Take a wider pano than planned

Panoramic of frozen Chicago River and snow capped staircase of Michigan Avenue bridge
When you are shooting a panoramic with your camera, do you ever wonder when you should stop sweeping across?

Ice waiting to be frozenWhen I was photographing this scene of the Chicago River, Initially, I was drawn to frozen Chicago River, and how part of it was yet to be frozen under the bridge. This pattern of unfrozen water made a nice shape. The lens on my iPhone wasn’t wide enough to grab this entire shape with the bridge in one photo, so I busted out the panorama mode.

Starting to sweep from left to right, I wanted to get the context of the frozen river on the left. The unfrozen part in the middle was a breeze, but then I started to get the staircase on the right. At first I didn’t want the staircase, because it would be distracting. But as I continued to sweep across, the staircase started to look really cool!

In fact, the staircase in this layout is now a compositional device that allows the viewer to walk up into the photo.

When shooting panoramics, it’s always better to go a little bit farther with your pano sweep, just in case you might capture some interesting elements. You can always crop the pano later.

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