Brandon Yoshizawa creates panoramas to capture the sprawling vistas and cityscapes of the American west
Panoramas are Brandon’s passion – and in the western US, he’s found lots of amazing vistas to shoot.
I grew up in Torrance, California and started taking pictures four years ago as a way to document my travels around the world. Being able to capture amazing vistas and city skylines allows me not only to share these views with others, but also to create memories that I will be able to look back on for a lifetime.
My first camera was a Panasonic FZ-28. As my love of photography grew, I purchased a Nikon D7000 and began planning trips around photo opportunities. Getting up early and staying out late to chase the light became the norm. I love the functionality of the D7000, especially the ISO capabilities and dual card slots. It’s light and compact enough not to weigh me down when I am out hiking.
Getting more in a frame
Most of my landscape photos are taken with the Tokina 11-16mm. Sometimes I still won’t have the field of view that I need to portray the entire scene, so I use panoramic photography to expand what can be seen. For example, the skyline shot of San Francisco  was taken from Treasure Island and is a threeshot horizontal stitch of the city and the Bay bridge.
With the advanced stitching software available, creating panoramic images is easier than ever but there are still things
to remember to ensure that the program can align everything.
I scan the entire scene to check the recommended shutter speed and aperture, and if the dynamic range differs greatly I’ll switch to manual mode and choose a middle exposure to meter from. If the dynamic range is too great within each frame, I’ll first bracket shots for exposure, then combine them as a panoramic image, as with the images from Death Valley  and Lake Crescent .
I level my tripod and camera to avoid distortion and converging verticals that can cause problems with stitching. If shooting handheld, I either shoot vertical or zoom out so I don’t have to crop out details.
The sign of success
All rules went out the window for the shot taken from behind the Hollywood sign . I had to stand on a stool to be able to see over the fence, balancing my tripod against the fence. I also had to shoot downward. Not being able to level everything and not having a head that can rotate around the nodal point of the lens caused parallax and alignment issues with the sign and created difficulties when stitching, but it was worth it.
While I use a circular polariser on most of my landscape shots,
If the dynamic range differs greatly [across a scene] I’ll switch to manual mode and choose a middle exposure to meter from
one thing to watch out for with panoramic shots is uneven polarisation, as it will change depending on your angle to the sun. Use it carefully or remove it for panoramic photos. Lastly, I tend to overlap my shots by 30 to 40 per cent to ensure there is enough data to stitch properly. All the photos then get loaded into Photoshop, which does the heavy lifting.
I have been fortunate enough to travel to some amazing places, and hope to be able to keep capturing them for a long time.
02 Death Va lley Badwa ter Basin Nikon D7000, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, 1/5 sec, f/14, ISO100
03 03 Hollywo d Sunset Nikon D7000, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, 15 secs, f/8, ISO100
04 Lak e Crescent
Nikon D7000, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, 1/8 sec, f/11, ISO100