Panoramic images

Shooting panoramic images is not as difficult as you might think while admiring brilliant effects. One of our users, Imagestalk, recently

posted a short blog article with just a few examples taken from his portfolio. The response was - great images! And they are!

Although panoramas were possible to produce in analog era, it's so much easier now, with just a little help of some wise

software and just a bit of know-how, you should do wonders. Let me share my own experiences here:

Shooting:

1. More often than not, you'll be shooting far away objects. So, go to manual mode in your camera, do some test shots and adjust the settings

(aperture/shutter/iso). When done, focus nicely and TURN OFF auto focus - you are shooting far away objects, the depth of field will easily cover

the slight differences in the distance. What is it for? Well, your camera doesn't try to focus/refocus, sparing your precious time (more of it soon).

2. Shots should overlay, dont's forget that!! Image1 needs to have some area that Image2 has as well. The software is only able to stitch when it

can find control points - same points in two neighbouring images. 20% overlaying should be enough.

3. Try to shoot the parts vertically. Why? Usually the side areas of the image are optically weaker than the center. You want them to appear at the bottom (some grass/ground) or

top of the final image (skies/clouds). And there are some complicated optical rules I wouldn't like to get much into, but believe me, it works.

4. The use of polarizing filter. Well, this one depends much of the quality of software you're stitching your panoramas with. The worse the software, the more I'd suggest

to take the polarizing filter off. If your software can deal with blending nicely, you might both take advantage of polarizer assets and enjoy nice final effects.

Subject to test yourself. The problem to deal with here is, that each partial image is affected with the filter. It may bring some problems while

blending sky colors in post-processing and unpleasant/unnatural look.

5. If possible, use tripod while shooting. Be firm and quick. Things change in nature - light changes, clouds move etc. That's why you don't have time to

bother about your AF looking for this cloud or that tree.

6. Shoot wider that you're planning your final result to be. In post-processing some areas of your image, due to warping, distoring, cropping, will get lost.

Give yourself a margin.

Preparing images before stitching:

1. Because more and more photogs shoot RAW these days, remember to get the whole set of images to be stitched all at once in RAW processing program

and apply the same settings to all of them. It's obvious, yet some people forget about it and have problems at the next stage.

Software:

That's the most important part, not counting the beautiful place you have just shot:)

I experimented with a few programs. Most of us probably use PS CS3/4 anyway. Its panorama stitching performance gets better with each edition, still, I wouldn't personally

call it perfect. I had numerous times when my set of base images was declined by CS because it couldn't find control points, or color blending was not perfect. I believe

that PS CS is a great tool generally, but you'll be happier with your results using some dedicated software. It's almost the same as with HDR processing - CS PS has it, but

Photomatix is better. (*disclaimer below:))

As there are quite a few of dedicated programs to do nice stitching work, I'd advise to try and choose yourself. Google the term "panorama stitching" and you'll get some

ideas to start with. Most of them offer you trial versions, so go out there, shoot some panoramas and try one against the other! In time, you'll realize that stitching is

possible not only while producing wide horizontal images - you can stitch vertical/square/you name it. The key is - control points.

What are panoramas for?

1. Panoramic postcards - did you notice they are getting more and more popular?

2. Website headers

3. Vertical/horizontal design elements.

4. Huge resolution images for print.

5. Wide interiors

6. 180/360 degrees images - wild:)

See some of brilliant DT panoramas here.

Base images might be used in some really breathtaking projects like this. But that's a whole different article:)

*disclaimer:

All software comments and recommendations in this blog are based on personal experience only. Try it yourself and judge whether it works for you or not. The author of that article uses PTGui software.

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January 20, 2012

Markbfowler

Thanks for sharing great information on panoramic images! I have two things to add: (1) I prefer an overlap of 60% - Why? Because sometimes the only way to save a composition is to throw away an image that just did not come out. And using an overlap of 60% allows for that. (2) I shoot hand-held because a tripod that is not exactly level will result in a curved horizon. No matter how "real" this is, it looks funny in the final composition and CS5, at least, has trouble lining these images up. It is, however, critically important that you line up the horizon manually from image to image. I choose some percent of the bottom of the image that marks the horizon, then keep my eyes on that same portion of the view finder on each picture taken.

October 24, 2011

Suebmtl

Very useful.
Thank you.

October 23, 2011

Livingstonatlarge

I submitted my first panorama a few weeks ago and it was accepted right away. Because of the nature of the photo it is editorial but it was a big boost just to know that it was welcome!

September 16, 2009

Creativei

Even I had written a blog on panorama, here is the link, may be useful for someone as the topic is similar.

September 05, 2009

Lupideloop

Great and useful article! Thanks

August 22, 2009

Imagestalk

:)

August 21, 2009

Hlehnerer

Very useful article!

August 21, 2009

Littledesire

Nice blog! I could say CS3 works fine for me .. never had problems with panoramas. The only thing I haven't done is trying to shoot the parts vertically. Next time!

August 20, 2009

Wildmac

Great article! Thanks for sharing. I'm trying "Hugin" for panoramas at the moment. It works a lot better than the last programme I used.

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This article has been read 2881 times. Photo credits: Ben Goode.