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Panorama and stitching

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Panoramics and Stitching

I started a discussion on Luminous Landscape on this issue and had a lot of good postings, here is the link. I'll try to add most of the suggestions to this article when time allows. Until than, I'm most thankful to all contributors.

Ebtering the Grand Teton National Park

I don't shoot full scope panoramas, period. I do shoot stitched panoramic pictures. There are three reasons to that:

  • Many landscape pictures essentially only contain horisontal elements, cropping tosses away expensive pixels..
  • Stitching pictures is like stepping up one size on sensor, like going from APS-C to FX.
  • It is possible to make very wide angle pictures using these techniques and still have a natural look.

Tools of the trade

I regard these essential, the L-plate makes it possible to mount the camera vertically which increases the number of pixels by 50%

  • Panning clamp
  • L-plate

Pano head

One thing that is really needed for panoramics is a panorama adapter. The one I use is the RRS PCL-1 panning clamp. To this I added a PCL-DVTL "dove tail adapter". This assembly is small, so I can easily carry it in my pockets and can be clicked into place in seconds.

The reason that you need the panorama plate is that the axis of rotation must be vertical when we shoot panoramas. The PCL-1 is mounted on a ball head and also has a built in bubble level so it's easy to position it in horizon. Normally you would have the camera mounted in vertical. The vertical mounting has two advantages:

  • The number of pixels that can be utilized is maximized
  • The angle of view is maximized

Occasionally I add a Manfrotto tilt adapter. I also ha a "dovetail" adapter on this one and an additional QR clamp. The whole assembly is shown below. The idea with this is essentially to crop out the lower part of the image. With this equipment it's possible to shoot "multiple rowl" panos.

Pano head with tilt adapter and L-plate

Basic steps

  • Mount panorama clamp on tripod head
  • Make everything level
  • Take exposures with something like 30% overlap to cover panorama

Merging the panorma

The tool I use is Autopano Pro. This program is available for all platforms worth having, Mac OS/X, Linux and even Windows. What I do is essentially:

Prepare the pictures in Lightroom.

  • The most important setting here is to eliminate lateral chromatic aberration, because this cannot be corrected later
  • Adjust tonality so I get good detail in shadows and highlights. At this stage I care little about contrast and tone curve.
  • Export the images as 16-bit tiffs in Adobe RGB to a new folder

Process the pictures in Autopano Pro

  • Browse folder created above
  • Find panoramas
  • Select perspective (normally cylindrical but sometimes rectilinear)
  • Crop
  • Render the picture using "Smartblend". Smartblend is really smart. Can rearrange things that moved and fix parallax.

Reimport the picture in Lightroom and do final tonality adjustment, saturation and vibrance.

Presenting the Panorama

The way I can present these panoramas is with an animated slide show. Like show a central part of the picture, move the left edge and zoom so picture fills screen and than pan across the picture. The files below need serious bandwidth.

On MacOS/X I use "Fotomagico" and on the PC it is Picture2exe which works best for me. The format I normally use is 1080P also nown as "Full HD".

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 August 2009 23:24  


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