New Orleans: Hotel Monteleone panorama

I just got back from four days in New Orleans (and two days on the road), and had the pleasant experience of staying at the beautiful and very hospitably run Hotel Monteleone.

Hotel Monteleone

(ISO 500, f/9, 1/80 – 1/20 sec.)

The facade faces Royal Street, a one-way affair that is about three car-widths wide (i.e., when the cars’ sides are touching each other). No possibility of backing up far enough to capture this much of the structure with a wide-angle lens, at least not without the kind of distortion that comes from a fisheye lens. So I used my favorite lens for panoramas—the Canon 50mm f/1.4. This is wide enough to allow the capture of a large area in relatively few repositionings of the camera, but long enough that one obtains a lot more detail in the final image than if the shot had been captured with a single wide-angle frame.

Uncropped, unwarped frame from the center of the Hotel Monteleone panoramaHere is an uncropped, unwarped frame from the center of the panorama.

Another point perhaps of technical interest is that there are three different exposures in the final image. The top area was shot at 1/80th sec. But the surrounding buildings made the bottom part of the facade considerably darker, so the shots in this area were done at 1/40th sec. The awning further darkened the area beneath itself, so a final shot of just that area was done at 1/20th sec., and blended into the final stitched panorama using Photoshop. I prefer this method to HDR, which I think looks too funky too often. Plus, every time I try to make a tasteful HDR photo, it ends up looking like the HDR shots I don’t like.

Back to the question of distortion: Any shot like this is going to have its share of distortion, especially evident in the smaller platforms jutting out above the two middle flags. But it looks good enough, and the panoramic technique gives a unique view that can’t be obtained through other means.

I wish I had reshot the bottom left image when no people were there. I thought it would be good to include the man crossing the street, but didn’t reckon on his being distorted so as to appear twice as big as the people near the awning.

I also didn’t reckon that I would lose my Powershot S95 on this trip. I may have left it somewhere, as I don’t think there are any thieves among the folks working at the Monteleone. But hey, if you’re reading, and you come across it . . . drop me an e-mail! I’d be glad not to have to buy a new camera.

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