Mesa Arch at Sunrise

Mesa Arch at Sunrise — Canyonlands National Park, UT  © jj raia

When I was in Canyonlands National Park, I mentioned I met up with two other photographers doing what I was doing: traveling around photographing and living out of their car. One of them was Walter Santos, and it was he who explained to me an important advantage in taking panoramas — the increased file size that allows for very, very large, mural size prints that remain sharp!! In the past I had tried the process of taking several overlapping frames across a scene a few times, but without much success. So while we were shooting at Mesa Arch (Image No. 24 from the Into the Desert Post), I took another shot looking just to the right to capture the other end of the arch to give it a try later on when I got back home. With some tweaking, I was able to overlap and line up the two images to create a photo of the entire arch looking out into the vast expanse of Canyonlands just as the sun began to go behind the arch itself. Using a really small aperture (f/22) created the sunburst. With one pano under my belt, I remembered an unsuccessful attempt from almost a year ago of nearby Jordan Lake that just never seemed to work out. I shot four vertical images across a spectacular sunrise because the color stretched completely across the sky and the scene just begged to be recorded from end to end. Right afterward, I tried the merging ability of Photoshop and wasn’t really happy with the results, so the four panels languished in my files for almost a year. After the Mesa Arch was completed, I gathered up the four panels and attempted to “stitch” them together manually using four individual layers. After a lot of tedious work, the four shots lined up and I was able to blend them together and finally complete the image from last winter I had hoped for. So, many thanks to Walter for providing the impetus to create these images; I’m sure I will attempt many more when the opportunities are there. By the way, please check out his site where you’ll see some great imagery at

Jordan Lake Winter Panorama

Jordan Lake Winter Panorama  © jj raia

As an aside, and as a testament to what Walter was saying about creating large prints that remained sharp, while I was working on the Jordan Lake image, I was zoomed in at 100% searching for and cleaning up dust spots and discovered a very sharp airplane hidden in the clouds that I had previously not known was there!! Do I leave it in or take it out? Another dilemma!!

Jordan Lake - Last Light  © jj raia

Last Light at Jordan Lake  © jj raia

Last Light is another image using four panels which languished in my files for almost a year. Put together, they measure a whopping 7148 X 15612!! A single image, which I usually shoot in a 5:4 format, measures only 4912 X 6144. Printed, this image would be almost 3-16 X 24 inch vertical panels measuring 2 feet by 4 feet!! The Mesa Arch measures 4912 X 10282, or easily about a 16 X 36 inches.

Wild Wisteria — Wake County, NC

Wild Wisteria — Wake County, NC  © jj raia

The Wild Wisteria above is one of my “lazy” panos: it is just a crop from a single shot. The final image seen here is how I wanted it to look, but it may have been better to at least attempt a true panorama of several shots to be able to create a very large mural of these beautiful flowers entwined around the four tree trunks and maintain a crisp image. As Walter said, panoramas can become addictive…we’ll see if I can resist the temptation. Maybe I’ll attempt it again next spring.


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