Take Better Panoramas

Everyone loves playing with the panorama function on their iPhone, right?

It takes cool pics. And there is a lot of fun to be had messing with that particular setting. If you’re reading this blog, however, we’re guessing that you’re probably a bit more of an advanced photographer than someone who’s going to be completely satisfied getting a panoramic shot with their iPhone.

No offense to the iPhone’s ability to take photos (they are pretty good at it), nor to folks who are satisfied with those types of shots (nothing wrong with that).

This blog post is about upping your game with panoramic photography using your more advanced equipment, combined with the following technique tips, as you hunt for more professional images.

Panoramic photography is a special technique that stitches multiple images from the same camera together to form a single, wide photograph that is large and high in resolution. This can be done with both vertical or horizontal shots. Vertical images can capture more of the sky and ground and yield higher resolution panoramas compared to horizontal ones.

In our current digital day and age, as well as with our advanced software, it is now much easier to stitch images together. In fact, using a proper photography technique and panoramic equipment we can create pretty much near perfect stuff.

So, let us get started with some tips, tips, tips that hopefully can be utilized easily in the field to help improve your panoramic photos:

Use a Tripod

Just do it. Invest in a good one and use it. Often. We feel this one goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. With panoramic photography, because we’re going to be stitching several photos together it is pretty imperative that you are working with the best images possible. You cannot afford to have any shake, just the same as you’d prefer to not have any shake or movement in your normal landscape photos, but it’s even more crucial for your software’s ability to do what its supposed to do here. While you’re at it, maybe additionally try a panoramic tripod head. A tripod head is able to rotate on the center axis of your camera as you capture your series of images. Their 0-360 degree markers can be used to ensure your movements are completed with accuracy.

Shoot using a Aperture Priority

Depending on where the sun is in the sky, the exposure is going to change as you point the camera in different directions. You’ve got to have consistency of exposures for panoramas so that when you stitch them together you won’t end up with some lighter or same darker images. Watch your exposure meter and use Aperture Priority so that the exposure remains the same – in Aperture priority mode YOU set the Aperture and the ISO while the camera sets the shutter speed in order to maintain a consistent exposure in differing lighting / metering situations.

Overlap

You’re going to want to make certain to shoot photos with overlap. This will allow your computer to see where it needs to stitch the photos, and it can help with barrel distortion in the lens, which is when the photo stretches off in the corners on a really wide angle lens. A good rule of thumb is to overlap each image by about 30%.

Use the Right Lens

Try using a lens with a longer focal length for this one. Maybe something in the neighborhood of a 35-85mm. This should make for more realistic-looking images, compared to the look and feel of more wide angle shots.

Post Process

The world of Panoramic Photography has gotten a lot easier recently with Lightroom features that allow for in-program panoramic stitching. In the old days you would have to use Photoshop (you still can) but now you can stitch your images within Lightroom. It’s as easy as selecting your RAW files, right-clicking on “Photo-Merge” and then choosing the Panoramic option. After Lightroom merges your RAW files you can then edit them as you see fit!

Panoramas can produce some really fun and amazing photos, providing a wider view than normal shots, and can be fun in the field as well as in post-production. So get out there and snag some wonderful panoramas using the above techniques to see what is possible! We’d love to see what you come up with.

Kenton Krueger

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, newspaper photographer and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.

1 reply
  1. Bob Panick
    Bob Panick says:

    A few comments.

    1 – You want to use Manual not Aperture priority. If you use A you will get different shutter speeds, which effectively gives you different EV for each shot, particularly if the sun is in the shot. By setting M with fixed ISO the EV for each shot is the same. I usually set the camera to A with fixed ISO, then rotate the camera and see what range of shutter speed works. You want to make sure you don’t blow out the highlights.
    2 – While LR can do stitching, I’ve run into cases where it couldn’t do it. I was forced to use PS to pull it off. PS does a much better job. I’ve not been impressed with LR’s HDR either.
    3 – If your steady and/or you have good image stabilization, you can do handheld pano, I’ve been doing it for years. Of course my camera has really good IBIS for stabilization.

    Reply

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