The Picturesque Victoria Harbor

The picturesque Victoria Harbor is an amazing place to visit.  Photography opportunities are found everywhere with a great mix of things nautical sitting against a backdrop of the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the mountains in the distance.  In some cases, the best way to express a certain vision in terms of imagery is through the use of a panorama.  In today’s post, we’re going to visit the Victoria Inner Harbor with a new panorama landscape photograph, and we’ll discuss a bit about how we created it.

Victoria Harbor - Panorama - Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Victoria Inner Harbour – Panorama – Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

This image was captured last summer as we were on a huge shoot that will be featured in upcoming posts.  As we came across this scene, I immediately knew I wanted to capture it as a panorama, to really showcase the natural beauty of the Victoria Harbor and to give the viewer a strong sense of scale.  Here we see a small marina in the foreground, and in the back we can see a Coast Guard ship and Ogden Point, which is where all the cruise ships park when they come to visit our island.  On the far left side of the frame is one of the cities more famous condominium units.  These condos have the best views in the city with units in the Penthouse level going for several million dollars.

Photography Equipment & Software

Now, let’s talk a little about the gear and software we used to create this piece.

We shoot with a Canon EOS 6D these days, and this image was captured with our Canon 28-135mm EF Lens.  To create a great panorama you will also need a sturdy tripod and a remote shutter release.  Thanks to the lovely Mrs. Toad, I got a great carbon-fiber tripod with a fluid head for Christmas this year and I can honestly say this is an important investment, particularly if you do HDR or long exposure work.  I’ve also found that a remote shutter is critical for long exposures to ensure that hand-shake doesn’t get introduced into the equation.  This results in the sharpest pictures possible.

In terms of the software we used to create this piece, these are the key applications:

  • We use HDRsoft Photomatix Pro for our merging and tone-mapping of HDR.  If you want to get your own copy of this world-class application, use the code “ToadHollow” at checkout to save yourself 15% off the regular price.
  • Once the brackets were merged and ready to go, we brought the tone mapped images into Corel PaintShop Pro for finalization.  We use Topaz Labs plugins exclusively in our post-processing, and in this image we applied Topaz Detail 3 to accent the finer details and contrast for depth and definition.
  • With the completed frames ready to stitch together into the final panorama, we used Microsoft Research Image Composite Editor (ICE).

Taking The Brackets

This panorama consists of 21 RAW frames.  3 separate panels were created with these frames by merging 7 brackets for each panel in Photomatix Pro.  From there, the 3 created panels were stitched together in Microsoft ICE.  To be honest, we were amazed with the results.  I looked long and hard at the output of this process and could find no evident stitch marks from where the panels meet and the results look and feel completely natural.

When we were actually on the shore capturing this image, we started capturing the first panel and then we smoothly rotated the head on our tripod for each subsequent panel.  This ensured that the X axis (horizontal) of the image was consistent across all 3 panels, ensuring a smooth and seamless stitch.  We also made sure that we had about 25-30% overlap between the frames, again in an effort to aid the stitching process to create a perfect end result by allowing the algorithm to match details easily.

Post Shoot Wrap-Up

There are several complex steps involved in creating great panoramas.  The latest gear and software applications really help in this regard, reducing the underlying complexity and number of required steps to achieve a great result in comparison to how this was done just a few years ago.  The panorama format is terrific for creating a dramatic image with a high megapixel count and great details.  This really gives the viewer a sense of scale, and the aspect ratio accents the underlying drama of it all.

I appreciate that this may seem complicated to some of our readers, and if you haven’t done one before it really can be a bit daunting.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask them below in the comments section and we will be happy to answer every one.  Thanks for popping by today, we really appreciate your visit.  Until next time, my friends!

  1. avatar Bev Oliver says:

    LOVE your wide angle shots, Toad. The Empress never looked so grand! You’ve captured her!

  2. avatar Averil says:

    I love this! The parts that really stand out to me is the swirling of the clouds and the red ship in the background. Boats, ocean, etc are always wonderful to see you capture.

  3. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Stunning Toad and excellent post. Thanks for going through your steps.

  4. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    First of all, I absolutely love this scene, Toad. Makes me feel so at home. Congrats on this beauty of a pano.

    Thanks for sharing your interesting and very effective technique. The results are stunningly beautiful.

    Say “Hello” to Mrs. Toad. I look forward to more of her creative writings as well. 😉

    • You, sir, are the real deal! Thanks, Jimi!! Stay tuned to our blog, Mrs. Toad is writing a new post as we speak and it will be published shortly! Many thanks for all your kind support my friend.

  5. Great pano, such a beautiful place, I am usually way to lazy for them unless I am putting it on a wall, nicely done as always!

    • Thanks Mike!! They are a lot of work, indeed, and it’s a technique I hardly use myself. Sometimes, though, you just come across a scene that begs for it. 🙂 Thanks so much for popping by and leaving your great comments my good friend!!

  6. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    First, I love this image Toad. The clouds in the background almost look like snow capped mountains. I also enjoyed seeing the steps you take in creating your images. I always enjoy seeing how other photographers create their work and how differently they approach it.

  7. The viewpoint less taken resulted in a very beautiful entry into that inner harbor. It just goes to show that some extra work does get the photograph right.