Red Rocks: A Panorama Dilemma

On our way back from the Joshua Tree/Death Valley trip, we decided to come home a different way, through Vegas. We are not gambling folk, nor do we care for the strip or even its fancy buffets. Instead, we wanted to check out Red Rocks, officially Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area.

Holy crap.

One of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Some of the rock formations look similar to the checkerboard mesa area of Zion around the east entrance. In other places, Sedona- or Moab-like formations.













My favorite formations have these red lines running through them.


From a photographer’s point of view, though, Red Rocks poses a problem. Or perhaps I should say it poses a problem for a poor photographer who hasn’t invested any serious dough in equipment, like wide-angle lenses. The problem? How on earth do you capture its majestic, sweeping landscape with only a kit lens?

The answer, of course, is to take a series of pictures and merge them into a panorama, like this:


So, the next morning at sunrise, I headed out with the intention of capturing the most awesomest panoramas ever. I found a great spot, set up the tripod, and was taking roughly six-seven photographs groups to stitch together. And after using Photoshop’s photomerge, adaptive wide-angle filter to correct some distortion, and the content-aware fill to take care of some gaps, I got the look I wanted:




But you see the problem, right? The pictures are so wide that even extended fully, there’s just no height to them and therefore you can hardly see any detail. Fie!

So, here’s my compromise: I’ve cropped the panoramas, though it broke my heart to do so. I had to sacrifice that majestic breadth in order to increase the level of detail you can see.



Still not enough, so I cropped more.



Bob thinks the third set is the best. What do you think?

And how do other photographers deal with this issue? Zoom out and limit yourself to four shots at most? Do I need to buy a wide-angle lens? Shoot portrait panoramas–and how do you do that exactly? Help?

7 thoughts on “Red Rocks: A Panorama Dilemma

      1. Yes, If you get back to the area, I would recommend going into Yosemite National Park from the East entrance. That is the Tioga Pass. It is dramatic coming up Hwy 120 from Hwy 395.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s