

The RAW files were converted using Capture One using the same settings and then stitched using Photomerge in Photoshop CS5.  There were still a lot of fine tuning, dodging and burning in Photoshop until I was happy with the stitched image.

The final stitched image 

With each image taking hours of editing, it is not a quick process to produce a panoramic fashion image.  The Photoshop PSD file was over 1.2GB in size.  From my past experience, I don't think shooting the location and then adding the model afterward will be any quicker.

I am already thinking of my next panoramic fashion shoot.  It will need to be in a new location.  Maybe instead of shoot seven outfits, four will be a lot more manageable.  That will be some time away as suitable location is not easy to find.

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