Manual Layer Blending
coming soon …..
How to Photograph Panoramas
I have often been asked why I take panoramic photographs and how I take my panoramic images . I find creating a panoramic photograph allows the viewer to immerse themself in the location photographed , living in Australia the panoramic format lends its self to the wide open spaces and unspoilt natural landscape .
Before the digital revolution to create a panoramic photograph required having to invest in expensive equipment as large format cameras and super-wide angle lens to get detailed high resolution images and professional know how to get a satisfactory result . Know however with the leaps and bounds technology is progressing amateur photographers can take any number of single photographs while panning around the scene , then use computer software and stitch the images on a computer to create a detailed panoramic photograph . Panoramic photography is a genre that all photographers can access but does require practice and some dedication to get satisfactory results .
Once you have found the location you wish to photography the most important part is to take you time to set up and don’t rush . The more care you take with setting up your shots the better the end results will pay off . I wont go into details of best time to photography or composition etc as these things can be learnt with taking single shot images .
Setting up involves erecting the tripod , if you have a panoramic head setting this up ( you don’t necessarily need a panoramic head to take panoramic photography’s , but they will help if you include a lot of foreground in your shots and will eliminate parallax error ) Make sure the tripod and camera is as level as possible as this will improve the ease of the images stitching together correctly A spirit level on your tripod head will help with this if you don’t have one you can buy a hotshoe sprit level fairly cheap which attaches to your camera .
I all ways shot my images with the camera mounted vertically (in Portrait orientation) on the tripod . This will give you a greater angle of view plus also will counter any distortion that you may have which is caused at the edges of your frame with some wide lens .
With regards to lens I normally would use a prime lens as they offers superior optics compared to zoom lens , and generally go with a focal length of 50mm or over as this will help eliminate distortion (Please take into account if your camera is not a full size senor then a 50mm lens would probably be equivalent to 70mm due to the 1.6 crop factor so you could get away with using a smaller focal length ). I wouldn’t recommend using a wide angle lens for panoramic images if you don’t have a panoramic head as they will increase the parallax error . You can still use a smaller focal length and get saficatory results but it will increase you chances of getting images that don’t stitch properly or have distortions in them .
Next is camera settings which is very important when photographing panoramic images , you will want to keep all your settings the same on each shot taken so shooting on manual is a must . I all ways shot in RAW as they offers the highest quality images plus when it comes to editing they give you more control with post editing with out destroying pixels plus you can change things like white balance and use recovery to bring back blown hi lights .
For landscape photography you will generally want a clean noise free image so I recommend shooting on ISO 100 or under . In low light you can all ways increase your shutter length as you will be using a tripod and won’t need to worry about camera shakes . As for aperture you will want to keep as many elements in the image as sharp as possible so a small aperture will increase depth of field .
Next stage is to meter the sense you want to photograph to work out what shutter speed you will require . it is important to pan the whole scene you want to photograph as there could be a huge exposure difference from the first image to the last image . Take into account high lights and dark area and find a shutter speed which will give you a decent exposure over the whole scene . Some useful equipment may be to use ND grad filters to help even out the exposure between the sky and land to give you a great dynamic range .
Final stage is to focus on a point in the scene you want to photograph and then switch to manual focus , otherwise you’ll find inconsistencies in the focusing a cross the panorama .
Now that you have you tripod set up and your camera setting ready its just a case of panning the camera around the scene and taking the images . Its important to give your self at least 20 – 40 % overlap on each image that will give the computer software enough reference points to enable it to stitch correctly . If you have a panorama head the indent rings will stop you at the correct spot to take the next image , if you don’t an easy way is to pick an object on the side of the first shoot then pan your camera making sure that object is still in frame on your second shot.
Hope this answers some questions people had about how I photography panoramic images . Next post will be how to stitch the images when you get them back to your computer .
– If your shooting lots of simular panoramas in one go it may get confusing to know where one group of images starts and one stops , a help way is at the start of the set of images to take a photography of you thumb up in the frame then start your series of images and after you have taken the last shot take a photo of you thumb facing down . This will make it easy for you to see where one group of images start and one stops .
– Don’t be afraid to take lots of images you will learn from you mistakes and develop your skills
– Invest in some grad filters these are a must when photographing landscapes
– Learn to use your camera in manual mode
– If starting out try a small panoramic image of only a couple of images just to get practice .