Jeff Smallwood Photography
My Largest Panorama
Dec 3, 2011
Full moon illumination on the north east shore of Staniel Cay, Exuma Islands, Bahamas
Click the image for a larger view.

Several months ago I created the largest panorama I'd ever attempted, a series of shots at Great Falls just outside Washington, DC. But that image is now #2 on the list because this one is larger.

Full moon illumination, this was taken on the north east shore of Staniel Cay, in the Exuma Islands of the Bahamas.

The specs are huge on this file and it brought my laptop to its knees.

The original stitched TIFF of the above image is made from 18 separate shots and measures 22,987 x 10,648 pixels in size. At that size I could use an excellent DPI and still print a 7 ft x 3 ft image. Each shot was 30 seconds long and was purposely underexposed so I'd be able to get through all the images w/o being there all night long. It also allowed me to capture all the shots before the scene changed too much.

I usually use Photoshop's panorama stitching but PS failed on this set. It was partly my fault because in the dark of the night I didn't have the tripod and camera level, so as I panned from left to right, the again from left to right, each shot was progressively more crooked than the last. Photoshop didn't like this at all and kept failing to align the shots correctly.

Autopano Giga to the rescue. Autopano was able to arrange all 18 images in fair quality at first pass, but I still have to do a lot of custom point editing, especially around the horizons of each shot. My laptop was not happy and it took over 10 minutes each time I tried to render the panorama.

Once rendered and opened in Photoshop I made the final cropping. It took over 10 minutes just to make the noise reduction adjustments in Topaz (and DeNoise claimed over 3 GB of memory in the process). I thought my machine might crash. I have 4 GB of memory and it dropped to 56 MB free at one point, but it finally finished processing and saved the file. And I let out a sigh of relief!

In order to make the color adjustments I had to reduce the size, otherwise I was worried the Nik Viveza plugin wouldn't handle it because I'd run out of memory. I want to redo the color adjustments again on the original so I can print large, but I might have to do it on another computer at some point in the future.

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