Wide Angle Photography or Photoshop?

The Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona is probably the greatest natural wonder in private hands. At least in America. It is an overlooked jewel outshined by the publicity that National and State Parks gather.

At over 4,000 feet across, the crater is impossible to fully photograph from the observation platforms provided. The crater is just too wide.

Some cameras stitch a series of photographs together to form a panorama. You take a number of photographs, preferably using a tripod, about 25° apart, and then you let the camera do its magic.

My Canon lacks that ability so I used the Photomerge feature in Photoshop. From two different vantage points I took a series of photographs and later put them together when I got back home.

The first set turned out poorly; they were taken from a low elevation and didn’t get the scope of the crater. The second set turned out much better and with luck that panorama will go into my book.

On a whim I took a shot with my expensive and impressive looking wide angle lens. How would it do compare with Photomerge? it almost worked.

The lens almost captured the width of the crater. But see that viewing platform in the lower right hand corner? It’s at an odd angle, made so by the distortion every wide angle lens introduces. Had I not included the platform I may have succeeded with that shot.


All in all, the photomerge function worked far better. It uses a set of photos taken with a regular lens that has little to no distortion. And it covered a wider field of view. But the wide angle lens has its place when you are trying to be artistic or when you do have a composition that will be little bothered by the almost fish-eye effect. See below.