Creating a panorama is simpler than you might think. Here are the basics:
1. Find your location. You may need to do some scouting if you’re trying to find a great view of your city. Spend some time looking at panoramas of the view you’re searching for; you may recognize landmarks or find that the photographer is willing to share. If you’re adventurous, you may prefer to just drive around in search of the perfect view. Keep in mind the direction you’re facing if you’re interested in sunsets or sunrises.
That said, you can make a panorama of any scene. Step outside your house and get a panorama of your block, for example, or a neighborhood you like.
2. Set up your shot and snap away! First of all, make sure you’re using a tripod. No matter how steady you are, you’ll just get better results this way. If you have a remote shutter release as well, even better. Next, set your camera to manual and determine the appropriate shutter speed and aperture for your scene, then set your focus manually. Don’t change any of these settings—keep them the same for all the separate shots in your panorama. As you take your shots, make sure there is plenty of overlap (I shoot for 20–30%) to make it easier to stitch them all together.
3. Use image editing software to stitch your images together. I’m most familiar with Photoshop CS4, so I’ll go over the specifics for that program.
Open all of the images you want to stitch together.
Go to File → Automate → Photomerge.
On the left side of the dialogue box, select the Layout. Try “Auto” to start.
On the right, select “Files” from the drop-down box.
Make sure “Blend Images Together” is checked at the bottom.
Depending on the size of your files, number of files, and your computer’s memory, this could take several minutes. The great thing is that Photoshop does all the work, and it usually does a pretty good job. Once your panorama is complete, go ahead and edit as you like. You’re done!
Here’s a little information about the two panoramas in this post:
For the panorama at the top, I wanted a shot of the courtyard at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. However, the widest lens I had with me was a 28-105mm, so I couldn’t get the entire courtyard in my shot. Instead, I started from the far left of the scene and took several overlapping photos so I could later merge them in Photoshop. Because I didn’t have a tripod (I know, breaking the rules), I leaned back against a wall, kept my elbows tucked in as much as possible, and moved from shot to shot very slowly.
For this panorama, which was my first, I found a spot on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass with a decent view and set up my tripod. I was aiming for a 360-degree view, so my camera turned in a complete circle to get all the shots necessary.
For some beautiful panoramas of downtown Tacoma, including some of the recent snow storm, check out Miso Studios.