Tuesday, September 17, 2013
How to create large-scale panoramic images with intricate detail using your everyday DSLR
If it's not marked, an easy way to find the nodal point of the lens is to put two vertical elements in front of the lens, say, two chess pieces on the kitchen table a few feet apart. Then, move the camera back or forward on the nodal bar until the two verticals don't move in relationship to each other as you pan left to right. If you're behind the nodal point, the front alignment object will move in the same direction. If you're in front of the nodal point, the front alignment object will move in the opposite direction.
Shooting A Panoramic Photograph
Once you choose your location, it's time to shoot! You'll want a sturdy tripod with a bubble level or a panoramic head that has a bubble level built into it.
You're going to shoot your images from left to right. If you're shooting a multi-row panorama, then you'll shoot left to right, return to the left-most position and tilt down for the next row. It's just like reading a book.
Once your gear is positioned, it's time to get set up for a proper exposure. Shoot entirely in manual. I set the exposure by finding the brightest area in my scene and setting exposure based on that. This way, I'm sure not to have clipping areas in my final stitch.
Before I start shooting, I like to look at the scene with my eyes to identify a portion of the landscape that's going to make the best image. I pick a starting location on the left and right, and then I plan to shoot a little extra on both sides. I do the same for the top and bottom of multi-row images to account for some cropping in the stitching and processing steps.
Next, I decide how much I need to pan between frames. This depends on the distance of the landscape and the focal length of the lens. I find that for the best stitching results, an overlap between images of 20% to 25% is perfect. Most panoramic nodal gear will have degree markers, so I like to find a starting point, then pan while looking through the viewfinder and pick some element in the scene as a reference point for overlap. These practice pans help me decide how many degrees to move between each photo. Once I have the number of degrees to pan, then it's very easy to pan through a row efficiently without looking through the viewfinder.
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