Journal

Photography, photoshop, and the philosophy of taking pictures by photographer Bill Wadman, co-host of On Taking Pictures.

Diner Mob Hit

Diner Mob Hit

The idea was simple. Picture a late night diner. Maybe his date was hungry after the theater and suggested they get some pancakes. Unbeknownst to him; it was all a setup, she was in on it, and he was going to die. Maybe distract him with a little leg to keep him from noticing the assassin sitting in the booth directly behind him. Signal with the opening of a make-up compact perhaps? Only the waitress notices what's about to happen, but she's too late to stop the slaughter. SNAP!   That's the picture I wanted to take.

I had the location setup, I had the players I needed. All that was left were the technical details. How was I actually going to do it. I knew I wanted the option of making a big print of the final result. When I say big I don't mean 30x20", I mean 60x40". You know, big.  However the file needed to make that print is bigger than my 22MP Canon 5D Mark III could provide (too bad the 5Ds hadn't been released yet). So I had to improvise and decided to shoot the scene as a panorama.

The five individual images that makeup the 50MP final file.

When I had everyone in place I said "Freeze" and fired off a series of portrait orientation shots across the whole scene using a longer lens (in this case a 50mm) than I would have used to shoot the scene as one shot in camera. In Lightroom the sequence looked like the set above.

If you've never played with it before, Photoshop is really great at stitching together panoramas. Just select the images you want and select "Merge to Panorama" in Photoshop. The resulting image is a little weird looking, but it's huge. Like 11678x7098 pixels huge. That's a 82 megapixel file, a downressed version of which is seen below, with all the empty transparent space outside the bounds of the source image.

What's really cool to look at are the masks which Photoshop creates during the merging process. It keeps each of the layers separate until you flatten them down, but which pixels is chooses to use from which layer always amazes me. Yes, you could do this by hand, but honestly I wouldn't want to and I don't think you'd want to either.

A little cropping here and a bit of rotation there and we end up with something cleaner that's a much more manageable 8631x5754 pixels, a total of about 50 megapixels. The result is about the same as if I had shot the image on a 50MP camera with a 35mm lens. Just about exactly what I wanted.

Of course this is where the hard work began. I now had to remove myself from the image in the mirror, clean up that back wall, do a ton of toning and color grading, etc, etc, etc. 

There will be a small edition of both large and small prints available soon. Contact me for more information.

Detail images: