A couple of people have asked me how I took this photo so I thought I’d write a very quick ‘how to’ in order to explain how I arrived at the final image. I’ve split it into three parts so you can choose to read it all the way through or just select the bits that are relevant to you.
There’s a couple you’ll need to follow the tutorial to the letter. Of course, feel free to use your own images rather than the ones here, the end technique is the same.
I used two software packages. Adobe Photoshop CC and On One Software’s Perfect Effects 9 Free edition which is a superb and powerful extension to Adobe Photoshop which is well worth installing as it makes some processes incredibly simple and intuitive. To follow the whole tutorial you’ll need this free sofware. If you only go as far as part two, then don’t worry, it’s not needed.
If you want to use the images I did to make the panorama, the full size (raw processed) images can be found here. That’s a 78mb download of 7 24mp images
Part 1 – a few basic tips and tricks
1, Your camera needs to be in manual mode. Take exposure readings across the area of view and use an average. If you are processing the images in Adobe Camera Raw there is no need to change the white balance from auto – we will edit that later.
2, Use the highest aperture you can get away with comfortably – F/10 should be pretty much a minimum as you want maximum depth of field
3, Your lens/camera also need to be set to manual focus, if it’s a zoom lens make sure you don’t change the zoom during the exposures – focus on the centre element of the image and then without changing it, check that the end elements are also in focus.
4, Stand still, in one place, use the camera’s viewfinder (not live view) and rotate your upper body without moving your feet – try to keep your horizon pretty much in the same position in the viewfinder (and of course level) for all of the shots.
5, If you are going to use a tripod, make sure the head of the tripod is level rather than adjusting the camera using the pan and tilt options – check two or three times by sweeping from left to right making sure that the horizon stays level
6, If you are hand holding, try to avoid objects/people that are close to you. These are always problematic and to photograph them properly requires a proper panoramic tripod head
7, Take as many photos as you like – holding the camera in portrait view and make sure your photos overlap by between 25% & 50% – you can always disregard frames that you don’t like/need at the editing stage. The more you take the better really, it can save a lot of time editing stray birds, cars and people that you’ve inadvertently caught in some of your frames.
Part 2 Creating the panorama
Once you have selected your set of raw images that you wish to work with. Open one up in Photoshop and just have a quick look at shadow detail, exposure etc. I find it easier to pick the one with the most contrast in it and work from that, you can always adjust things later if the final image isn’t yo your satisfaction.
Make a note of any settings you make in the raw editor, in this case I only adjusted white balance (temperature) to ‘warm’ the image slightly set tint to zero, (Adobe Camera Raw loves to vary this) and for these images, I boosted the clarity setting to 40.
When you are finished, open the image and save it to a folder where you can easily access it – in order to follow the next step of the tutorial, each image must be saved to your hard drive after you’ve opened them from Camera Raw – just leaving them open in Photoshop’s workspace won’t do.
You should now apply those exact settings to each of the pictures you are going to use and save them, a quick check in Photoshop that you have covered all the ground you need to should give you something like this.
At this stage of the proceedings, it’s best to keep your editing to a minimum – save that for the final picture (in this case that includes the kid hiding behind the bandstand column) I noticed him there but as the light was beginning to fade I decided it would be easier to remove him later, rather than wait for him to move.
With all of your images open in Photoshop, go to the file menu, select ‘automate’ and on the sub menu select ‘photomerge’
in the next dialogue, select ‘auto’ in the left menu, in the centre section select ‘open files’ (or you can browse to a folder), at the bottom, ensure that ‘Blend Images Together’ and ‘Geometric Distortion Correction’ are both checked before pressing OK
Now, sit back and let Photoshop do it’s stuff, you should end up with something like this. Depending on your computer’s specification, this may take a while.
What is immediately apparent is that we have a lot of space around the image and that it ‘dips’ in the centre (look at the horizon). We’ll fix that in a minute. Firstly check that your image has aligned properly – at this stage, each section of the image is on it’s own layer (you’ll see ‘tear’ marks in your picture) so check that walls line up proeprly and any major features look ‘right’ Once you are happy, flatten the layers down to one image (layers menu/flatten image) – ignore the white space, we are going to be using most of that.
Now is a good time to save your work – save as a tiff or bmp as we are still going to be working in it.
Once you’ve saved, let’s get on with straightening things up a little.
Go to the edit menu, select ‘Transform’ and then in the sub menu ‘warp’
You will see a grid appear on your picture with ‘handles’ at each point around the edges
Start at the top and click/hold on the round handles and slide them upwards to form an arc
Now do the same at the bottom pushing the handles upwards and work around the image, pushing and pulling the various points until you are happy with the result – use your horizon as a reference point, when it’s level is a good time to stop
Apply the warp and you should be left with something getting close to your final panorama
Now we can crop to the final shape – I took out the people on the left as I felt they detracted from the image
Now is a good time to remove any bits of the picture you don’t like and correct any little niggles you may find – in this case, there’s a guy walking on the beach and the kid we mentioned earlier – using Photoshop’s editing tools to remove them shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes
Once again, save your work.
If you’d like more information on the edits and processing I used to achieve the final image – please use the contact page to drop me a line.
Hopefully you’ve had fun following this tutorial and maybe learned a couple of things. Obviously there’s no charge but if you are feeling generous….
Buy me a beer 😉