View Full Version : Panorama Technique

09-09-2007, 01:59 AM
Greetings and Hello to everyone!

This is my first post here in this gigantic source of info that would undoubtedly quench my thirst of knowledge regarding DSLRs and Photography in general.

I am planning to take a panorama shot of a new stadium that is still being constructed (about 99% complete). I am thinking of 180 to 360 degrees panorama shot! But I'd be satisfied with just a 3-pictures wide panorama (around 120 degrees angle of view).

I have tried to make a panorama before, manually. I think the very basic idea of attaching images together is understandable. But in practice its not that easy. My first major problem is that I cant keep my tripod at the same "sea-level?" on all photos. When I try to move it, I cant guarantee a 100% accurate tilting. Either up-side-down or left-right angles. I was thinking the problem is with my tripod, but I'm not sure.

So, what do you think guys. Any tricks/tools you can recommend for my first real panorama shot exercise? :)

All comments are greatly appreciated!

09-09-2007, 06:12 AM
It is not hard at all, and you do not have to use a tripod either.

Make sure you set an exposure in manual mode, that you use a lens/aperture with minimal light fall off towards the corners, and do not use any kind of filter. Keep the same manual exposure settings for the whole set of photos, and do not use auto white balance.

I shoot 360 degree panoramas out of hand, standing straight, just rotating with a few steps on the spot. Determine what is the horizon on eye level, and just keep that height steady. If you use a tripod, be sure that you can set it it totally staight, else you will have a problem.

Another thing I do, I use a wide angle lens, and most of the time shoot in portrait format to also capture a bigger height. I place what is in the middle in one shot towards the edge in the next shot, so distortions of the lens wll be kept to a minimum in the end result.

09-09-2007, 11:50 PM
Hello Cold Rain!

Thanks for your help. So, having a manual setting is important so the photos would look the same in terms of exposure and colors..etc this is brilliant. Is there any manual setting you could teach me that would work great for such pictures. I own a D70s with its kit lense (18-70mm) and I'll be using a wide angle. I'm located in a sunny envoirnment but I'll try to wait for the perfect semi-cloudy day to take my photos. Also, I'm not sure if I should take the photos just after sun rise or before sun set? does it matter?

So, I'm wondering if there's a standard manual setting for that (aperture, ISO..etc)?

I guess if a tripod is not very important then I'd love to set my camera on a solid thing like a book or a box and rotate it?

I also have a 50mm lens would this lens work for such a picture?

09-10-2007, 04:47 AM
Although the question was intended for coldrain I think I can answear this one as well. There is no universal setting that you would be able to use any time of the day in any weather when shooting panorama. You always have to find the right setting and then keep it while shooting all parts of the pano. If you can't find the right setting (it is not hard though) you can always set the camera to auto mode, have a look at the setting the camera used and then set the same or slightly modified setting in manual mode.
And, yes, it matters, whether you are shooting at dawn, dusk or middday. The lighting changes throughout the day so you have to change your settings as well... :)
Placing the camera on book or something like this is IMHO completely unnecessary. I've taken loads of panos just hand-held and some using tripod. My conclusion is: If you take your hand-held pano right, you don't have to bother with tripod. So it is completely unnecessary to place your camera on something solid. I've never actually tried something like book but I'd say that it would only complicate matters.
And finally, I think you can use your 50mm lens, although if it were wider it would be better...
Hope it helps...

09-10-2007, 11:14 PM
Thanks Pave :)

So, I'm guessing having a complete "perfect" horizontal height is not very important? that would make it easier I guess.

The most important thing is to shoot in manual mode so I would keep the same exposure for the same pictures and disable white balance.

I'll give it a shot :)

09-11-2007, 02:53 AM
Well, having perfect horizontal height, as you call it, is useful, but in my opinion it is as hard to achieve using a tripod as it is when shooting hand-held.
And using the same setting really is importatant, particularly when there is sea or something like that in the shot. This holiday I kept forgetting to remove my polarizer filter when shooting panos and then I had to spend hours in front of my computer just fine-tuning hues. Quite annoying activity... :cool:

10-09-2007, 08:43 PM
What software would you recommend for pano shots?

10-09-2007, 11:29 PM
CS2 does pano's.
I have also successfully used Panorama Factory in the past.

10-18-2007, 12:47 AM
Try Autostitch:

It was developed at a university and then commercialised, but the basic version is free for personal use, so there's nothing to lose.

It can stitch photos horizontally and vertically, so you can take two 'layers' of pictures if you want.

Just remember to change a few options: output size to 100% and JPEG quality to 95+.

Another tip is to consider shooting in portrait orientation, with the camera held sideways. I think that for a stadium you probably want landscape instead so that you don't get too much grass and sky, but often portrait is better.

11-12-2007, 12:30 AM
Alright, I've been waiting for November here to shoot the stadium. The Stadium is still under-construction. So, I was waiting till November for three main reasons, 1. The Stadium to be nearly completed but still without crowds, 2. Grass would have grown green, 3. The sky in Kuwait in November till February has better contrast because the rest of the year its almost always cloudless.

Now, hopefully in few days I would get my perfect sky and go and take the shot. I will try my wide 18-70 lens and my 50mm lens.

I just think I would have a few problems at the setting and I dont think I can afford that since this opportunity is so limited.

1. Where do I set my focus point? should I focus at a certain length?
2. What I understand from your advices that (I do not use white-blanace, and use the same settings) this means, I cant even post process my photos because if I do, everything would change. But most of my photos that I take(raw or jpg) really really need heavy PP to look acceptable. Can't I PP the Raw files all-together using the same steps, which would end with universal look for the 3+ shots that I took? (does this make any sense?)

I'm just going to get one pass to take the photo, so I hope I won't screw this up like I did with my soccer-match shots. :o

11-12-2007, 04:29 AM
Set an aperture between f8 anf f14 or so, and just let the camera do the focusing.
Keep the camera level, middle of the view finder on something in the distance that is on eye level, and keep that that way during all your photos while you turn a few steps per photo. I usually let what is in the middle of the photo go to half or 2/3rds of the side of the screen I am turning away from, to have a good overlap without too much distortion problems.

Again, just make sure you have the camera on M(manual), and set the exposure not for the brighest part (side of the sun) of the panorama, not for the darkest part, but in between.
Do not use auto white balance, but a fixed WB, like the daylight WB setting of your camera.

And that is it.

When you shoot RAW, you of course can set the RAW development parameters the way you want to, the same for every photo. You can post process the stitched panorama.

Your 18-70 (a Nikon, right?) has quite heavy barrel distortion. I would make two panorama series, one at 18mm (camera on the side, so the height of the panorama is better), and one at about 24mm, for when the barrel distortion is too much at 18mm in stitching.

And why not try out all this before you go to the stadium?, try a panorama of your street, a shopping mall, a sea view or some sand cape?

11-13-2007, 01:36 AM
Thanks Coldrain, that sums it up I guess. But I just dont know how to PP RAW files in a bulk(to get the same PP effects). I'll dig in PS tutorials and check.

And why not try out all this before you go to the stadium?, try a panorama of your street, a shopping mall, a sea view or some sand cape?

I guess I definitely need to do that one or twice before I go to the stadium :D