A Panorama: A Choice of Lenses

A desert panorama is my latest project. Over the last three years I’ve  made several panoramas of desert scenes that I am really proud of. They reflect the color and majesty of the geology and foliage that is prevalent in the area. The image I am working on this time however, has thrown a curve ball at me.

In all the previous panoramas I placed my camera vertically in my tripod. Then I made a series of overlapping images to build my composition. “Cathedral Grove” my all time favorite panorama was captured in this way with a Nikon 50mm lens.

The desert panorama I’m working on has it’s own special challenges. It’s a commission, so I’m making it for someone else. And it needs to be a panorama with an aspect ratio of 2 to 5 so that it can be split and mounted on the wall as two separate 16 inch by 20 inch images

The perspective created by the lenses I tried first – a 50mm and an 18mm to 140mm set around 100mm – did not work.  With the depth of the desert scene  being so vast the visual elements in the composition were rendered too small and therefore with less emphasis than I intended.

A second issue to be dealt with was the 2 to5 perspective my panorama required. A significant crop would be needed. The result was not appealing.

So as to bring the main elements of my composition to the forefront I decided to use my 12mm to 24mm wide angle zoom. To gain the perspective of 2 to 5 I determined that a horizontal camera setup would work best.  An underexposure of one stop provided the drama in the sky I visualized. Photoshop helped me deal with the distortion that occurred by using the wide-angle lens on the camera being in a horizontal position.

I’m pleased with the resulting panorama as a single image. But as a split panorama I feel that the left side of the image needs the presence of another element. That part of the image is somewhat empty in my opinion. As a split panorama each side must stand alone as an effective composition. So, I’ll travel to the Tonto National Forest again this week and try again.

Saguaros and other cactus in the Tonto National Forest

Saguaros and other cactus in the Tonto National Forest


This entry was posted in Education, My Work.


  1. Brenda Larson February 8, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    So interesting to understand the dynamics behind a picture such as this. Need you to come to Isla and do a sunset that could be made into a large split piece of art. Have a lovely 4-piece one of Thailand here.

    • Stu Dale February 9, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

      That would be fun to do!!!!

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