Two weeks ago, Raymond James Stadium and then #21 ranked University of South Florida Bulls hosted the #7 ranked University of Cincinnati Bearcats. The game was the featured matchup for Thursday night ESPN Primetime football and I was tasked with photographing it. Sports Information Director Christ Freet challenged me to shoot a horizontal panoramic of the stadium that captured the stadium filled to near capacity.
After doing some research and chatting with fellow sports photographer J. Meric, I positioned myself next to the 50-yard line ESPN camera at the top of club level seating. Using a tripod and my Nikon D3 with a 10.5 mm fisheye, I shot a five image bracket with the camera mounted to shoot vertical images. I did these three separate times to capture a total of 15 images, three for each piece of the stadium that I then intended to stitch together for the panoramic. The 10.5 mm was more than adequate to capture the field of play in one shot but I wanted the longest possible pano and I wanted to try and use High Dynamic Range to open up the shadows in the foreground.
Today, I processed the fifteen images using HDR to create three high resolution images of the stadium. These images combined to form a panoramic from end zone to end zone of Raymond James Stadium. Adobe Photoshop's Photomerge failed to automatically stitch the images successfully so I used Arcsoft's Panorama Maker 5 to combine them into a coherent image. My only regret is the ESPN camera that pokes into the frame at far left, obscuring a few rows of club level seats.