There are a lot of resources out there on how to shoot panoramic images. Bunches. And I’m not going to try and match them in either content or depth. Instead – I just want to share some panoramic techniques that I use when I’m traveling light and fast – no tripod or ball head bracket in the bag. Of course, I think Panosaurus and Nodal Ninja are cool – but I don’t have either – nor do I typically travel with a tripod.
So, what’s a photog to do when you just want to get the shot – but it’s simply just too big? Keep shooting.
A few tips:
- Shoot your camera vertically – this will help you capture more information – making it easier for you to crop later.
- Shoot with a wide lens if possible. I like my 24mm – but I’ve shot ‘em with a 70-200mm. The best lens is the lens in your hands.
- I keep AWB on – but I try to remember to set the camera to manual – and expose for the “middle” of the scene – not the brightest or darkest part of the image. If you forget and shoot the whole scene in aperture priority – not all is lost – but it may take a bit more futzing on the back end to create a natural looking image. If your depth of field is changing from image to image – that could be a bit more difficult.
- Overlap your images by 30-50%. Hey – you’re shooting digital – it’s OK to toss a few out. Some folks suggest twisting from the hip if you’re shooting handheld. Probably good advice. Honestly, I have no idea where I twist – I’m probably doing it all wrong.
- Adobe’s Photomerge – it used to only be in the top end Photoshop packages – but for those who don’t use CSx – it’s been in the Elements package since 6 (and in case you’re curious, I use Elements 6 for panoramas). I tend to use “Reposition Only” – as this typically gives more image to adjust and crop later.
And then it’s just tweak and publish!
This image was with a 24mm lens in Joshua Tree National Park – and I have no idea how many images were used in the pic.
And sometimes when taking these images handheld – you’re going to make mistakes. This image was taken at our campsite at the base of Mt. Thielsen last August. If I crop this image to eliminate the uneven edges – I’d take about 500 ft off the mountain. Is my intent here to sell the image? No. I just want to remember a stunning camp site. Counting the jagged edges – there’s probably 10 or so images assembled here.
And the following image from The Svens in concert is a three shot panorama – hand held with a 50mm lens .
Bottom line – keep shooting. Even 5 years ago it wasn’t this easy to be this sloppy and still have the possibility of getting a good image off the conveyer belt. Maybe this post should be re-titled “Confessions of a Lazy Photographer”.
On the other hand – if you have a “flat” shot – one with no pop but you know it has potential– and you just really want to use it somewhere – here’s a technique to make it look like a panorama.