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