British Columbia Wildlife Panoramic challenge

large format panoramic image of a sealion colony

Capturing awesome shots of wildlife in British Columbia is not typically challenging if you are in the right place.

There is such a bounty of amazing animals and scenery to shoot in the wild places of Canada’s westernmost province. This year I decided to up the difficulty a little by trying to do some truly large scale images of the dramatic scenery, but including animals in them, such as whales, bears and salmon.

It was easier said than done, especially shooting multiple stitched images from the deck of a moving boat. With the unpredictability of whales that pop up in sometimes unexpected places, it made it challenging to frame the images.  But I still managed to get a few this year.

Large format image of killer whale pod in Salish Sea
A pod of Orca travel in the Salish Sea near Cambell River in this image that is over 27 000 pixels long

There is a large increase in the Humpback whale population in the Salish Sea and up the coast of British Columbia. There is something pretty cool about seeing a whale tail lifted out of the water against a backdrop of mountains.

HUmpback Whale raising its tail fluke in the Salish Sea. Super high resolution image at over 28 000 pixels.
A Humpback Whale with the nickname “Whiskers” flukes in the Salish Sea. Super high resolution image at over 28 000 pixels long.

On my first trip to the Oreford River in Bute Inlet I also tried a few large scenes with Grizzly Bears. Not having much time, and with the sometimes quickly moving bears, it proved difficult. But the scenery is so dramatic there that even with just one bear in the image it makes for an eye-catching scene. that is symbolic of the coast.

High resolution panoramic image of oreford river with a grizzly bear
A Grizzly Bear strolls along the banks of the Oreford River in Bute Inlet.
Super high resolution image of sockeye salmon in the Adams River
Every four years there is a dominant run of Sockeye Salmon on the Adams River in Central British Columbia. This large format image shows a section of the river in the fall of 2018. This image is over 30 000 pixels long.

Next year I plan to spend a considerable amount of time really focusing on wildlife panoramics. The challenge is fun and the images worth it.

 

Click here to go to the gallery featuring these high resolution wildlife panoramic images.

Note- These images and all the rest on the website can be used for many different applications including large wall murals, architectural installations, and billboard sign graphics. Contact me if you have any ideas you want  to discuss.

I also do free image mockups if you send me a photo of your space.

 

Wildlife Panoramics- A New Challenge

high res stitched panoramic wildlife image.

Overcoming the challenges of shooting stitched image wildlife panoramics.

Stitched Landscape Panoramics have been popular for a while now and I have been enjoying the challenge of making epic landscape images with this technique.  On a recent trip to Botswana my mission was to try super high resolution Stitched Wildlife Panoramics.

gathering at the local watering hole.

Large herds of animals at predictable sites like watering holes made it a bit easier to plan my approach. We were always in vehicles, making it a little trying at times. When the scene was on the other side of the vehicle nobody wanted me clambering onto their lap to get the shot. But fifty percent of the time the scene was on my side and I was able to experiment with this approach. I started with single row images, comprising of four to twelve or more images taken from left to right. (making it easier to visualize when loaded into in my photo processing software). I mostly used a gymbal head mounted on a tripod and secured to the open-sided vehicle with a bungee cord.

When the animals were more stationary it made it a bit easier to shoot a sequence without the movement of animals making the stitching process flawed.  Elephants and giraffes standing still were the best subjects.

Technique for taking stitched wildlife panoramic images.

Note how my first and last pictures in the sequence are index marker images. I use my thumb in the pictures to indicate this. Later in my workflow this makes it much easier to see all the images that make up a particular panoramic, especially if I am shooting single frame images at the same time. It also is a good conversation starter when onlookers ask why I always take pics of my thumbs.

herd of elephants captured in a stitched wildlife panoramic image
Final stitched image from above sequence with dimensions of 23 075 x 4615 pixels.
On the move.

When the animals are moving, such as a herd of zebra around a watering hole, the whole process is more difficult. In this case, I had to shoot and look ahead at the same time. Quickly composing the images with overlapping areas in spots that had no animals, or at least more stationary ones, made for better results . As you can imagine this was a very fluid method and it didn’t always work out well. But by taking several sequences I usually got something I was happy with. Of course this wasn’t confirmed until I returned home and started stitching the images together.

A successful stitched wildlife panoramic image of zebra.
A successful stitched image with a herd of zebra. Some of them were on the move but I was still able to stitch this image together well in Adobe Lightroom.
Processing

I mostly use Adobe Lightroom for the stitching process and Adobe Photoshop for final touches. Surprisingly, Lightroom is able to stitch images quite well even when there is some movement, eg a zebra walking.  It intuitively picks the best parts of the overlapping images and creates a good join. Only a couple times did I end up with an animal with five legs.

After I felt comfortable with this technique I started adding double row panoramics.  To do this effectively I had to be careful to not have any animals overlapping into the row above, as the animals would have moved enough by the time I got back to that area in the second row.

Wildlife Stitched panoramic image of elephants at sunset
High resolution double row stitched wildlife panoramic image ( what a mouthful) of elephants at sunset in Botswana.
One animal surprised me.

One animal that was surprisingly easy to photograph in this way was the mighty giraffe. I did not know this but, as gangly as they look, they actually stand stock still at times.  Thus I was able to do some creative images with them, singly and in groups. Some fun images I created were vertical stitched images going up and down their bodies as they stood motionless.

individual images making up a stitched panoramic image.
Here are all the images I took up and down the body of this motionless giraffe.
image showing placement of stitched images to make high res photo
After stitching but before cropping and final editing. As I was shooting hand held I accidentally missed a part of the sky in the top left. Some cloning in Photoshop filled this in later in the editing process.
Extremly high resolution of giraffe.
Finished super high resolution image of a giraffe. Final size is 20 000 x 17 000 pixels.
Detail available in super high resolution stitched wildlife panoramic image.
Close crop of above image showing level of detail available in this super high resolution image.

This was a very fun and rewarding trial and I am very happy with the results. Of course a return trip is in the works to perfect this process!

To see all of these wildlife panoramic images go to

https://largeformatimages.com/image-galleries/african-wildlife/

Side note- After a successful day out on safari we also gathered around a watering hole for some sun-downers.

Letaka Safaris
Letaka Safaris in Botswana were our hosts and did a fine job of catering to our every need.             www.letakasafaris.com

 

The Large Format Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

This website is an extension of my photography business to highlight my super sized large format panoramic images.  I am addicted to photographing and showing the world in a way that shows the full scene in front of me but also captures the tiny details present. Whether its a beautiful scene from my home of Lake Wanaka in New Zealand, or a herd of Elephants roaming through the bush in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, or a lone Orca swimming down Johnstone Strait, the desire is the same- To show the world in an exciting and dramatic way.

 

large format panoramic image of that tree in lake wanaka
That Wanaka tree. The most photographed (little) tree in the world.
Herd of elephants roaming through bush in okavango delta
High Resolution image of Elephants in Okavango Delta, Botswana
orca in johnstone strait
Orca swimming down Johnstone Strait with Vancouver Island mountains.
Underwater panoramic high resolution image
Underwater large format image of the Heber River Canyon near Gold River, BC.
pink fawn lily
Large format image of forest floor with  Fawn Lily flowers.
painted hills made up of different colours of volcanic ash and clay
Dramatic coloured Painted Hills. in Central Oregon

To see my other photography work including underwater and landscape photography go here www.eikojonesphotography.com