First Time in Print

Entirely randomly, I discovered that one of my shots had made it into print. Specifically, into print in a newspaper in the place where I had lived for the last 12 years. As I sell most of my images via stock houses, I knew the image had been sold but had not checked up on who had purchased the print.

Here’s the image:

Nov 22 drone pano 5B-1.jpg

One of my friends posted a link to the newspaper story on a social media platform but she was unaware that the image used was mine. I saw her post and recognized the shot. A nice surprise!

The image itself was a drone shot using my DJI Mavic Pro. To take the shot, I had to comply with the regulations imposed by the local civil aviation authority, which meant I had to be outside a restricted zone which is basically a 3 mile zone centered around the airport. This also meant that the vast majority of the island is excluded from legal drone flight. No matter, it is still possible to get excellent views of the island and some great drone shots near sunset.

I sat myself on the beach just outside the restricted zone and sent the drone out, making sure to keep outside the restricted zone. I was looking to take some panoramic shots but was also looking to use the exposure bracketing to make sure I could retain some of the detail in the shadows whilst capturing the nice light around sunset. 

So, with the bracketing function activated in the drone settings, I started taking the panorama view. This basically involves composing the shot, keeping the drone in a single position and rotating it as you form the panoramic view. There will be slight movement due to small wind changes, however the Mavic Pro is excellent at keeping still in flight. There are wind limits however if the wind is within the drone specifications, then you should be fine.

Once the drone is in position, I then started taking multiple shots, rotating the drone slightly and keeping the same position. With the exposure bracketing function activated, the drone can either take three or five shots of differing exposure. I generally tend to opt for the three shot mode as this gives sufficient dynamic range in the merged image. I also tend to take around five to seven shots as I rotate round the viewpoint to create the panoramic image. So three shots in each position, five to seven viewpoints.

Once the shots are taken and the drone is safely back on the ground, it’s time to take the images back into the laptop. I use Lightroom to merge the bracketed shots and to then stitch the merged exposure shots into a panorama. 

The process to merge the exposure shots is fairly straightforward, although I’d appreciate a batch function when I’m capturing several panoramas. The closest to this is to use Shift, Command, H – this will cause Lightroom to merge using the last setting used. So fix your settings in the first batch then use the Shift, Command, H route.

Once this processing is complete, I then go into the Library module and delete the original images. This is personal preference but I find the merged images to be better than the three separate exposures and I like to save hard drive space.

Coming back to the Develop module, I then select the merged images and let Lightroom stitch them into the panoramic image. Spherical mode is the best setting to use, although sometimes with drone panoramas, this setting either fails or creates a slightly distorted image due to the wide range of view. So in that case, I just pick whichever of Perspective or Cylindrical looks best.

From there, it’s a simple case of processing the image as you would any image and creating a final version which you then export. Exporting something which finally makes its way into an actual paper print gives a much larger sense of achievement!