Create a Panorama
Panoramic images have an enduring appeal, mainly because they most closely replicate our viewing experience when we look at a big vista: our eyes scan across the scene, taking it all in. The adoption of the widescreen format as standard for TV and movies has arguably boosted their popularity further in recent years.
Creating a stitched panorama is a two-stage process. First, you need to take a series of shots, then you need to combine them into a single panoramic image on the computer. Specialist software is available to “stitch” images together, but excellent results can be obtained using the industry standard software, Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
Photoshop Elements also has the facility to merge images. Specialist tripod heads for shooting panoramas are available-these make lining up your shots easier-but, unless you plan on creating a lot of them, any good, stable head will do.
Serious panorama photographers will insist that images should be shot in portrait (vertical) format, which means you will need to shoot seven or more images to provide a wide enough view.
It’s certainly true that you will get less distortion if you stitch vertical images, but for this assignment you can shoot in landscape orientation and post-process using the instructions overleaf. As long as you have no close foreground, you won’t run into any serious problems. This also has the advantage of requiring fewer images, and therefore there is less chance of the light changing dramatically in the time it takes to shoot your sequence.
View the images
- Shoot in Manual exposure mode, so the exposure is consistent across the frames.
- Allow extra space at the top and bottom of the image for cropping.
- Don’t use a polarizing filter. As the camera angle changes, so will the amount of polarization, which will be uneven across the frames as a result.
- Pan the camera between each shot, allowing an overlap of around 30 per cent from one shot to the next.
- Tripod (with spirit level)
- Stable tripod head
- Leveling base (optional)
- Post-processing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom
- Getting the tripod and camera completely level is the key to a good panorama.
- Use a tripod with a built-in spirit level to help you set up accurately – a levelling base will make this even easier.
- Use your camera’s electronic level if it has one or use a hotshot-mounted bubble level.
- A pan-and-tilt tripod head or a three-way geared head will make it easier together your camera level.