Sometimes the view is just too spectacular to capture in one single image. How many times have you been standing in front of a vista just knowing that your camera isn’t going to do it justice. This is where a multi-image panorama can help.
In the example here I will take 5 separate shots of Hinze Dam in Queensland covering a full 180 degree view and merge them into a single image.
There are several ways to do this and there are even downloadable programs that are specifically designed for merging multiple images into a panorama but I am going to explain the simplest method here just using the standard Adobe Photoshop software.
As for capturing your shots for the pano, a tripod is really recommended. A panoramic tripod head would be quite helpful in shooting high quality panoramas for two reasons. First, it is easy for users to set the camera position on nodal point, which is the intersection of horizontal axis and vertical axis. Second, a panoramic tripod head makes panorama processing easier and more systematic. However they are very expensive and any ball head on a tripod can be used to great affect as demonstrated with this panorama I shot with my normal tripod set up.
For landscapes in particular, make sure that the camera is at an even 180 degree angle to the horizon, not tilted up or down as this will lead to greater distortion in the final stitched image. When shooting your images to be stitched, make sure there is a little overlap between each image. Ideally, you should have at least 25% of each frame overlapping the previous frame.
Lock the camera's exposure and white balance for all shots. This will help to avoid substantial changes in lightness/darkness from frame to frame and be careful of objects that move such as clouds or trees moving in the wind.
Once you have your collection of images open in photoshop, go to File/Automate/Photomerge and select “add open files”. You will notice some options for the finished image which you can have fun experimenting with, but I usually opt for the “auto” layout option. Click OK and photoshop will merge your images. This will take some time especially if your working with higher resolution files.
various options available
Once you have your finished pano it will undoubtedly need some heavy cropping to remove the empty areas from the borders created by the image stitching. If you don’t wish to loose too much of your image via cropping you can leave a small amount of empty spaces in corners etc, provided that you feel that it will be easy to fill them with clone stamp from adjacent areas of the image. This works well for sky and grass or trees.
ready to be cropped
Once you have your final cropped image you can stylise however you please. I have really increased the contrast and vibrancy in this image, but that is entirely a personal preference thing.