Panorama Photography tips

I have been working on taking multi-photo stitched panoramas lately and thought that I would list a few tips that I have personally come across that help with the process. This is timely as my last panorama has hit a few hitches because of me forgetting some of the basics! (Shame on me!)

  1. Determine what you want to capture – Visualise the panorama you want to have at the end to help you set up at the start!
  2. Shoot in portrait orientation – This reduces the amount of lens distortion between photos
  3. Overlap photos 25-50% – Automatic panoramic stitching software such as that in Photoshop require an overlap between photos to match and stitch. This is technically known as a Control Point. Whilst Photoshop is very much an automatic process, other panoramic software such as Hugin allow users to set Control Points manually to allow greater precision. Saying that, Photoshop has only let me down a few times and is a very painless process most of the time. Personally I believe 30% is a good overlap if there are distinct lines and features to align.
  4. Shoot in Manual mode EVERYTHING in manual.
    1. Focus – Set your focus in automatic/manual focusing then switch to manual so it is consistent between all the shots. (Unless you’re doing some advanced techniques like focus stacking)
    2. Manual mode – Determine your settings for aperture, shutter speed and ISO in whatever mode you want, but then switch your camera to manual and replicate the settings there. This ensures the settings are consistent for each photo)
    3. White Balance (WB) – Set your white balance. Don’t leave this on automatic as this could drastically change between your first and last frame. I had this issue last night in a night panorama as the lights on different buildings kept changing the automatic white balance. Luckily I shoot in Raw which leads to the next point…
  5. Shoot in RAW (optional) – Shooting in your camera’s RAW format will give you greater flexibility to tweak photos prior to stitching. In my instance I was able to accurately correct white balance across my photos prior to stitching. It also gives me the ability to tweak the exposure without image degradation.
  6. Use a Tripod (optional) – I would highly recommend using a level tripod for optimal stitching ability. It will help provide tack sharp photos with features that can be easily aligned. I personally have taken hand held photos for a panorama which have turned out great but they generally require high shutter speeds (to minimise camera shake) and not have interaction of foreground and background items as they won’t align due to parallax errors.
  7. Use a Remote release + Mirror Lock Up (optional) – For those using a tripod, I would also recommend going one step further and use a Remote Release and your camera’s Mirror Lock Up function to minimise and camera movement when you take the photo. Just another level of ensuring tack sharp photos, especially when taking long exposures.
  8. Using a Nodal Rail (optional) – This highly optional component allows you to rotate your camera about it’s No-Parallax-Point. The issue of parallax is best explained outside of this article but is most evident when you have objects in the foreground and the background and find them seemingly closer or further away from each other as your rotate to take the photos. A nodal rail is for hardcore panoramic photographers who enjoy including foreground features or those doing multi-row panoramas.

Comments

  • Thank you, I have been hunting for facts about this topic for ages and yours is the best I’ve found so far.

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