Panoramas

by William Lulow

Panoramic shots can be fun to do but there are several things to keep in mind before you try them.

  • All original shots are better when the camera is on a tripod
  • Try to keep the camera level, panning only horizontally
  • Make sure the shots you take overlap somewhat
  • The fewer the shots, the better they stitch together (two are ideal)
  • Finished panoramas will, by nature, be much wider than they are high. The final image will be a long, narrow one.

The “stitch” program will combine several images and try to make a panorama. (It can be found under the FILE menu in Photoshop, then AUTOMATE, then PHOTOMERGE). If the original shots do not overlap information, the program cannot really fill in missing pixels easily. If the camera is not kept level, the program will have a harder time fitting pieces together. The camera should be panned (swung left-to-right) only slightly when making each exposure. It should not be tilted up or down. Also, make sure you understand that the final image will need to be cropped top and bottom and therefore might not fit into a standard size print.

Here is an image of Charlotte Amalie harbor in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. It consists of three images stitched together.

Charlotte_Amalie_Harbor_ St_Thomas_USVISometimes, a bit of retouching has to be done to smooth any rough areas. This can be done utilizing the Rubber Stamp tool. Just make sure that you start with small pixel sampling and build up slowly. In this shot, some sun glare was taken out of the left-hand frame of the boats. Also, the Healing Brush was used to put some tone back into the clouds.

Here is another example:

This image was made by combining the following two shots:

Overlapping of images is crucial to creating panoramas because Photoshop has to have a reference point common to both photographs. In this case I used the red and blue horse to the left in the top image and to the right in the bottom one.

Believe it or not, I actually hand-held these shots, but I don’t recommend that if you’re just beginning with this technique. It’s very difficult to keep the camera perfectly horizontal while you pan from one shot to the next. I’ve done quite a few of them, so it may be a bit easier as you get used to it. But, in the beginning, put your camera on a tripod and level it!

Here are a couple more:

This image was made with the camera on a tripod. Also, some of the trees had to be retouched in on the upper left of the photo due to the cropping.

Remember, your panoramic shots have to be intentional. You have to start out knowing that you will make a panoramic shot. Keep your left-and-right panning points consistent.