40 Make Panoramas
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A panoramic shot is made up of a number of photographs that, when combined using specialized software, take in a wider or taller view than you could with a single normal-sized shot The sequence of photographs is pieced back together into one larger picture using a software technique called stitching In motion pictures, panning means moving the camera in a continuous motion from side to side or up and down to give the viewer a broader view of the scene You are doing essentially the same thing with a sequence of stills when you take a panoramic shot
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Why Do I Need Panoramic Shots
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The process of panoramic shooting allows you to broaden your photographic horizons, literally You can capture the expansiveness of the central plains, a magnificent city skyline, a complete shot of the world s tallest tree, or that endless stretch of shoreline It is even possible to capture a 360-degree view Figure 7-1 shows the difference between a regular shot and a panoramic shot When you look through your viewfinder, you ll notice that your view of the scene is limited only to what your lens can see This is often disconcerting, because your eyes peripheral vision is always much broader than the camera s Of course, you can always pull back as far as the next county, but that shot won t show much detail What do you do when you want to be closer and still get the whole vista in the picture Creating a panoramic shot is the answer
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How Do I Set Up and Take a Panoramic Shot
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To shoot a panoramic sequence, you will need to overlap your shots, maintain a consistent focus distance from the subject in all your shots, keep the camera level, maintain a constant exposure from shot to shot, and transfer the images to a computer for merging into a panorama
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CHAPTER 7: Things You Don t Do with Your Film Camera
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The view with a normally framed shot (top) and the same view shot as a panorama (bottom)
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Overlap Your Shots Shoot a number of pictures whose frames overlap by at least 30 percent that is, the last 30 percent of the shot you just took should be the first 30 percent of the next shot, and so on Try to find visual reference points before you shoot to guide you in overlapping the next shot This will also give you cues to help you piece together the shot later when you re using image-editing software Although the number of pictures you take is not fixed, some software applications have memory limitations regarding panorama merging, so don t take more shots than you need to cover your subject with the proper overlap Some cameras have a panoramic mode, which will show you overlap guides on the LCD Maintain a Consistent Focal Distance It s important that you keep the camera the same focal distance from your subject so that the perspective and proportions remain constant from shot to shot Do not use the zoom lens or change the camera s position or center of rotation until the sequence of shots is complete Be aware of moving subjects, especially when they are in the overlap area If the subject is in the overlapping part of one frame and not the adjacent frame, it will confuse the stitching software
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Digital Photography: 99 Easy Tips to Make You Look Like a Pro!
Keep It Level Keep the camera on a level track as you move through the sequence to make it easier to fit the pictures together with a minimum amount of distortion The easiest way to do this is to use a tripod with a rotating head Some come with degree markings that let you be precise In the absence of a tripod, try to find a visual cue to guide you through the sequence, such as a horizon line In fact, if you don t have a tripod, you re probably not going to get an acceptable stitch because very little affordable stitching software is good enough to second-guess the lack of consistency in camera position and rotational axis The most seamless panoramas are those shot by mounting the camera on a special tripod rig that rotates the camera about its absolute optical axis, which is usually somewhat in front of the camera s tripod thread in fact, about halfway between the front element of the lens and the image sensor (digital film ) It also helps to have a system for rotating the camera when it s set in a vertical orientation and a way of moving it in exact degrees of rotation Several manufacturers make affordable versions of such rigs for a variety of digital cameras The best known of these manufacturers is Kaidan Maintain a Constant Exposure If you are using a camera with automatic exposure, it will read and adjust the exposure with every shot In a panoramic shot, you want to maintain a constant exposure to eliminate mismatches in color and brightness from one frame to another You should use manual mode and lock in the exposure for all the shots in the sequence (See Tip 14 in 3 for more information on manual mode) Select Panoramic Mode If your camera has it, use panoramic mode This mode allows you take a sequence of shots with a fixed exposure and often provides guides to help you overlap the shots correctly Transfer the Files to a Computer You can use any number of software programs designed to combine your sequence of images into a single panorama (See 8 for more information on moving images to your computer) Adobe Photoshop Elements comes with a built-in stitching program call Photomerge, and it is amazingly easy to use Following are the basic steps involved in using Photomerge to produce a panorama: