Panoramas are among the most fun and exciting shots you can take with your camera. However, they require a little more than just point and shoot. In this article, we are going to share with you some of our favorite panorama photography tips. These tips are very easy to understand and they will help you take better panoramic pictures.
What Is A Panorama?
Vaala, Finland – Sony ILCE-7SM2 – Focal Length 55mm – Aperture ƒ/2.8 – Shutter Speed 1/200s – ISO 100
A panorama is a single photograph that is “stitched” together (meaning overlaid) to make a very large image. This can be done by taking multiple photographs with your camera and then using special software to stitch them together into one large photograph.There are several advantages to stitching photographs together:
+ You can fit much more detail into a panorama than you could ever capture with a single photograph.
+ The photograph will appear seamless to the viewer.
The most common types of panoramas are horizontal and vertical. Horizontal panoramas are useful for landscapes, while verticals are great for street scenes, buildings and anything else that has height.
The Relationship Between Panoramic Pictures And Landscape
Jökulsárlón, Island – Hasselblad L1D-20c – Focal Length 10.3mm – Aperture ƒ/4.5 – Shutter Speed 1/200s – ISO 100
Many people think that panoramas are simply big pictures taken at a high angle. But that is only part of it. A truly great panorama is more than just a big picture – it is a complete experience. It is a complete visual journey. Great panoramas are not just eye-catching, they also tell a story. They transport you to another place and time. They allow you to virtually step onto the landscape and walk around as if you were really there. When you look at a panorama, your brain does not simply see a bunch of individual images, it also understands the “journey” that was required to create the final image.
Therefore, to create a really great panorama, you need to know more about landscape than just where to point your camera. You need to understand the relationship between the different parts of the picture… and how they relate to each other.
You need to understand how the horizon works in a panorama. Horizon lines are very important in a panorama because they draw the eye into the picture and make the viewer feel as though he is looking at the scene from a great height. This makes the viewer more likely to take in the entire scene.
Alviso, San Jose, United States – NIKON D750 – Focal Length 70mm – Aperture ƒ/8 – Shutter Speed 1/125s – ISO 200
+ Use A Tripod
Tripods are great for keeping your camera still, but they can also be a real boon when it comes to panoramas. Most of the time, when you take a panorama, your camera will be wiggling around like crazy trying to keep the image in focus. By using a tripod, you can take several shots and then stitch them together into one seamless panorama.
+ Panoramic Tripod Head
If you are going to do a lot of panoramic shooting, invest in a tripod with a panoramic head. These heads let you rotate the camera around a central point and create the illusion of a much larger image than the camera can capture. In fact, some of these heads will create an image as large as 180 degrees!
+ What Lens Should You Use?
If you want to learn how to take panoramic photos, it’s important to understand what kind of lens you should use. Most people assume they should use a wide angle lens, but that is not true.
Those who use a wide-angle lens will often say they can get much closer to their subject without having to worry about perspective distortion. But this is not true. What actually happens is that perspective distortion is much more severe when you use a wide-angle lens. If you are taking a panorama with a wide-angle lens, you will have to make your photo’s elements much larger in order to compensate for the perspective distortion. And this will make your photo much larger than necessary.
I find that focal lengths between 35mm and 85mm on full-frame cameras (approximately 24mm – 55mm on APS-C) typically work quite well for panoramas.
+ Use GND Filters
GND stands for “Graduated Neutral Density”. It is a filter that lets through all the colors of the visible spectrum except for green and, to a lesser degree, blue. What this means is that when you use it in conjunction with a white or light-colored subject, you will get much warmer, richer colors. This is a filter you should always carry with you when you are shooting panoramas or using any other type of wide-angle lens. It will make your images pop!
Camera Settings For Panoramic Photography
Worms, Germany – PENTAX K-50 – Focal Length 18mm – Aperture ƒ/7.1 – Shutter Speed 1/0.3s – ISO 100
+ Shoot RAW
RAW files give you much more latitude when it comes to post-processing your photos, allowing you to do things like add vignetting (underexposed areas of your photo appear darker), adjust white balance, or add artistic effects like starbursts or zeniths.
There are many benefits to shooting in RAW format, but one of the main ones is that it allows you to later combine multiple exposures into a single image with hardly any degradation in quality. This means you can later create much larger panoramas with hardly any quality loss whatsoever.
+ Manual Exposure
If you are going to do any type of panorama photography, it is worthwhile learning the technique of manual exposure. This will give you more control over the outcome and also makes it possible to create much wider images. The only drawback is that it does take a little bit of practice to get the hang of it. But once you do master this technique, you will find it pays off in spades.
+ Small Aperture To Help With Stitching
When shooting panoramas, a small aperture helps by creating a large depth of field, which means that everything in focus will be in focus. This is especially important when you are stitching the photos together because it will give a much more accurate result, you won’t have to worry about any of the edges being out of focus, and it will look seamless.
+ White Balance
White balance is one of the most important controls to get right when taking panoramic photos. It is especially important to check this when shooting at sunset or sunrise, or in other low-light situations. If you do not have a proper white balance, your photo will appear off-color. This is particularly true if you are using an automatic white balance setting on your camera.
Panorama Photography Tips
+ Horizontal Panorama
Hong Kong Island – Hasselblad L1D-20c – Focal Length 10.3mm – Aperture ƒ/4.0 – Shutter Speed 1/320s – ISO 100
This is the most common type of panorama. It is also the easiest to create, although it does have certain limitations. For one thing, you cannot include people in a horizontal panorama – they will just appear as a squashed-in blur.
Also, you cannot use any kind of fast shutter speed to freeze motion, because there will be a “trail” of the moving objects in the panorama as they cross the edges. Horizontal panoramas are great for landscapes and cityscapes though, because you can usually include a lot of foreground in the shot.
For horizontal panoramic photos, shoot with the camera positioned vertically as this will give you more wriggle-room for the photo merging software to work its magic.
It does mean that you’ll need to take more photos than with the camera positioned horizontally, but it’s totally worth the extra effort.
+ Shoot Vertical Panorama
“This photo was captured on an adventure across the beautiful Namibian landscape, in Africa. Endless rolling dunes shadowed shapes onto the sand as far as the eye could see. The only trace of life is left in the wake of footprints briefly following your lead, before being swept away by the wind. What a beautiful place” @Finding Dan
Panoramas are a great way to show off your scenery. However, most panorama photographers shoot horizontal panoramas.
That’s fine, but you should consider shooting vertical ones instead. Why? Horizontal panoramas can be deceivingly boring because of the flatness of the picture. People see a horizontal panorama and think, “Oh that looks nice, I would like to go there.” Whereas, with a vertical one, they will think, “Wow! Look at all that amazing scenery! I bet it must be really exciting to be up there. I wonder if there is any way I could get a ride up there?
+ Take Multiple Photos & Overlap Your Shots By At Least 30%
A panorama is simply a collection of multiple photos that have been “stitched” together to form one big image. The main benefit of doing this is to capture more of the scene, as well as to make it possible to include elements that would be impossible or difficult to fit into a single photo.
One of the most common questions new photographers ask me is, “How many photos should I take to make a good panorama?” My answer is: As many as you can get your hands on! The only real limitation is that the more photos you take, the longer it will take to stitch them all together. However, if you are using a high-quality tripod and you use a remote control or self-timer, the actual time required to take all the photos should be minimal.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, when you are taking your photos, try to overlap your adjacent shots by at least 30%. This will help the stitching process go more smoothly.
+ What Is The Right Aspect Ratio To Use?
Dolomites, Italy – NIKON D800 – Focal Length 56mm – Aperture ƒ/8.0 – Shutter Speed 1/0.4s – ISO 250
Use whatever aspect ratio feels right to you. Do you like your panoramas tall and narrow like a postcard? Or do you prefer them wide and short like a newspaper? Experiment with different ratios until you find one that pleases you and then don’t worry about it anymore.
+ Distractions And Scenes Not Worth Stitching
There are times when a panorama just won’t work – like when you are trying to capture a specific moment in time, or when you are photographing a moving subject.
In such cases, it might be better to let go of the idea of stitching and just shoot each individual section as a separate photo. That way, you will still get the benefits of a panorama (including the “wow factor”) without all the hassles of stitching.
+The Influence Of Wind
Wind is one of the biggest factors that can influence your panorama. It can make your image blurrier, or it can cause parts of your photo to come out of focus.
If it is coming from the side or behind your subject, it will tend to blow the finished product out of shape. Conversely, if the wind is coming from in front of your subject, it will flatten the picture.
When you’re taking a panorama, try to anticipate how the wind will behave and adjust your settings accordingly. Experiment with different shutter speeds to see how they affect the blurring caused by wind.
+ Panning Direction
If you want to get the maximum amount of view in your panoramas, you should pan in the same direction the camera is moving. Doing this will give you a more or less seamless transition from one shot to the next.
If you don’t do this, there will be a “jump” in your panorama where one image ends and the next begins. This can be jarring for some people and make the viewer uncomfortable.
+ Hold Steady
When shooting panoramas, it is important to keep the camera as still as possible. Even a slight movement will cause the resulting image to be blurred. Therefore, the first step is to make sure you have a sturdy tripod and you need to make sure you are not moving at all when you press the button.
Another way to combat shake is to use a remote release. This will allow you to take the photo without touching the camera, and thus avoiding any unwanted movement.
Trolltunga, Norway – NIKON D3200 – Focal Length 18mm – Aperture ƒ/3.5 – Shutter Speed 1/250s – ISO 200
A panorama is a single photograph that has been “stitched” together. There are many software programs available which will let you do this. The easiest one to use is probably the free Photosop. However, there is also an Adobe version called Lightroom, and it’s much more powerful.
There are plenty of tutorials on the web about how to do this, so I won’t belabor the point. Just Google “Adobe Lightroom Stitching” or “Photosop Stitching” to get an idea of what you will find.
Just make sure all your photos are of similar exposure and focus and then stitch them together. Also, it’s important that you don’t make any edits to the individual photos that make up the panoramic photo before they are merged. This can lead to visual inconsistencies in color and exposure. So, always wait until you’ve finished merging the photos together, and make your edits to the finished panoramic photo later.
Panoramic photography is becoming very popular these days. This type of photography allows you to take pictures of a large area and then combine them together to form one large picture. This type of photography is very useful because it lets you see the big picture.
I hope that after reading this article you will be inspired to take some amazing photos!