A wider view – stitching offset shifted images

   High resolution photography, image processing, image stitching, Interiors, Landscapes, Offices, Panoramic photography, Shift lens, Staircases, Take better photos, Tilt lens

Using a shift lens for wide and detailed views

When in a relatively small space, the size of the view needed can easily surpass the capabilities of any normal lens and camera setup.

A carefully chosen wide angle viewpoint can show not only the basic building structure, but show how areas interact, and the feel of the location for the people that use it.

Office building on business park

Newly built office unit of business park

You could use a fisheye lens, such as I’ve shown elsewhere, but in a location with strong vertical lines and diagonals, you often need a fully rectilinear projection. A single shot with a fisheye lens may also show too little detail if you want an image that can be used for a large print.

ground floor entrance - looking outwards

Combining shifted images

Fortunately it’s possible to take two photos in succession and combine them to create a larger version.

The screen shot below shows two individual views of the stairwell in a new building at a business park. The camera (which is perfectly level) doesn’t move, but the lens is shifted upwards and downwards. Note how there is a slight overlap – this enables the images to matched up to each other when stitching.

The camera source files are being processed in Photoshop, in this instance, but other RAW image processing software may give better results (in shadow detail for example). We’re always testing new technologies to get more from our photographs and expand what we can show. This is one of the reasons for the many reviews on the main Northlight Images web site.

The business units on this estate are based on a fairly basic design of building, but the entrance area is designed to be flexible enough for a number of different layouts.

In this case there is no reception area downstairs.

source images need to be processed at identical settings

It’s important that the setting for processing images are identical. If not, then stitching the two together can leave obvious seams.

Images like this can benefit from a degree of post processing, but if you require such views, this element is always built into our quotation for any project.

One other advantage of the technique is that it automatically gives a higher resolution image, that can comfortably print at our largest square print size of 43″x43″ (~1100 mm). [our largest in-house  print was nearly 15 metres long]

Staircase in office building

If you’ve elements of the picture that are quite close to the camera, it’s also possible to get parallax effects that cause stitching errors.

Ideally it’s the camera back you want to move, not the front of the lens.

A special lens mount is one way of dealing with such problems.

This one is covered in more detail in a technical review on Northlight Images

ts-e lens mounting bracket

This particular location was available for us to visit in late winter, giving a fairly low sun angle and needing some care with exposure, so as not to burn out the light from the sky.

Blue skies (even pale winter ones) can make a real difference, particularly with external shots of grey structures like these buildings.

view from the top of the stairs

The stitching technique works well for wide landscape views as well.

This view of the reed beds alongside the River Alde at Snape, in Suffolk, was taken on a cold March day, just before it started snowing.

The reed beds at Snape


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