Tuesday, September 17, 2013
How to create large-scale panoramic images with intricate detail using your everyday DSLR
If the bow is minimal, you can make a quick crop, then flatten, and your panorama is stitched and complete. However, if you have a lot of curvature, you may need to flatten the layers and use Edit > Transform tools (such as Warp and Perspective) to adjust for the curve. In my experience, I've learned to use these tools sparingly to keep the photo looking natural and to avoid degrading the quality of the stitched image.
Final Postprocessing. Now that you have a successful stitch and you've flattened the layers, you have a single and very large photograph. I typically apply a couple of last postprocessing steps at this point, such as sharpening and sometimes a slight contrast or levels adjustment. I have, from time to time, arrived at this final step, and once I see all the images combined, recognize I could have done a better job with the initial group RAW adjustments, and I start over by making those adjustments to my RAW files collectively, then redo the stitching steps.
Quality Versus Quantity. Often, when you see multi-row panoramic images around the Internet, they're many gigapixels in size as the result of the stitching of hundreds of photos. While this provides a fantastic game of "Where's Waldo?", it can be overkill and the images might not be ideally suited to printing.
Another challenge with producing high-quality multi-row panoramic images has to do with the amount of time it takes to pan through the scene and capture each image. If you estimate it takes three to five seconds per image to pan, let the vibration subside, then take the photo; a multi-row panorama of just 24 images takes nearly two minutes. Now imagine 60 images would take four to five minutes. While time is passing as you shoot, the clouds are moving, the wind is blowing, and the sun is on the move, shifting exposure and shadows. The amount of frames you choose for your panorama helps determine the type of conditions you need for a quality end result.
My goal with multi-row panoramas is to provide my viewers with bigger print size options, but with the same fine-art print quality you'd expect from a single frame. A multi-row panorama of just 24 images produces enough combined resolution for stunningly large prints 10 to 15 feet wide and larger.
The founder of Aperture Academy, Stephen Oachs is a photographer, gallery owner and workshop leader. You can see more of his work and sign up for his workshops at www.apertureacademy.com. and www.stephenoachs.com.
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