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Nadir Shooting Techniques

Nadir Shooting Techniques - Avoiding Shadows

Finding the "Point"





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Shaving the Nikon 10.5 Fisheye Lens





Nadir Shooting Techniques...  Avoiding Shadows



Someone asked, "What if there was light right above you?  How do you avoid shadows from your camera, tripod head and/or arm?"



II came upon this same situation where I was shooting an interior shot of a kitchen.  It has a lot of pot lighting and reflective surfaces.  A photographer's nightmare.  Avoiding shadows altogether is any photographer's responsibilities.  Plan your shots ahead of time.  Pick a time of day.  Sunny days versus cloudy.  Dusk?  Noon? Dawn?  Use shadows to hide your shadow.  Same for interior.  Use blockers to block out light sources that's creating a shadow.  For example mirrors.  I've covered a mirror that was reflecting light and creating a shadow of myself onto another wall.  If all else fails clone them out in Photoshop.   




A perfectly leveled nadir shot but too bad the shadow got in the way.  Obviously the shadow was caused by the pot light directly above.  Situation like these even the clone tool can't fix due to the variation of light gradation from various directions.  Too much work to perfectly clone. 




There is a simple solution.  Take three nadir images.  Two with the pano head, 180 apart, and a third shooting at an angle towards the center of the nadir.  See image below.  Position yourself so there is no shadow cast on the nadir area. 


NOTE: There is no exact angle to shoot down.  The angle depends on the position of the shadow cast on the ground relative to the nadir image you're trying to acquire.  The angle of the camera below is an exaggeration of the position to clearly illustrate the idea.





Here are the three nadir images...




Layer the three nadir images and mask in Photoshop. 

(Understand layers here)


The top layer should be the image that you took on an angle.  Since this image is not perfectly flat you will have to manipulate this image with the transform tools in Photoshop.  Change the opacity of the top layer to about 60% so you can align it.  I scaled down and skewed the image to perfectly match the two lower layers. 


Notice the size of the top layer as illustrated by the transform tools' anchor points.  Copy only the area needed to patch the remaining hole.  It will make alignment much easier.




Include the edited nadir image with the rest of the images to stitch in your stitching program.



UPDATE:  Alternatively with the new option in PTGUI's Viewpoint Correction it is possible to stitch the nadir with the rest of the images for this situation.   Output the file as a blended and layer PSD file.  You still may have to work with the layers to further fine tune the image.









When shooting outdoors, before you shoot, take a look at where the sun is in relation to your setup.  Have a look at where the tripod is casting its shadow and adjust accordingly.




A large clear area of the nadir to work with.