Sunrise on Almanac Mt

Yesterday, Joyce and I got up at 5:15 AM and drove to the top of Almanac Mountain to get some sunrise photos. It took a little bit to get up there, setup the tripod and panning gear, take a few test exposures, etc. before taking a panoramic, so we timed it about right. It’s a lot more fun when you aren’t in a hurry and stressed to get the perfect shot. It was quite windy, so there were no interesting clouds and trees/leaves didn’t stay very still. It made stitching a panoramic challenging, but we got some good images nonetheless.

Here is a zoomable version of the first panoramic I took. The bottom right button will make the image go full screen. Try the link underneath the image if it doesn’t work in your browser (iPhones and iPods for example).


Here’s a second sunrise panoramic I took 10 minutes later. I actually like this one better than the first one. Mostly because I had a lot more light to work with so I was able to lower the ISO and choose a smaller aperture for more depth of field. I also could use higher shutter speeds for less tree/leaf movement. I chose a slightly wider ~50mm focal length instead of 70mm to get more of the scene using less photos, so the final image isn’t as high a resolution as the previous one, however I could take the whole scene in a shorter time frame due to less photos and faster shutter speeds. The quicker you can take a panoramic, the more consistent the lighting is across the scene, especially during sunrises and sunsets when the light is dramatically changing very quickly. Since I had more light to work with and the shady areas weren’t as dark compared to the sky, I was able to take one normal exposure for the foliage and another one 2 stops underexposed for the sky instead of the five exposures I had to take to cover the range of the previous image. Which one do you like better?

[smugmug url=”″ imagecount=”100″ start=”1″ num=”2″ thumbsize=”Th” link=”lightbox” captions=”false” sort=”false” window=”false” smugmug=”true” size=”X2″]

Here is the shooting data for those interested.

First Panoramic
Images: 190
Exposures: 5
Bracketing: -4, -2, 0, +2, +4
Rows: 2
Columns: 19
Size: 134.43 megapixels, 20187 x 6659, 67.29″ x 22.20″ @ 300dpi
Field of View: 138.2 degrees, 4.58mm effective focal length
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Lens Focal Length: 70mm
ISO: 400
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter: 1/3200 to 1/13

Second Panoramic
Images: 40
Exposures: 2
Bracketing: -2, 0
Rows: 2
Columns: 10
Size: 93.88 megapixels, 15012 x 6253, 50.04″ x 20.84″ @ 300dpi
Field of View: 160.4 degrees, 3.26mm effective focal length
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Lens Focal Length: 48mm
ISO: 200
Aperture: f/8
Shutter: 1/400 & 1/100

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