Guide to Panorama Photography

Most of us wonder how Panoramic Photographs are taken. Ultra wide Lenses come to some rescue but only to an extent – but nothing comparable to a Panorama. Some Cameras are capable to make a Panorama on the go. However, not always the results come out well.  If your camera that doesn’t have a built in Panorama application, don’t worry – you can make your own beautiful panorama using the camera you already own whether it’s a DSLR or a Point & Shoot. Here are a few quick steps for Planning and Post Processing.

Panorama is a set of stitched Photographs, in which two adjacent Photographs must have at least 20% overlapping areas. Greater the overlapping, better will the quality of output.

Here are a few guiding factors to create a perfect Panorama.

  1. Use only Manual Mode – this will ensure an equal exposure in all the Photographs.
  2. Image Format – You may shoot in RAW but to save time JPEG is a preferable format to shoot with. You can always shoot in RAW (See Tip at the end of the Article), but while shooting in JPEG make sure you have ensured correct Exposure.
  3. Tripod / Handheld – Although using a Tripod is advantageous for an absolute same focal plane but at times carrying around a Tripod is always not feasible. Hence, in most situations a perfect steady posture or using a sturdy surface to rest the camera on will help in creating a balanced series.
  4. Be Fast – This is the key to shoot Panoramas. Any fast moving objects recorded in two or more photographs will create duplication in the final Panorama.
  5. Plan out well – Before shooting a Panorama make sure you have planned the sequence and number of overlapping Photographs.

When you are ready, stand at a chosen place and start shooting from Left to Right. Make sure you have at least 20% overlapping areas. An eye estimate will more than suffice. Don’t look at individual Photographs while shooting. Before leaving the scene turn on the LCD and review the series. If you are not happy, shoot again.

Next comes the Post Processing. Store the series in a separate Folder. There is plenty of Panorama Stitching Software available, but we will use Adobe Photoshop as most of us accustomed to it. Note: Never edit individual JPEGs before stitching. Open Photoshop > Click File > Automate > Photomerge (Step – 1). Click browse and locate the series Folder and choose all the Photographs. The Layout “Auto” works out well in most scenarios (Step – 2).

Step – 1

Step – 2

Step – 3

Depending on the number of Photographs it will take a while for the Final Image to be (Step – 3). Right Click on the Layers and click Merge Layers. Next use the Crop Tool to clear out the Blank portions of the Frame. After the Final retouches you are done with your very own Panorama.

Final Image

Links to Other Panorama Stitching – Software:

AutoStitch – http://www.cs.bath.ac.uk/brown/autostitch/autostitch.html

PTGui – http://www.ptgui.com/info/panorama_software.html

Hugin – http://hugin.sourceforge.net/download/

AutoPano – http://autopano.kolor.com/

Microsoft Image Composite Editor – http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ICE/

Post Processing Tip for photographers who prefer shooting in RAW over JPEG:

If you shoot in RAW all you need to do is open all the RAWs in ACR (preferably) with exact similar adjustments and convert the output in JPEG and perform the necessary merging in Adobe Photoshop.