Panoramas are becoming easier to accomplish these days thanks to Adobe photoshop. This software easily allows digital photographers to stitch together separate photos taken in succession. I developed this interest during one of the Adobe Max session in Barcelona, Spain. (Jason Levine, Greg Rewis & Rufus Deuchler). The photoshop part I learned from these three men and Photgraphy tips by Kevin Moss, due credits to all the above lecturer.
Steps for shooting panoramic scenes
1. Select a scene that’s either wide or tall. When shooting panoramic images, don’t get caught in the habit of automatically shooting them in landscape orientation. You can also shoot a series of photos with your digital camera in the vertical position! Shooting a series of photos in portrait orientation is good for putting together grand landscapes in which you want to frame more foreground or background.
2. Use a sturdy tripod. Its always recommend shoot panoramas with tripod. A tripod helps you achieve the sharpest photos you can. Shooting panoramas on a tripod also helps you keep your series of shots level.
3. Meter the subject matter of the scene. You need to have the same exposure for each photo taken in your panoramic series. So the first step taking a meter, then using that aperture and shutter speed, adjust your camera in manual mode. This will ensure correct exposure setting for each sequence. Additionally, manually set your white balance to the conditions in which you’re shooting, such as daylight, cloudy conditions, or shade, because as you pan, your digital camera might change the white balance setting.
4. Take a series of photos. To begin your series of photos to use in a panorama, start on the left of the scene you’re shooting and take the first shot. Pan your camera to the right until you have overlapped the previous shot by 1/3. Take the second shot. Pan to the right again until you’ve overlapped the previous shot by 1/3 and take the photo. If your panorama requires a fourth frame, repeat the process, overlapping the previous frame by 1/3. It’s always better to choose some reference point in the subject so your next image is not panned too right leaving a gap in between two images.
5. Review your photos. Using your digital camera’s LCD, review your photos to make sure you achieved the results you intended. Check to make sure your images are sharp and properly metered, using the histogram to assist you in evaluating your exposure. Continue capturing different aspects of the scene to make sure you captured the panoramic frames you know will make a great panoramic.
Switch to Photoshop
1. Open each photo that you wish to add to the panorama in Photoshop. Open them sequentially, starting with the leftmost one first.
2. In Photoshop CS3 (not sure about other versions) go to File > Automate > Photomerge
3. In the dialog that appears choose Auto and then click the “Add Open Files” button
4. Check the filename numbers of the photos that are added, assuming you allow your camera to number your photos. If you started off shooting from the left of the panorama the lower numbers should be at the top.
Click OK. Now Photoshop goes into action. It analyzes and blends the photos. This could take several minutes. Once it is finished you will see what Photoshop and Photomerge could make out of your photos. After that you can crop the image to finish the panorama.
There is another option to use, but little lengthy process, i.e. Auto Align Layers & Auto Blend Layers, I use this option as you more control over the output.
Below is the first image I submitted to Dreamstime and approved in just a day. It consist of four images.
Lately I've been doing some panoramas from Azores (on this collection: https://www.dreamstime.com/azores-atlantic-islands-colldet9413) and I've used portrait on most of them. Some other situations I've even made some with more than one row of images. If I may add something: If the final image is to have elements that are close to the camera the rotation has to be more precise and be centered in the camera (to be precise it should centered around the N spot of the camera/lens) or the blending will be hard to do because of small perspective changes. Different from your process, my first stage it to set developing settings to zero (camera raw or lightroom), then I corrrect lens issues (sometimes I have purple fringe in strong contrast landscapes), recover heavy burnt lights and export (from raw) to some bitmap format (tiff or png 16bits). I then stitch files using Pano Tools and come back to photoshop for final colour and correction settings.
On point #1 - I often shoot 'wide' landscapes with the camera in the portrait orientation. It takes more frames for the same width, but then you have 50% more (in the 3/2 format) vertical pixels to work with giving a larger file overall.
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