I don’t know where to begin…
Today’s the day before my birthday, and I have to talk about this…
This was the saddest moment of my photographic career. This image.
Almost ten months later and it still hurts me to know I made this mistake.
I even thought I could save it, and I tried.
But I couldn’t save it.
It’s going to hurt to talk about this, but here we go…
As the alpine glow was reaching its peak color, I knew it was time. Time to make the panorama I’ve been wanting to make for the entire trip. Everything in my life had led up to this moment. The moment to make what was to be the greatest panoramic image of my photographic career so far.
I didn’t check my level. While, yes, my tripod head was level at one point of the panorama, it was on an angle. Every position of the tripod head outside of that original point would be skewed.
I mentioned in a previous post that I swung my camera on the tripod head back and forth to check the angle of the tripod head. I didn’t do that this time. Why, you may ask? I was in a rush. That iconic alpine glow only lasts about ten to fifteen minutes, and changes by the second. The mountains change form blue to pink to orange to grey in a matter of half an hour.
I did try to save the image, as I stated above. Photoshop’s recent updates included a fantastic tool, content-aware fill. I knew I couldn’t do much for the trees and river I lost, but I could save the sky. After I attempted this, it did look alright, however, after cropping in to the peaks, it just felt wrong.
There’s a certain point that I go to in order to make an image work with photoshop. I have never liked using photoshop in order to majorly change an image, even if it’s just trying to reconcile a failed panorama. It’s kind of a sense of stubbornness. I may do it for myself, but it would never be one I publish or sell. I feel like i would be lying to the viewer. But yes, photography is all about lying while simultaneously telling the truth.
it’s somewhat obvious what lesson I learned from this photograph. However, there is a piece of gear that I can purchase that will assist in preventing this from happening again. My tripod, the Manfrotto 190Go! (that I will likely upgrade to carbon fiber legs, sometime), has a lackluster kit center column, but Manfrotto dos sell a different center column for the 190 series that includes a leveling head mount. This would be the kind fo center column you would want to have if you were to do panoramas. The unfortunate thing is that it does add another $125 onto the total worth of my tripod (inching closer to a $500 tripod — I may make a blog post at some point about building an ideal tripod for your work). It’s a tool that’s invaluable for any landscape photographer doing extensive amounts of panoramic work, as I often do, so it’s a purchase that I will make without remorse, but a sad wallet.