Penny's Panorama

21 August 2015

Region: London

Penny Dixie ARPS proudly shares her fabulous Woodberry Wetlands panorama.


London is an amazing resource for nature and wildlife lovers and inner city Hackney, where I have lived for 35 years, occupies a particularly special place in my heart.  It's a very vibrant and green borough and now, a small corner of Stoke Newington is about to get even more exciting with the opening of Woodberry Wetlands.  The London Wildlife Trust, in partnership with Thames Water, Berkeley Homes and the Heritage Lottery Fund are transforming East Reservoir into Woodberry Wetlands.  This little green and blue oasis hasn’t been opened to the public since it was constructed in 1883 and so nature has been given free reign.  The reservoir is home to birds such as reed bunting, song thrush, kingfisher and the occasional bittern, and provides valuable foraging and roosting habitat for bats.

With London Wildife Trust managing the habitat for wildlife, HLF developing the reservoir’s old Coal House into a new visitor centre and Berkeley Homes building a new boardwalk through the reedbeds, the transformed Woodberry Wetlands is due to open in November 2016.  A new bridge has been put into place over the adjoining river and a hoarding has been put up around this access point waiting for opening day.  

Woodberry Wetlands has become my ‘happy place’.  Just 15 minutes walk from my home, it’s the place where I can breathe, learn more about nature and watch the seasons, the weather and the wildlife and I can indulge my photography to my heart’s content. 

I was asked if I had some photographs to go on the hoarding but since it’s 8m by about 2m, it needed something very special to cope with the extraordinary ratio.  The brief was to produce an image that would show passers-by what was hidden behind the hoarding, oh and please could I do it yesterday because the deadline is tomorrow morning?  I had one day to do it!   Happily, the weather gods were relatively kind to me, the clouds were rolling across the sky and periodically, the reflections in the water positively glowed.  Standing on the board walk with my back to the hoarding, I worked on creating a panorama out of vertical frames.  The dynamic range was such that the eventual image was made of 3 frames blended out of 2 or 3 images each and then stitched onto the remaining 4 vertical frames. Adobe Lightroom came up trumps and if you haven’t tried the photo merge function for HDR or panoramas you really should!  Once you’ve done that, try an HDR’d photo merge! While the 12 or 13 frames were being blended and then stitched, the computer nearly ground to a halt.  I paced up and down in the kitchen drinking coffee!  The resulting file has all the detail from all the RAW images and is spectacularly huge and the processing potential is phenomenal. 

The final image had space in the sky for editorial headlines and space in the reedbeds for further text to be printed.  I sent it off at late o’clock and hoped that they liked it. They did!  I have now had the extraordinary experience of going to see this huge vinyl picture of mine.  It’s very weird seeing your work quite so huge!  Weird but very satisfying. While a number of people walked past, I sat on a park bench and just looked. Wow!

Image © Penny Dixie ARPS