Tips for Shooting Panoramas

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Creating panoramas is fun and easy with digital technology, but you do need to follow a few simple rules to get the best results. Some digital point and shoot cameras have a panorama shooting mode. This is great as it shows you how the images overlap. However SLR camera users have to ‘eyeball’ the overlap.

  1. To start use a tripod. This keeps the camera steady, level, improves technique and will give you better quality.
  2. Use a fixed focal length the entire time. Don’t zoom in and out, keep it fixed. A fixed lens is best but not everyone has one, so be careful with zoom and keep it fixed.
  3. Overlap your images about 50%.
  4. Shoot vertically, not horizontally. I know this sounds odd, but you need to give yourself a lot of space around the top and bottom of the main subject. When you merge the images into a panorama using software such as Photoshop, the merged image will curve some. So you need to give plenty of space on the top and bottom so the final image will include the entire subject.

    panorama raw
    Merged image before cropping
  5. Camera settings need to be consistent between shots.
  • So set a white balance, don’t use auto white balance as it might change between images.
  • Shoot in manual mode to prevent the exposure settings from changing. Even if you shoot in aperture priority the exposure might change as you move across your scene.
  • You can make white balance and exposure adjustments in the computer after the fact, but it’s much easier and saves you time to get it right in the camera.

Next time I’ll show how to composite the panorama in Photoshop CS 6 and PSE 12.

Happy Thanksgiving!