Panoramas

Joined
Apr 22, 2007
Messages
317
Location
San Diego
Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I can't seem to find another forum that seems appropriate.

Tomorrow night I am joing a group of photographers here in San Diego to do a sunset of the SD skyline. Among other things I want to try to do some panoramas of the city. I will use my D2X to take the pictures and try stitching them together in Photoshop CS2. Can anyone give me some guidelines for setting up my camera and lens for this shoot. For example:

  • Manual focus or auto
  • White balance auto or other
  • Exposure on manual or one of the auto settings?
  • How to level the camera and lens?
Since I have never done this before any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
6,668
Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I can't seem to find another forum that seems appropriate.

Tomorrow night I am joing a group of photographers here in San Diego to do a sunset of the SD skyline. Among other things I want to try to do some panoramas of the city. I will use my D2X to take the pictures and try stitching them together in Photoshop CS2. Can anyone give me some guidelines for setting up my camera and lens for this shoot. For example:

  • Manual focus or auto
  • White balance auto or other
  • Exposure on manual or one of the auto settings?
  • How to level the camera and lens?
Since I have never done this before any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.

Some suggestions...

*Manual or auto focus...does not matter as long as your main subject is in focus.

*tripod if you can. If not use gridlines in your viewfinder for maintaining level

*shoot raw

*set wb (although you can use awb and then set wb for all your frames when you process). You want to have the same wb for all frames.

*fixed manual exposure. All frames of your stitch should have the same exposure settings.

*Focal lengths depend on the scene. When I shoot, mainly use 35-200mm.


Personal opinion, the stitch engine in CS2 is very weak. There are better programs out there for stitching panoramas. I currently use Ptgui.


Hope this helps...good luck !


Regards

RFC
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Messages
14,461
Location
Toronto Canada
I'll second the recommendation for PTGui - best I've found so far and I've been doing panos for a number of years, of course, not at the same rate as Robert! :Shocked: You don't need to worry about keeping the camera level if using PTGui, it'll straighten out each shot and it even adjusts exposures (but, as Robert says, you're best to deal with that in-camera).
One thing which helps create a great pano is having a left side and a right side which balance. Try to survey the landscape in your mind first - blocking off ends with your hands and see if you can see a balance in the shot that way. You don't want to have a lot of large details bunched to one side with open spaces on the other. Even trees can be used to achieve a balance.

Go out, shoot, have fun! Panos are great.
 
J

jaymc

Guest
I did this shoot with the SD-DSLR group back in Sept of '04. My suggestions are to follow Bob's advice on directions (take the bridge, not the foot ferry) and get there early so you don't have parking problems. Definitely bring a tripod and get some good panoramas of SD. Also, don't forget to look over your shoulder and get some shots of the Moon and Saturn if you can.

http://jay-mcginnis.smugmug.com/gallery/231244#8974985

Say hello to Mark and Diane for me,
Jay :smile:
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2005
Messages
3,625
Location
Houston, TX
Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I can't seem to find another forum that seems appropriate.

Tomorrow night I am joing a group of photographers here in San Diego to do a sunset of the SD skyline. Among other things I want to try to do some panoramas of the city. I will use my D2X to take the pictures and try stitching them together in Photoshop CS2. Can anyone give me some guidelines for setting up my camera and lens for this shoot. For example:

  • Manual focus or auto
  • White balance auto or other
  • Exposure on manual or one of the auto settings?
  • How to level the camera and lens?
Since I have never done this before any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
Exposure, white balance, and focus should be kept the same for each shot you're going stitch. The easiest way to ensure this is by putting all of them in manual mode. Auto Exposure can be particularly damaging because the camera bases its decision on averaging out what's in the frame; and if the scene content changes significantly from one frame to the next you can end up with substantially different exposures. Auto WB can be equally damaging if shooting JPG, but with RAW you always have the option to change the WB later.

Today's 3rd party pano programs are getting better at using blend techniques to compensate for slight differences in exposure, or distortion, vignetting, etc. But they can only do so much, and any "repair" work the stitcher has to do can be detrimental to the image quality.

Same thing goes for leveling. Sure you can straighten out the final image after stitching, but the more off-level it is, the more you're going to have to crop to get rid of any empty canvas space. This could mean cropping out something you didn't want to crop out. So if you're not absolutely sure your base is level you might want to give your composition some breathing room.

PTGui is an excellent program, and used to be my preferred stitcher. The most recent version of Autopano Pro surpasses it IMHO, so that's what I mostly use now especially if I'm going to have to combine bracketed exposures. Either program is very capable though, and both will produce far better results than CS2's merge tool (which can't do any blending and will often leave visible seams across even-toned areas such as the sky). I've heard CS3's stitcher is better at alignment, but I'm still not sure if it has any blending capabilities. Both AutoPano Pro and PTGui have demo versions available for you to try, although they watermark the stitched images (Autopano does anyway, can't remember if PTGuid does).

My preference is to get the source images as perfect as possible so that the stitching software has an easy job. To that end I use dedicated panoramic gear that helps ensure I get a level rotation around the lens' optical center to avoid not only leveling problems but also parallax error. If panos are something you want to get serious about, you might want to check out the Really Right Stuff website to see some of the gear available. They also have a tutorial available that explains some of the concepts involved. You may not need to get too deep into all this for a simple horizontal pano of a distant skyline, but if you ever decide you want to start doing vertical and/or multi-row panos, or panos that have both foreground and distant objects in the frame, these concepts and tools can be very helpful.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
6,668
Hi Jeff,
I will have to take a second look at autopano pro. It sounds like its perfect for panoramas with bracket exposures.

Here is a recent fun shot made with Ptgui. Standing in the middle of an intersection on 5th avenue during a red light... handheld 18 frames in 15 seconds, iso 200, 1/200sec, f8, raw. My biggest worry was having the light change to green and getting run over :)


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Regards

RFC
 
Joined
Feb 25, 2006
Messages
884
Location
NC
I've done tons of panoramas for my universities advertising, and my key thing is to keep all settings the same. I usually shoot around 24mm, f/11 for DOF, and using a tripod!
I use AutoPan for my stitching as PS2 is terrible for it. Its def my favorite by far and is the easiest as well. There are BETTER ones, but this one almost always works for me.
Here are a few of mine... I appologize for the quality on some of them as they are being shrunk down from several feet long to only a few inches...

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Joined
Apr 22, 2007
Messages
317
Location
San Diego
Thanks

Wow. Some great responses and very useful information. I will definitely look into the software you guys have suggested for stitching the photos together. I have done very little of this with CS2 and after reading your responses, I don't plan on trying to do this. Sounds like the other software is much better.

Thanks again. I'll let you know how this turns out.
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2005
Messages
3,625
Location
Houston, TX
I will have to take a second look at autopano pro. It sounds like its perfect for panoramas with bracket exposures.
It's really nice; you just add all the images to the pano project, then tell it to group them into "layers" based on shutter speed (or aperture, or whatever) and it will spit out a stitched file for each exposure, all using the same control points.

The latest version also has a new blending mode called Smart Blend that works well when you have people or other moving objects in your scene. (Multi-band mode is still there is you just want to avoid seams).

Here is a recent fun shot made with Ptgui. Standing in the middle of an intersection on 5th avenue during a red light... handheld 18 frames in 15 seconds, iso 200, 1/200sec, f8, raw. My biggest worry was having the light change to green and getting run over :)
A multi-row pano pano shot hand-held, very impressive. If I tried something like that I'd end up with gaps or soem other problem...
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2007
Messages
317
Location
San Diego
Pano Pro

Jeff-
Can you give me the website address for this software? I can't seem to get it through googling.
Thanks
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2007
Messages
317
Location
San Diego
Kerry-
Yes, I am sure the site you posted is the one he is talking about. Thanks alot for the information. For some reason I could not find it when i googled it.
I appreciate the information.
Thanks again.
 
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