Shooting panoramas is a fairly simple photogrpahy technique. They can be made from 2 images, or as in this case here from 100 images. Usually panoramas are horizontal in composition, but they can be also vertical. Panoramas can also consist of many rows of images or many columns.
When shooting panoramas there are many factors you need to consider, all equally important.
First, the composition.
What are we shooting?
Where will the composition start and end?
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For a panorama of this nature, a sturdy base is essential, an absolute must. So invest in a good solid tripod. Both vertical and horizontal rotation was used to create images. So ideally you will have a gimbal head on your tripod to insure accurate central rotation in the centre of the nodal point for stitching the images later together and avoiding hard to correct errors.
For the exposure, as with most of my photography, my technique is simple. Spot meter and find the brightest and darkest point for the scene. This gives us the dynamic range. From here we can calibrate for an exposure, and determine if bracketing is needed. As I wanted to render detail in as many of the windows in the view.
White balance is incredibly important when shooting images that need to be stitched together. It is advised that you select a manual white balance for all shots for consistency of colour temperature. I used “cloudy” for all the exposures.
The reason we must use manual settings for exposure and white balance is needed to create one giant exposure, and in order for it to look natural when completed and stitched every aspect of the exposures must be 100% consistent. If choosing just “auto” expose for each section and auto white balance for each section, then these separate images will have different colour and incandescent values, which will result in a very patchy panoramic image once stitched together.
Now that we have set our exposure and white balance, we must shoot the image. We must be careful as we rotate the camera to ensure overlap of each individual image, the more overlap the better. I usually aim to have about a third to half overlap on each image. This ensures accurate stitching later.
Back at the computer we first we need to create a folder for all our images and import that into Lightroom. We apply lens corrections to one image, and reduce the default sharpening to zero, we then select all images and sync only these adjustments across all images. These files were then all selected and opened in Photoshop for panorama in auto mode with ‘correct geometric distortion’ selected. (I used Photoshop instead of Lightrooms photo-merge tool as it is more powerful when using this many files)
Depending on the capacity of your computer, this can take a long time; so put the kettle on.
Once Photoshop has aligned and joined all the images you should have the beginnings of a panoramic image. This image was flattened and returned to Lightroom for contrast, exposure adjustments and white balancing to create a natural looking image, then opened up again in PSCS5 where layers and masks were used with individually brighter exposures to ensure details in windows in the nearer buildings, as well as other shadow detail retention, also some of the darker exposures were needed for some highlight detail retention, using a similar method. Color FX Pro 4 plug in was used for some contrast adjustments, as well as colour balance using Viveza 2, then the image was cropped.
The end result is an image that can print well over 20 meters wide, which is all well and good, but how do you showcase your work? How do you let customers and clients see these images without having to make several huge prints to show? The days of the physical portfolio are pretty much over. How do you show clients the potential scale of an image while the whole world is in a frenzy with Instagram?
Prodibi is a new site and service that hosts large image files, as well as offering large scale data transfer facilities to it’s users. They offer photographers the chance to finally showcase4 their images in a zoomable format. While camera resolution increases, pixels are wasted on Instagram that can only offer the user a 2.07 million pixel image to look at on a portable device. Prodibi allow the user to zoom into the image full size and experience the detail they would should the image be printed and hung full size on a wall thus giving the photographer the opportunity to fully demonstrate the quality of their work.
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