How to Photograph Panoramas Featured

Edited by Teresa, TechFlash1, Illneedasaviour, Teresa Pham and 5 others

Panoramic or wide format photography allows you to use a special technique to stitch together multiple images from the same camera to form a single large photograph[1]. Panoramic shots aren't only a process left for pros and those with fancy camera gear; anyone can take a panorama! Use these simple steps to start creating your own beautiful large scale photographs.

  1. Pick what you're photographing. Choose your scene and decide what type of panorama you are going to be photographing. Distant scenes such as mountains, calm lakes, and sunsets stitch together the best because they don't cause parallax. Panoramas can be made of as few as two photos or up to 50 and more.
    How to Photograph Panoramas
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  • A horizontal sequence shot creates a wide image across a scene. For example, if you wanted to photograph a wide plain, you would use a horizontal sequence shot.
  • Use a vertical sequence shot to create a tall image of a scene. For example, if you wanted to photograph a waterfall, you would use a vertical sequence shot.
  • A 360 degree panoramic shot allows you take in the whole scene in one shot. If you wanted to capture the entire scene all the way around you, you would use a 360 degree shot.

2 Change your camera settings. If your camera has a panorama function, use it[2]. The panorama functions on a digital camera or cell phone will allow you to take panoramic images easily by helping you to line up one image after the other so that they fit together seamlessly. If you are using a DSLR camera, adjust it to be in manual mode. Keeping a camera in automatic mode will guarantee that all of your photos have different exposure levels and focuses.

3 Lock your camera's exposure. Take a few test photos to find the perfect exposure, so that your panorama isn't too light or too dark. Find a happy medium for the exposure so that all your photos will be the right brightness.[1].

How to Photograph Panoramas

4 Adjust the focus. Set your lens to Manual focus. This stops the camera from automatically refocusing on a different point whenever you take a new picture.

How to Photograph Panoramas

5 Choose a lens. Although it might sound reasonable to use a wide angle lens to create a panoramic view, using one can actually increase the amount of flaring that is created when the photos are stitched together. Use a lens smaller than 50mm and larger than 25mm for the best panoramic shot. [3].

How to Photograph Panoramas
  • If possible, use a prime lens that has a single focal length and does not zoom.
  • Remove any filters, polarizing or otherwise, from your lens before you begin shooting. Otherwise, there will be a lot of discoloration between each photo.

6 Set up your tripod. This will help you keep your camera steady and will allow you to control it easier. Place your tripod on a smooth, flat surface that will not be budged by wind. Test your tripod to make sure that you can easily pan across or up and down without struggling with the equipment. You can take a panoramic shot without using a tripod, but you will likely have a hard time keeping the photographs steady and even.

How to Photograph Panoramas

7 Identify a start and end point. You will have to hold very steady as you take your photos, so it is good to keep in mind what you want to start on the left side of the stitched photo, and what will end on the right side.

How to Photograph Panoramas

8 Take your photos. Start along the leftmost edge of your ideal stitched photo, and begin taking pictures. Look through the viewfinder of your camera rather than the LCD screen to accurately line up the scene. Each photo should overlap the one prior to it by 30-50%[4]

  • Watch out for any movement in the foreground of your photo, as this will create blurry spots in your final picture. This includes wind-blown branches and waves; unless the wind is very strong, avoid shooting anything greatly affected by the wind.
  • Keep your camera at eye level all the way across your scene, otherwise you will create parallax in the foreground or skyline. Avoid dipping the end of the lens up or down to capture details, as this will put the photos out of line when stitched together.

9 Stitch the pictures together. Once you have taken the pictures you need, you'll want to stitch them together into a panoramic shot using software. Several panoramic photo-editing software programs are available including Photoshop, Hugins, and PTGui, the latter of the two being downloadable for free.

How to Photograph Panoramas
  • Upload the photos to your computer and put them in one folder. You will want them to be numbered in order so that you can easily select the correct sequence of photos for your panorama.
  • In Adobe Photoshop, you can easily create a panoramic shot by selecting all your images and clicking the "Merge to Panorama" option. This will create a seamless panoramic shot. The other panoramic photo programs have easy-to-follow directions for stitching your photos together and adjusting them accordingly.

10 Print your panorama. Panoramic shots make great prints because they capture a massive scene in just a single frame. Print your panorama on a large scale for the best looking shots, showcasing the grandeur of the scene and taking full advantage of the multiple shots.

  • If you don't have a tripod and are shooting hand held, keep your elbows close to your body and only rotate the top half of your body. You want to pretend that you are the tripod and swiveling around. Don't take any steps, as that will disturb the photographs.
  • Check the photos as you're taking them to make sure that the lighting and settings are all consistent.

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