9 Sure-Fire Tips to Create Stunning Panorama Photographs

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Creating panorama photographs is not as difficult as you might think. Imagine a tea plantation/prairie/garden which runs several meters. You want to capture that mesmerizing scenery in front of you.

One possibility is to use an ultra-wide angle lens to capture the whole scene at once or use multiple shots to create a panorama.

What would be your choice?

It usually depends on the situation. Consider this panoramic photograph that I took in Munnar using Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens. 

Best Nature Photos. Amazing sunrise at The wind munnar resort in Munnar, Kerala, India. Landscape PHotography. Nature, Wildlife, Bird, and Landscape Photography by Prathap.

This is a panorama created using 3 photographs. The nearest tree (in the lower right corner) was several meters away from where I was standing. Had I been using the ultra-wide angle lens I would have got a photo that covers way too much in the foreground and the background which I would have to later crop out in the post processing stage.

While it is not a bad idea to go with ultra-crop photograph, it is not a great idea either! I would have to throw lot of data and the remaining data wouldn’t be sufficient if I plan to print it big.

Another advantage of creating panoramic photographs is that you would have so much data that you could probably blow it up to life size!

Here are 9 most important tips while creating panorama photographs.

1. Use Solid Tripod

This is the most important of all. If you don’t have solid tripod, then you don’t have panorama. Having a sturdy tripod that doesn’t wobble while the wind blows or the shutter opens is very important to creating panorama as you have to take consecutive shots which are identical in many aspects.

Leveling ball head is also a must.  While you rotate your camera from one point to the other, you have to have your horizon absolutely straight. Otherwise, you might face problems in stitching.

2. Shoot in Raw

Shoot in RAW mode so that you could set the same white balance for all the images in the post. Any change in white balance would ruin your entire series.

Since the overall scene would have greater dynamic range than the individual shots, it is always a good idea to shoot in RAW mode. You would be able to capture all the details in the bright and the shadow regions.

See 5 Reasons to Choose RAW over JPEG format.

3. Meter the Entire Scene

Metering the entire scene is quite important to get the right exposure across the scene. Best way to find out the right exposure is to find out the dynamic range of the entire scene and set the exposure accordingly.

Metering only for one shot might go wrong and result in overexposed or underexposed regions in the overall image.

Learn How to Achieve Optimum Exposure for Different Scenes.

4. Use Manual Mode

Exposure might change as you take consecutive shots ruining the whole photograph. You must make sure that Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO settings do not change.

Read 8 Easy Steps to Learn Manual Mode for Canon DSLRs or 8 Easy Steps to Learn Manual Mode for Nikon DSLRs.

5. Use Manual Focus

Use hyper-focal distance (for achieving deep depth of field) to set the focus and switch to manual focus so that focusing does not change from shot to shot.

While focusing, use the center of the entire scene and set the focus.

Read How to Achieve Deep Depth-of-Field.

6. Use Normal or Telephoto Lenses

As discussed in the beginning, go with normal lenses like 50mm or with telephoto lenses from 70 to 300mm range.

It helps you to remove any distractions and also to get proper perspective between shots.

7. Use Plenty of Overlapping Areas

It is very important to have enough overlap between shots in order to get the perfect stitching in post-processing stage. Generally you need an overlap area of atleast 25% to 40% between the shots.

Lack of overlapping areas may lead to unusable photograph. Instead of skimping on the number of shots and ruining the entire panorama, it is wise to take more photographs with greater overlapping areas.

8. Stitch Photos in Software

Now that you have everything you need to create a panorama, you just have to use the right software to stitch it.

But before stitching, you have to get the correct white balance for all the photographs.  You could use the RAW converters like Nikon ViewNX2/Canon DPP to set the same white balance value to all the photographs before processing it in other softwares like Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop.

Once you have set the right white balance to all the photographs, you just have to stitch them in Adobe Photoshop using Automate -> Photomerge option or any other software that supports stitching images to create panorama.

I will write about post processing panorama photographs in Adobe Photoshop in the next article.

9. Go for Vertical Shots

Try taking series of vertical shots to make panorama. This would yield you more creative choice in post processing, because you have loads of data to work with. You could come up with more compositions than if it was created using horizontal shots.

This panoramic photograph is made with 5 vertical photographs.

Best Nature Photos. Amazing sunrise at The wind munnar resort in Munnar, Kerala, India. Landscape PHotography. Nature, Wildlife, Bird, and Landscape Photography by Prathap.

If you are using telephoto lenses, you would generally have to go with vertical shots to create panorama, due to tight framing.

Conclusion

Creating panorama photographs is very challenging right from the setup till the processing, but it is all well worth it. These photographs let the viewer feel the sense of grandeur in Nature.

So, are you all set to make some great panorama photographs?

Did I miss anything important? Do let me know in your comments.

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8 Responses to 9 Sure-Fire Tips to Create Stunning Panorama Photographs

  1. Ravindra Kathale April 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    Dear Prathap,
    Thanks for a very informative article. the accompanying photographs are also very good.
    My question is, our cameras offer the panorama shooting mode where many of the stages you described above need not be followed, especially the stitching part, which I am told is quite tedious.
    So, what is the special advantage of using the method suggested by you?
    Thanks.
    Sincerely yours,
    — Ravindra Kathale

    • Prathap April 18, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

      Dear Ravindra,Thank you. If you have the panorama mode, then nothing like it! I don’t think there is need to take the pain to go through this process. However, except for the stitching part, other steps might be useful to follow to get the perfect alignment and the exposure. It becomes critical to get everything right when the scene is changing swiftly because you may not have second chance.

  2. Gerrie Malan April 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    Thanks Prathap, Valuable I believe. I have not tried my hand at panorama much, but I remember times when it would have given me a better endresult.

    • Prathap April 18, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

      My pleasure! Gerrie Malan. Maybe, you could try now on.

  3. sudhakaran April 18, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    Dear Pratap Thank you for the useful article.Why we have to correct white balance, Shall we not select correct White balance (say Day light in Canon EOS) prior to shooting in RAW(Step -8). If pictures were taken in AWB mode, whether we have to change WB to Day light(if photo taken on Sunny day) of individual photos?

    • Prathap April 18, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

      My pleasure Sudhakaran. Thanks for the wonderful question. I should have mentioned it in the article. You could definitely set the correct white balance in the field itself.
      If you are used to setting the white balance all the times, then it is a good idea to set the white balance while taking panorama photographs.

  4. sudhakaran k k April 23, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Thanks for the reply Pratap.
    I would like to get your guidance on correcting white balance of all photos taken for panorama at one stretch, if photos taken on AWB mode

    • Prathap April 25, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

      Sure Sudhakaran. My next article is about post processing panorama photographs which covers correcting the white balance too.

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