Over the past month, while traveling through the Appalachian mountains, I have begun experimenting with taking true panoramic images. Not one image cropped to a 3:1 ratio, but a series of images side by side that, when stitched together, create a true high-res panoramic. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful when both shooting and stitching panos:
- Shoot your series of images vertically, not horizontally. This greatly decreases perspective distortion and allows you to include more in your pano.
- Shoot on Manual mode after making a metering estimate. This way, you will not have slightly lighter or darker images in your series where in-camera metering may have changed the exposure from picture to picture.
- Keep the horizon level and in the same place on every image.
- I didn’t do this very well in the sample images below, but it’s always nice to show depth by including foreground objects.
- Leave plenty of overlap between each picture in a series. I usually overlap by thirds.
- Rotate the camera on the nodal point. The nodal point is basically the very front of your lens. So, instead of rotating where you are standing, mentally draw a line from end of the lens to the ground, and then rotate the camera on that. There are special tripods that do this perfectly, but complete accuracy is not necessary with programs like Photoshop.
- I have found Photoshop’s Photomerge to be incredibly accurate and saves a ton of time. I usually use the Reposition option and check Blend Images Together. Cropping and touching up are still necessary, but that’s nothing in comparison the time spent in manually merging.
Hope that’s helpful for anyone who hasn’t tried creating panoramas yet.
An overlook near Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, NC. That’s I40 down in the righthand corner.
View from Clingmans Dome, highest point in Tennessee. This 360 overlook is right in the middle of Smokey Mountain National Park.
This panorama, from a South Korean mountaintop in April, is an example of self-stitching. Because of how difficult it was to keep the horizon straight, I took a few pictures in the sequence crooked, and Photoshop was unable to stich it together.