From RAW to FINAL: Panoramic Long Exposure Photography
Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 01:27AM
Marc Koegel in Fram RAW to Final!, Prairies

Hello everyone,

here's another post in my series: From RAW to Final, where I show you how I take an image all the way from RAW to its finished, final, look.

Today, I would like to share an image I took last week as I was traveling and photographing in the Canadian Prairies. This image, entitled "Prairie Train Cars' was photographed near Calgary, Alberta.

Image Details: Cambo WDS camera with 35mm Lens. Phase One Digital Back. Panorama from 2 images, 300 and 538 second exposure time. Merged in Autopano Pro.

I was on a 5 day trip, starting and ending in Calgary. We spend between 12 - 15 hours each day travelling and photographing the Prairie landscape and communities such as Lethbridge, Oyen, Drumheller etc...

The focus of this photography tour was to discover, and photograph, the wooden grain elevators and grainaries dotting the landscape.

We found these train cars, apparently parked in this location for undetermined amounts of time, near the grain elevator of Herronton. When we arrived, our attention shifted away from the grain elevator (we also photographed it, of course).

The clouds and weather conditions were simply amazing, I setup my Cambo WDS camera so as to take 2 images that I planned to merge to a panorama.

Using panoramic images, not only do I get images with higher resolution, but I also get a wider angle of view without having to buy a wider angle lens. On my Cambo camera, the 35mm lens I was using is very wide on its own already, but merging 2 images gave me an even wider perspective. While working on my composition, I wanted to make sure to place the 'Canada' train car close to the middle so that it would serve as the focal point.

The wideangle perspective allowed me to include generous amounts of sky and negative space around the train cars. The foreground was simple gras, which also helped draw the viewers eye into the scene.

STEP 1: So let's get started and first take a look at my 2 RAW files:

Note that I have converted the original RAW files to DNG format. This allows my panoramic program of choice, Autopano Pro, to read my RAW files coming from my Phase One Digital Back. If you're shooting with a DSLR you won't need this step as Autopano can read most RAW file format from major manufacturers.

Also note that I made a 'mistake' as I did not use the same exposure time for both images. Because if this, I will run into some merging troubles later on, and you'll see how I addressed it. In a perfect world, you want to make sure you'll use the same exposure time for all images you plan to merge into a panorama.

STEP 2: Merge images into a panorama using Autopano Pro Software:

In the image above, you can see that cropping to a 2:1 panoramic aspect ratio will result in only a small loss of original resolution. In my workflow, I usually crop in Autopano Software, and then export the image for editing in Photoshop later.

STEP 3: Editing in Adobe Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex Pro Software:

You can see that I 'only' needed 5 layers to get this edit done. The biggest adjustment, if you want to call it that, is that I split the sky and clouds in half and then mirrored it and put it back into the image.

I also use 2 other essential techniques in my Photoshop workflow, namely a Dodge and Burn Layer, and a selective sharpening layer using the Hi-Pass filter.

I decided to record a video showcasing my entire workfow for this image. I think this will go a long way to explain what I was doing.

The video is uploaded and posted on Vimeo. Take a look:

Marc Koegel Photography -- From RAW to Final: 'Train Cars' image from Marc Koegel on Vimeo.

Please be so kind and leave me some feedback on the video. Do you want to see more like this? Do you have any additional questions? Anything I missed that would improve this effort?

Thank you for reading/watching this post.

More tk...

Article originally appeared on Bulb Exposures - The Blog about Long Exposure Photography! (
See website for complete article licensing information.