Travelling with multiple lenses can be a nuisance.

Yes in an ideal world you’d have a lens for every occasion, but for the majority of people out there, it’s a matter of buying one lens that you’ll get the most use out of, and sticking to it.

When it comes to wildlife, more often than not a good zoom lens is what you want. You’re not always close to the action so need a bit more length for some nice close-ups. One with a decent range is preferable; Canon’s 100-400mm and Nikon’s 80-400mm are very popular. If you want information about hiring lenses during your Londolozi stay, click here.

Sometimes, however, it’s less zoom that you’re after. If your telephoto lens just doesn’t have the width that you need to adequately capture a scene, and you don’t have a wide-angle lens to switch to, don’t despair.

Stitching is the answer.

Stitching is combining multiple digital frames with overlapping fields of view into one final image.

The Mashaba female leopard lying up in a Knobthorn tree; a composite of 18 photos.

Some of the Tsalala pride lie below Ximpalapala Koppie during the drought; a composite of 8 photos.

Modern photographic software is tremendously powerful. By analysing and comparing the pixels that make up different digital photographs, programs like Adobe Lightroom are able to recognise when there is a significant amount of overlap between them, and merge them accordingly.

Knowing this, by taking multiple images one is able to capture a much wider scene when limited by a zoom lens, letting the software merge them into one.

Kylie Jones ran a post a few months ago on how to take Panoramic photos using merging software, and the concept is exactly the same, the only difference being that you are not only shooting laterally, but vertically as well. The only difference between the two processes in Lightroom is for stitching a photo that isn’t a single-plane panorama, you’re better off clicking Perspective instead of Spherical in the Panorama Merge Preview box:

Screenshot 2018 02 26 14.04.02

Spherical may well still work, but is usually better employed in wider panoramas.

The following photo of the Anderson male leopard is actually a composite:

Just taking a photograph of the leopard, or just the hyena, wouldn’t have been enough to tell the story, and I was shooting with a 70-200mm lens, which, for where we were parked amongst the bushwillow trees, was nowhere close to giving me a wide enough angle to capture the whole scene in one image.

Realising this, I was forced to take multiple shots and then stitch them together in Lightroom afterwards (refer to Kylie’s blog for the actual step-by-step on how to do this):

Anderson Smalls1

As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap between the individual photos. This gives the post-processing software more information to use and makes it far more likely that the final stitch will be seamless.

If one looks carefully at the Anderson male in the small images, you can see that he’s not exactly in the same position in each shot; he was cleaning the blood off his paws, and this kind of movement can end up compromising the final stitched image.


Luckily I got away with it, as the stitch that Lightroom put together didn’t have him looking distorted. This technique is risky when you have a lot of movement in a scene, but in this instance it was only really the leopard’s head and paw that moved, and the final result was relatively unaffected.

Most of the rules for this kind of photography were covered in Kylie’s blog, as the principles are essentially the same, but I thought I’d reiterate some of the more important ones:

Shoot in Manual Mode

As you move your camera around the scene, there will most likely be changes in the amount of light it is detecting. In the above shot, pointing the lens at the hyena vs pointing at the leopard with a bright sky as a background would have given me very different exposures. Manual mode will keep a consistent exposure throughout the scene, making the final merge far more reflective of the scene instead of giving a range of exposures across a single image.

Overlap each photo by 50%

This gives the software more to work with, and will usually result in a much more seamless stitch.

Pause for each shot

When moving the camera quickly across the scene, it can be easy to just shoot while moving continuously. Even if you have a high shutter speed, moving while shooting will compromise the sharpness of each image. Make sure you pause and keep the camera still before pressing the shutter, then move again afterwards.

Mashaba Composite Jt

Callum Gowar, Jerry Hambana and guests below a Sausage tree in which the Mashaba female leopard lies. A stitch of about 12 images. Annoyingly I forgot about the bean bag in the way at the bottom of the shot, but you get the idea.

This is a very easy technique to master. Thankfully these days the software takes care of the grunt work; you just to tweak some settings and push the shutter button a few times, then let the computer do the rest…

Filed under Photography

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

View James's profile


on How To Take a Wide Angle Photograph Without a Wide Angle Lens

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Great tips James. Definitely going to try it next time. Luckily we have got technology to help us fix photos.

Michael & Terri Klauber

Thanks James! We have done panoramas in Lightroom and Photoshop, but never a whole scene like that. It’s all about telling the story isn’t it! We will try it out for sure.

Guy Lacy Chapman

This was some good information, James. Very helpful!

Joanne Wadsworth

Good and solid information. Thanks James!

Jeffrey Webster

Love the composite of the Anderson male and the hyena. Really get the perspective.

Kev Kenyon

Hi James which software would you recommend

James Tyrrell

Hi Kev,

For what?

Kev Kenyon

For stitching photos

James Tyrrell

Kev Adobe Lightroom is more than adequate. I’m sure you can do it in Photoshop as well but I’ve always used Lightroom…

Callum Evans

I’ve never tried stitching, I’m not sure if I have the right software to do it

Kev Kenyon

Thanks James … will give it a Try

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
Add Profile