Photography tips; Shooting panoramas, a photography skills series
Everybody loves a wide, sweeping panorama, which takes the breath away, it’s the reason visitors often hold a smartphone or point and click camera shuffling on an axis, hoping to catch an amazing vista in the simplest manner possible.
Camera technology has jumped forward in huge leaps and bounds, even a basic phone is now capable of making a decent job of stitching a series of images together within seconds of taking them. The apps and post capture editing software available today even for a relatively modestly priced smartphone is extremely powerful allowing extensive processing of any pictures taken.
A panoramic view can also be obtained by taking the photo using an extreme wide-angle lens and then cropping the top and bottom from the image.
To take a truly expansive panorama however, a camera with manual settings and a tripod is needed, providing the stable axis from which the camera can be rotated to ensure a smooth transition between captures.
As it will take several images, possibly ten or more, the file size produced will be far larger than usual, even in Jpeg. This means they are ideal for printing and hanging in pride of place, above the fireplace in the lounge.
It’s not difficult, though it does require an understanding of the camera and a little time.
- Choose a medium focal length lens and orientate the camera in portrait rather than landscape.
- If the lens has an image stabilisation facility turn it off.
- Take a photo of your hand before and after the series of captures.
- Focus in your normal manner, either using auto or manual focus.
- Meter for the lightest part of the scene, usually the sky (if unsure how, just point the camera towards the sky).
- Use aperture priority mode for the first of the series taking note of the settings, aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
- Take the remaining images in manual mode using the same settings of the original, to ensure consistency throughout the series.
- It’s usually easier to sweep across the scene left to right, merely adjusting the tripod slightly to the right.
- Ensure each subsequent capture overlaps the preceding one to ensure a smooth stitching of the images.
- Take as many images as necessary to capture the full field of view required.
Once the required number of images has been captured, it’s just a case of stitching them together and editing them. There is specific proprietary software available for editing panoramas, but Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are perfectly adequate for this.
The world is a place of contrasts, which often looks better when displayed in all its panoramic glory, from expansive vistas of the Atacama Desert, impressive canyons in Oman which have ripped a huge scar in the crust of the planet or incredibly photogenic locations like Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoon in the south east of Iceland.
By all means if it’s only a quick share on social media that is needed, use the smartphone, however if the landscape is that spectacular, do it justice, panorama it!
PS Don’t forget to reset the camera settings, including the image stabilisation once finished.