19 tips to the perfect Panoramic Image

Ermo pano v1

19 tips to the perfect Panoramic Image

 Sometimes the vista is just too wide for one frame. When you crop it down , the final image is such a small file along with the lens perspective feeling off. Photoshop has been refining the solution.

 Photoshop is not the only software that stitches multiple panoramic shots together. Often, the software that comes with your camera has this photo manipulation option. At the end of this article I will give links to some photo stitching software besides Photoshop.

 The trick to creating a great panoramic image lies in the initial photography approach. Even the camera is not as important.

 One photographer talked about how he created an amazing shot from Hawaii. Most photographers would get to that particular ridge hours early to get the perfect spot. Tripods were set up to claim the best spots; all waiting for the perfect light, all very territorial of their vantage point. So, as Jack Davis tells his story, he asked if he could slip in with his little camera to take the shot. They all smiled while letting him snap off several images.

 He produced an amazing image, which when stitched into a stunning large photo the file size was 5 or 6 times what the other photographers’ cameras were delivering.

compiled Panorama1

 Here are the tricks to get amazing stitched panoramic images.

 1)     Take each frame in a vertical camera position. When stitched you will have a horizontal.

2)     Don’t crop too tight. The software adjusts for camera shifting so you might have some empty space.

3)     You can use auto focus to get the initial focus set but then turn auto focus off. As you move your camera the sensor might be in different places, or even the sky, giving you a variable focus across the image.

4)     Shoot Manual. You can use auto features to determine the exposure, note those then go to manual. As your camera pans, if the light is different, say one shot is mostly shadow or the amount of sky and clouds vary, the exposure will vary across the images.

5)     For exposure, find the most average area to expose for, not the shadows or the brightest spot.

6)     Turn off auto ISO if your camera has it, it alters the exposure like the auto exposure settings do.

7)     Set your F-stop to a large number to get the greatest depth of field and thus sharpness.

8)    Overlap, let me repeat that, Overlap, at least one quarter but closer to a third is better. All software uses the overlap to align the images. The more reference points they have to work with the more seamless the stitch will be.

9)     The shots don’t have to be just linear. You can do a row of shots, then the next row could be the foreground. When you do this, overlap the sides and the top/bottom of the images.

10)  Telephoto lenses work best since there is little lens distortion with them.

11)  If you use a tripod turn off your image stabilization functions. Be sure the tripod is level; as you pan a non-level tripod it creates unexpected results when stitching.

12)  If you don’t use a tripod your body position is critical. Lock your arms in and rotate with your body. Keep the camera close to your head while keeping the camera vertically fixed.

13)  Do it fairly quickly to avoid moving clouds, people or shadows.

14)  The creative opposite approach to the above tip is do it slowly but have people or things in the foreground move to different frames so they reappear in several places in the same image.

15)  All your normal considerations, composition, having a focal point of interest, level horizon lines still have to happen.

16)  Shoot in Raw if you can, you can fine tune or alter the white balance.

17)  If you can, either set a white balance or use a grey card for a postproduction control of white balance.

18) Before you leave, check each frame for any issues that would cause you to redo the shot like blurring from movement or a wrong setting.

19)  This approach doesn’t need to be used for just sprawling scenics. It is a great way to create a large file from a normal subject.

 Panoramic images are fun to take. I have seen some very clever display approaches. One photographer did panoramas in all four directions of a spectacular mountain view. The long strips of each image were stacked on the wall showing the whole view. Another did the Pano as a vertical series, working with waterfalls and tall buildings.

 You can even create rolling gifs with them. No matter what you do with your panoramic image, it is unusual and eye-catching. Have fun with them.

 Here is some software that you can use to create your our panoramic masterpieces if you don’t have Photoshop.

Here is a Wikipedia comparison of Photo Stitching software.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_photo_stitching_software

 https://www.ptgui.com  This is one of the more popular software solutions.

http://hugin.sourceforge.net  This is an August 2015 update release

http://www.serif.com/free-panoramic-photo-stitching-software/  Hard to beat free.

https://www.photostitcher.com

http://www.kolor.com/autopano/ this has some interesting approaches.

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