I've had the good fortune to participate in some epic photographic adventures in 2015. Here's a quick slideshow of some of my favorite moments of the past year.

Happy New Year everyone!



View in HD: The depth and enlargeability of an ultra-hi-rez panoramic-merger.

Panoramic Mergers. I stumbled across the technique a decade ago when I was wishing for a wider angle lens for my medium format film camera.

On an amazingly calm Patagonian morning last month this scene could have been easily captured with a single frame with my Nikon D810, but by instead making a panoramic-merger from 8 images I created this highly-enlargeable, 80-megapixel image. Have I mentioned that I love this stuff?

Check out this gallery of select panoramic mergers. You can view this image full screen there.



I used Lightroom 6 to blend 3 exposures of this Image of Italy's Amalfi Coast.

I’m enjoying Lightroom 6 on this Europe trip. It’s dehaze filter has surprised me, and I’ve found the new panoramic photo-merge engine works well for many simple panoramics (stay tuned for more on that in my forthcoming panoramic merger book).

The new feature I like best is Lightroom 6’s built in merge to HDR. Finally an automated HDR solution for me. In the past I have avoided automated HDR software because the results were invariably too otherworldly for my style. I’ve been hand blending multiple exposures since the days of film, but I’m always seeking a subtle extension of shadow and highlight detail. A way to get the camera closer to my visual perception of the scene. Modern digital sensors are amazing, but they still can’t capture the dynamic range possible with our own eyes.

Now with Lightroom 6 you can blend bracketed RAW images like these three -- taken 2 stops above the meter, on the meter and 2 stops below the meter (I used my tripod to keep them all perfectly aligned) -- to create a single RAW image with dramatically increased shadow and highlight detail. It doesn't add any neon looking effect, halos or otherworldly colors. It simply opens the shadows and preserves highlights. 

Three D810 RAW files 2-stops over, on meter, and 2-stops under.

To try this yourself, select some bracketed RAW images in Lightroom 6. Control-click (or right-click) on them. Choose "Photo Merge -> HDR." If you've used a tripod, you only need to Auto Tone, not Auto Allign. The Deghost controls are for objects moving within the scene between frames like a wave or people.

The result is a new RAW image to edit with insane dynamic range. Not only is this fun, it's changing the way I approach high contrast scenes.