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The Radical Auto-Exposure, Hand-Held Scenic Panorama:

With advances in camera and processing algorithms, we can take the “quick panorama” hand holding our Camera with Auto Settings (for “Everything) and get surprisingly good results – “go ahead and try it !”   The main “hand-held” challenge is trying to keep the horizon level but even that is not critical.

(Click to Enlarge Image)

Yes, Auto Settings for “Everything”! Think about it: shooting Camera raw files maintains the maximum tonal range and White Balance changes have no effect; Auto Exposure for each segments produce more details in each segment; autofocus has little effect on distant scenes* AND, since PS CS4 smooth segment blending photomerge, you will find smooth tonality across your panorama.
     * for those rare seascape  scenes with a cactus in the foreground: the auto focus makes the needles sharp; PS’s blending does most of the magic; and the mind’s “eye completes the picture”

I want to say that I am not advocating poor techniques, just reporting observations that surprised me when I saw the final results – which I now consider when shooting panoramas. I know (and commercially do) the conventional… manual exposure “everything” with a leveled tripod when I am shooting interiors commercially – but not on a sailboat boat at sunset!

[Here is my workflow for this photo]
Shooting Considerations:
 1.   Shot 3 segments for panorama overlapping each about 33%
 2.   Camera Settings: Auto “Everything” (I used “A” Aperture priority)
Preparing each segment if using Camera Raw files:
 3.   Merged 3 segments to Panorama in PS via LR
 4.   Back in LR/ACR for “Auto” adjust again and fine tune exposure
 5.   Export (sharpen and sized) for this post 

Look at the results, try it, let me know your thoughts. Better to have a “quick panorama” than to try explaining a Florida Key’s sunset observed from a sailboat.

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