Solo Build It! Case Studies

Creating Your First Panoramic Photograph

by Amy Renfrey
(Australia)

Panorama Photo Sample See pieces by clicking images below

Panorama Photo Sample See pieces by clicking images below

Panorama Photo Sample See pieces by clicking images below
First Panorama Piece
Second Panorama Piece
Third Panorama Piece

Panorama photography is one of the most enjoyable activities you can do, especially if you love landscape photography. You can create thousands of stunning photos for your home or workplace. It's not only a great way to study and learn about photography, but a great way to master your landscape photography abilities as well.


Let's begin with why panoramas were created. Photography supply companies knew that many people loved landscape photography, but they were unable to capture the landscape in a 180 degree view. They created a process called "stitching". Stitching is a term used to describe taking a series of photos side by side and merging them together to create one long photo.

For panorama photography you don't need anything too costly when it comes to special camera equipment. Just grab your camera, tripod and then get yourself some panoramic software.

My favorite software to stitch my panoramas is called "Panorama Maker Pro". At the present time they have version 6 available. You can even try it for a brief period of time to decide whether or not it is right for you.

I have created a lot of panoramas with this particular software. You can plainly see how it superbly elongates a scene once you have created one single photo from your series of landscape shots.

The larger the files the longer it takes to stitch into one photo.

I recommend shooting in Raw for this exercise. The final panorama will be a jpeg, which is not ideal due to its lossy nature, but you will still have your high quality raw files.

How To Begin


Let's begin with photographing a landscape image.

Choose the scene you want to shoot. Make sure your scene has good lighting. Ideally, aim for the same light across your photo, it will make it easier to stitch.

Set your digital camera up on a tripod. Keep the camera securely fastened and move it horizontally from one part of the scene to another.

It's imperative that you keep the camera moving horizontally. If your tripod accidentally moves downwards as you are taking a photo you may risk having your photo blurry and the software will be unable to stitch correctly.

Don't photograph into the sun. Have the sun at the back of you. You may run the risk of blowing out your image with too much overexposure. If your photo is too over or underexposed, then you will lose detail.

If there is no detail the program will be unable to find precise points to stitch together.

The best light is found at the end of the day, or the start of the day such as sunrise or sunsets. The light is soft and warm. It is so much gentler at the start and end of the day. The colours are richer too.

Producing Panoramic Photos


Choose the manual setting and choose the same settings for every photo you take. You've decided that you want a certain part of the scene to be well exposed and these settings will do it.

Once you have chosen your settings, now take a succession of photos, one after the other.

Move the camera from left to right, for example. Make certain you leave a section of each photo as overlap. Your photos need to have an area of overlap so they can be stitched together successfully.

What Kinds of subjects can you make a panorama from?

Landscapes with nothing but sky and mountains are good subjects to begin with. If your light is right and there are points of overlap then the software shouldn't have any concern stitching your scene together.

Moving subjects are a little more difficult. If you are taking a
photo of a moving subject at 1/125th of a second, like running water for example, then you may not have a quick enough shutter speed for the motion of the digital camera and the water. In one photo the water will be at the top of the rock and the next photo the water will be half way along the rock.

When the software tries to stitch two irregularities together it will not be able to form a complete picture. You must always keep the scene without blur. There will be no difficulties and the two photos will merge together nicely.

However, on saying that, if you have loads of light and a very fast shutter speed you must move the camera faster than the water is moving. In other words, you need to move super fast to make sure you position your camera in a way that the stitching will match up.

If the water is moving at 1/250th of a second, then you need to move at 1/500th of a second. You need to move the camera from left to right, faster than the water.

However for now, begin with a single picture without movement of any kind. Keep your mind on a stationary subject. It’s simpler in the beginning that way. Once you have mastered the basics, then you can try moving subjects.

What Other Scenes Make Terrific Panoramas?


Mountain ranges are not the only places that look great as panoramas. Once you have mastered the shutter speed and speed of movement for taking a series of shots, why not try a waterfall.

Once you have mastered this method of panorama taking, you can work to create panoramas in any direction. You can create a series of horizontal and vertical shots to create a square panorama.

I took a sequence of photos at just a couple of hours drive out of Sydney, Australia. Katoomba National Park in New South Wales is one of the most beautiful areas in New South Wales.

I did what was referred to as a "tile." The photograph comprised of 6 vertical photos; 3 bottom ones and 3 top ones.

I was careful not to overlap any areas of the water because I was unable to shift the digital camera quickly and have a fast shutter speed. This was due to the sunlight falling behind the mountain.

I used a very high ISO to compensate for the light reduction. I knew it would be okay to do this because my digital camera wouldn't overexpose anything in shadowy light like this. I was blessed, the shot turned out fine.

Creating Your Panorama as a Final Photo - Placing your panorama together.


Once you have photographed a series of shots upload the photos to your computer. Open up the Panorama software. Then, once you are in, highlight the photos you want to work on.

If your panorama works properly, you should see a huge scene as the final image. It is brilliant to see. For the very first time you are looking at a photo in the same way you saw it with your own eyes.

It’s a beautiful thing to experience. :)

Making panoramas is a wonderful way to capture the beauty of a landscape. Once you become familiar with the process start taking beautiful photos of trees, water, and oceans (remember your light and shutter) and even walking tracks. You can produce a panorama out of just about anything.

It's so much fun to do!

Amy Renfrey author Digital Photography SuccessAmy is a professional photographer who teaches enthusiasts how to take stunning photos quickly and easily.

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