Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Special Techniques For Landscapes
Excerpted from Rob Sheppard’s new book, The Magic of Digital Landscape Photography
1 Plan out the panoramic. Figure out what the composition will include from left to right (or top to bottom if you’re shooting a tall panoramic image; that can be an interesting variation on the technique). A panoramic needs to have interesting things happening from one side to another, with no dead space, to keep your viewer’s attention.
2 Level your tripod and your camera. As you move across the scene taking photos, the camera needs to move in a horizontal plane or the resulting images will be hard to line up. Do the leveling in two steps: tripod first, then camera.
3 Shoot a series of photographs across the scene. Take a series of photographs from the left to the right side of the panoramic area, moving the camera slightly as you go across.
4 Overlap the images by 30% to 50%. More overlap can make it easier to line up the photos in the computer, especially with automated programs. Look for strong visual elements that are in the overlap areas—they will help in the alignment of the images.
5 Shoot on manual. Your exposure needs to be optimized and limited to one setting through the entire sequence of images or the final pieces of the pan will have tonal variations that will be hard to match up. Also, set your white balance to one setting or you may get color variations, too.
Stitching the image together:
Unless you’re a hardcore Photoshop user, you’ll find that a stitching program is the best way to go as it does the combining of images work for you. Stitching programs such as ArcSoft’s Panorama Maker or the Photomerge option in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements are very easy, but need distinct objects in the overlapped areas in order to work best. In addition, they should have a healthy overlap (30% to 50%) to do their best in stitching of images.
With a stitching program, the steps are pretty straightforward. First, check all of your photos to be sure they’re consistent in tonality and color. Any big changes in brightness, for example, will show up as unevenness in the final image. This is a big advantage of using a program like Lightroom for basic adjustments; you can easily match multiple images.
Rob Sheppard is the former editor of OP and the current editor-at-large. He blogs regularly at the OP blog at www.outdoorphotographer.com and at www.natureandphotography.com.
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