Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Panoramas Done Easy- Part 1

Good Late Afternoon Everybody,
First the good news - my first Webinar Wednesday, "5 Burning Questions...",[link] is shaping up to be a very cool program with "tons" of great info on lighting, camera settings, wedding inspiration, and more. I've spent about 8 hours getting it together so I'm stoked to see how you like it.

Webinars are like seminars - only I'm not physically in the same room with you - only my voice and presentation. You can even ask questions via the chat screen on the GoToWebinar app. I have to admit, this is a test run for bigger things down the road. I'll open things up at 1:45 P.M. EDT (5:45 GMT) so we can start on time. I tend to go over, time-wise, on these Webinars so you will get a little more "bang for the buck". Anyway, I hope to see you there. Remember, you can sign up - right up to the last minute - pretty cool.

Now the bad news..... I've been dealing with Camtasia issues and computer issues all day. And try as I might to post today's Technique Tuesday, it just wasn't meant to be. And to add more road blocks to the plan, I've been back to back with scheduled clients and studio appointments. It's just been one of those days. So, here's the plan. I've posted the text of what I am planning to cover in my post on panoramas. The video will post later - probably tomorrow - telling the rest of the story. So give the post a read and I'll give you and update on the video tomorrow. Sound OK? Good, here we go.

Panoramas Done Easy - I Can See For Miles
In today's tutorial I want to discuss panoramas. I really been having a great time experimenting with them in Photoshop CS4 these last couple of weeks. I found that the other versions of Photoshop aren't near as effective as the latest, greatest version.

When most people are photographing images for their panorama one of the key rules is to keep the camera perfectly level. Although that is the recommended way to create a pano I think it's okay to break the rules now and then. But, I'll save that for a future tutorial.

In this tutorial - let's head back to my visit to Glacier Peak at Yosemite National Park. From that wonderful vista I made several pano images simply by turning to my left and then scanning to my right keeping the center focus spot position on the horizon - no tripod, all hand held, You would think that might complicate the process for Photoshop CS4. The reality was that CS4 did a great job in the stitching process and the result was a wonderful panorama.

OK, that was my "down and dirty" method. If you want to make panoramas the correct way here are my 9 tips to obtaining great panoramas simply and easily:

Hit the "Read More..." link below for Video Tutorial and the rest of the story.

1. Place your camera on a tripod with a leveling head and be sure that the camera is perfectly level.

2. When making your sequence of shots be sure to overlap at least 20% of the preceding frame with the current frame.

3. Use a medium focal length lens when making your sequence of images. I have occassionally used a wide angle lens for some very cool and interesting panoramas.

4. Experiment around by using your camera in the vertical position when scanning the same panoramic landscape to get even a higher resolution.

5. When starting your series of images from the left, First make an exposure of your left hand. Finish your pano series with a shot or your right hand. Now it's easy to find the pano shots from the day's shoot.

6. Also, it's best that your camera is not in auto-exposure mode. Determine what your best exposure will be for your panorama then set the camera to manual mode with the correct f-stop and shutter speed. This assures consistent exposure for the entire pano.

7. It is also best not to change focus when shooting your panoramas - that means setting your camera to "manual" mode after establishing your main focus point.

8. I choose to import the images into Lightroom for the final image tweaking. Find the most representative image of your sequence and give it your best efforts. Now sync all the rest of the images in the sequence to that image.

9. Now you are ready to go. Select all the images you want to be part of your panorama, hit Photo -> Edit In -> Merge in panorama and let Photoshop CS4 take over. Photoshop will fire up and offer you many pano stitching choices. I just let CS4 handle the entire process automatically and I've been very pleased with the results. We'll have to explore the other panorama possibilities in a future post.

Want to see how it all comes together? Then just hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show. Next week I'll show you what happens when you break a rule or two.

P.S. In a previous post at DigitalProTalk, entitled, "A Very Wide View", one reader has a suggestion for some pano of stitching software that they thought were good choices too. Here are the links to those other software suggestions - PT Gui Pro $115 [link] and Panorama Factory $79 [link]. I haven't had a chance to try these yet so I'm only sharing the info and will have to take the commenter's word for their reliability.

Hey everybody, that's it for me today. Come by tomorrow for Webinar Wednesday, "5 Burning Questions...", [link] - You still have time to register! See you then, -- David


  1. http://nicholasviltrakis.blogspot.com/2009/06/062809-cox-arboretum-panorama.html

    Check that pano out!
    Made with PTGui!

  2. I love Pano's! I have a couple in my portfolio over at my site. And this makes me want to complete some unfinished ones that I have neglected...

    Thanks for all the inspiration and good luck with the webinar.

  3. Awesome tutorial. Now you got me all excited.. I think i'm gonna have to try my luck with your technique this weekend. I cant wait.

    Thanks again David,

  4. Great pano of Yosemite David. It makes me want to get back there sooner. I've also had better results with making panos with Panorama Factory rather than Photoshop.

  5. How would you do the"syncing" of the photo's in CS4? I do not have LR.