Shooting the Panorama
I always wanted to take this shot…. and I did on my last trip to New York City. This is a 360 degree panorama of the interior of the Grand Central Station. How did I avoid the same moving people getting into different sections of this image? The first with the correct answer by posting in the comments below this post gets a free lifetime access to my new online Travel Photography Amazing Tips & Techniques or Easy Photography Tips for Cruise Ships & Ports course .
This post – Part 1 will cover shooting the panorama with your camera. My next post as Part 2 will cover software stitching, enhancing and printing your panoramas.
Digital cameras and recent software updates make the creation of quality panorama images of your travels very easy. Travelers frequently come across truly amazing photo ops with sweeping landscapes, buildings with unique architecture and beautiful lobbies or pastoral scenes or sunsets that a single wide angle lens setting simply misses the total grandeur of the scene. Cruise ships frequently visit ports of call where panorama techniques will better capture the scene as you arrive, leave the port, or tour around. Visit a prior post Photo Tips for Tours & Shore Excursions
Some new digital cameras enable the creation of excellent panorama images in camera with one shutter click using a horizontal video mode where you pan across the scene with your camera. The camera automatically coverts the horizontal video to one wide panorama image in camera. However, this post will feature how to stitch and merge a sequence of individual photos taken with a traditional digital camera and later with computer software.
Here are the steps for creating panoramic images.
1. Planning your shots before photographing the sequence of shots to be stitched and merged later is important. If the scene is quite narrow (eg.
long distance shot of a city skyline) you will want to shot with the camera held horizontally and if the important elements in the scene are more
tall than wide (eg. close to city buildings, scenes with an important foreground) shoot with camera vertically or turned 90 degrees. When I have
time, a shoot a set of shots horizontally and vertically to cover all my bases. Most are not aware that photo merge features not only merge a
photo sequence in one line but also sequences in multiple lines (meaning you can shot the side of a building, say shooting floors 1 -4, then
shootings floors 5-8, etc. thereby eliminating the need for an expensive super wide angle/fish eye lens)
2. If you have a polarized filter on your lens consider removing it since the angle of the camera to the sun changes as you move the camera
across the scene thereby varying the degree of polarization in each shot. Some software products with a photo merge feature sometimes reveal
significant banding in the final panorama images due to the tonal changes from the different levels of polarization in each shot. However
Photoshop Element Version 6 and up and Photoshop CS3 and up use photo merge solutions that solve this banding issue quite well so removing the
polarized filter may not be required.
3. Shoot the first shot of a panorama sequence with your arm in the shot (then shoot the same shot without the arm) so when I look at tons of
thumbnail images in my editing browser I can quickly spot the first of a panorama sequence by looking for my arm in a shot. Shoot slowly holding the camera
steady, feet apart and elbow to your chest and be sure to overlap each image by at least 30% when shooting. Use a horizon line, road edge or
building feature to ensure you panning shots are lined up. Ideally a tripod should be used but I never carry one anymore while travelling.
4. Use good composition and avoid centering the horizon line. For example if the foreground is exciting (a blue lagoon) and the sky is boring,
place the horizon in the upper 2/3 of the shot. If it is a dynamic sunset scene place the horizon in the bottom 1/3 of the scene. Sunset shots are dramatically improved by underexposing by at least -1 or -2 EV. See a previous post on capturing dramatic sunsets.
5. If you scene is close to you (eg. in a small room, objects within about 50 feet) you will get panorama distortion effects arsing from the fact
that the optical center of your camera (the nodal point) is never the same as the tripod screw position or hand held pivot point of the camera.
This is called parallax error but is not an issue for most travel panoramas since most of your panorama features will be far away.
In the next post, Easy Panorama Travel images – Part 2 I will cover the common steps on using panorama stitching features of several software
products, how to enhance your final panoramas with stunning color and black and white effects and where and how to get your stunning panoramas
printed. In the meantime, feel free to post comments and online links to your own panorama creations and please share this post on your social
Readers are welcome to order fine art prints of my panorama images with worldwide shipping for their own enjoyment. They will look great in an office, board room, over a fireplace, in a rec room or a hallway. Click on any of the images in this post for printing options and prices. Visit our fine art image collection at Fine Art America. Enjoy! Watch for the next quiz: Where’s David & Anna? for prizes.
David Smith is a world travel and event photographer, travel writer, Blogger, keynote public speaker and cruise ship guest lecturer. Visit his online photo gallery Interface Images, “like” his Facebook Page , subcribe to his Blog Images-Connecting the World and order museum quality art prints at his Fine Art America print gallery. He has also recently published two online photography courses Travel Photography-Amazing Tips & Techniques and Easy Photography Tips for Cruise Ships and Ports. These fun, informational and inspirational online courses include live online video, comprehensive handouts and more and can be downloaded to computers, tablets and smart phones. Each course is only $39 and are sponsored by Udemy the leader in online education where all courses have a 100% money back guarantee. Blog subscribers can take use the coupon code $10FF at checkout