I absolutely love Panoramic Photographs. When done right they are breathtaking. But as I know first hand sometimes these amazing photographs become such a challenge that they almost don’t come into being.
With the help of programs like Photoshop’s Photomerge, Hugin, and of course PTGUI, things have gotten a lot more easy and mathematical. Since I got my new full-frame and lacking a wide angle at this moment on it, I have been stitching together shots taken with my 50mm f1.8 to give the same angle of view or more as my Sigma 10-20mm on the D3000. With that I though I would just give a quick overview on my process:
** The City from a Parking garage downtown
As always I start by importing my raws into lightroom. Here I do my conversion which usually is just a white balance adjustment if I did not do it in the field (on pano’s I usually do it in the field to make sure they are the same, makes blending a whole lot easier). Also with that, when you are in the field shooting, using manual focus or focus lock helps out a ton as well (Not easy stitching different focused shots together).
This is where two routes can be taken: If doing an HDR pano, I usually export now into Photomatix, do all my HDR’s and then import them into Photoshop. If I am just doing a single shot HDR (only took one exposure) I merge the photos in photoshop then export them into Photomatix then back into Photoshop for final tweaking. Lastly, if I am doing just a straight-up panorama I just export from Lightroom into Photoshop and merge.
Lots of options!! There is no right or wrong way to do it, these are just mine that I find easiest.
As far as stitching goes, I have used PTGui and Hugin, but I now stick mainly to Photoshop. It does what I need to quickly and usually very well. This is where things can get interesting, after opening Photomerge from the Automate menu, you can select your files. Now there are many choices of how to stitch: Auto, reposition, spherical, etc. This is where some experience helps, I can usually make an educated guess and stay away from auto which sometimes I find skews the shots too much. If your just beginning auto is a great way to go, but make sure you feel the picture is too your liking and not too crazily stretched.
Sometimes you might get frustrated by any of the choices, and this is where I go to whatever I think is the worse evil and do some transformations to make it look “normal” again. Always make sure blending is checked to make sure the shot comes out seemless.
** A 12 shot merged HDR taken from Lower Wacker
This is where the advantage is, an image like above of the Wrigley Building can easily be done in one shot, but by stitching the 12 together I end up with a 100+ MP shot that is originally 36 inches tall, but can easily be resized larger with out pixel loss.
I hope this helps some and just remember it is a lot of play to get a feel of what you want.
Happy Holidays everyone, enjoy this weekend!!