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GLUE HDR PANORAMA In LIGHTROOM CC

Sometimes it happens that the conceived frame does not want to enter even the most wide-angle lens. For example, it is impossible to move away from the subject further, or perhaps it is possible, but the author’s idea requires an emphasis in the foreground, which cannot be achieved without gluing several vertical frames into one horizontal frame.

There are many different situations. But sometimes the need for panorama is aggravated by the fact that the difference in brightness in the scene is so big that it doesn’t want to enter the dynamic range of the camera matrix, and we start shooting with bracketing in the hope that then from all these braces and pieces of the panorama we will collect a masterpiece.

Previously, the most rational way was the following sequence of actions – to stitch a panorama for each of the exposures in some PTGui or any other program for stitching panoramas. At the same time it was very important that all shots for the panorama were shot with a tripod, because otherwise you would receive differently stitched panoramas for each of the expositions. It was important to ensure that all the panoramas were assembled according to the same pattern and algorithm, otherwise the HDR did not add up later. Well, then you pasted the resulting panoramas in HDR in some Photomatix. And since these programs do not differ by the most natural result, the resulting HDR panorama still had to be “doped” in Photoshop to get something natural and close to reality at the output.

It turns out that the process involved three different programs, a lot of time was spent, and any error at any stage led to the need to start all over again. And if the shots were taken from the hands, then it was possible to spend more than one evening after aligning and stitching, trying to combine what moved when shooting. Doing HDR first, and then collecting them into panoramas – was also not a very rewarding occupation, because it was possible to get a lot of problems with the subsequent alignment of the brightness and color of individual HDR files in the panorama.

In Lightroom CC (well, in Lightroom 6 at the same time) the opportunity to make HDR and panoramas from RAW files at once appeared. There are no conversions in which information is lost and the quality of the image deteriorates, and the whole process takes place in one program with practically a RAW file.

The description of the whole process fits into one sentence – sticking HDR from different exposures, and then from HDR we collect a panorama. Everything. No shamanistic dances with patterns of panoramas and control points. Since HDR is first done, and then a panorama, you can safely remove it from your hands without fear that the files will not be joined later. The result of gluing is a DNG-file, in which all the best from all exposures is saved. Thus, as a result of all the gluing, we get a DNG-file in the form of a panorama, in which there is information from all exposures and which can be processed as a regular RAW file from the camera.

Clearly, this process is depicted in the picture.

And now I will describe the whole process step by step, so that it is clear what is being done and how. The picture, however, is not the most artistic, but it is very indicative of the panorama and drawing out of the overexposed parts. This is a picture from the bottom of the gorge in the Spanish Ronda. The famous bridge is quite close, if you move further, then it is hidden around the bend and bushes. The gorge itself is in the shade, the sun is still too low and does not reach the bottom of the gorge, and the sky is too bright, albeit overcast. Due to the fact that the bridge is quite close, and I was shooting with a wide-angle lens, the verticals on the source frames are heavily inundated. Here’s a great example to see how Lightroom handles it all.

Here are the original frames – these are three groups of two frames. Frames made with bracketing are highlighted in the same color, they will need to be combined in HDR. And then each of the groups will become part of the panorama.
From normal and underexposed frame HDR sticking.

There are no special options here, no heaps of sliders for tonmaking, no terrible amount of settings. But at the output, we get not JPEG, which really cannot be processed, but a full DNG file, which has all the details in highlights and shadows.

Tonmaping settings in this case are insignificant, because the frame will then be glued to the panorama and it will be edited all together.
Auto Align comes in handy because I was shooting shots from my hands.
Here is the result. If you move the sliders of the exposure and tighten the lights and shadows, it is clear that the details are in the highlights and shadows – the resulting HDR file contains all the information from the light and dark source.

Similarly, we act with the remaining two pairs of exposures – we glue them together.
As a result of these simple automatic manipulations, we obtain three DNG files with a large, large dynamic range.
The resulting three files are stitched into a panorama.

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