How to shoot panoramas

Panoramas are a great way to photograph landscapes. An unbroken view of the scene from one corner to the other gives the viewer a better perspective to understand the grandeur of the place. It is quite simple and creates a great impact. Panoramic images are made by stitching multiple images into one bigger image using software. Let’s see how to shoot panoramas.

5 shots
This is an image made by merging 5 horizontal shots

Shoot images with an overlap of 30-50%

Panoramas are created by shooting a series of images from one point to the other. When the stitching software merges these images, it looks for similarities between the edges and that’s how it aligns and merges two shots. In order to have a clean merge, allow at least 30% to 50% overlap between images so that the merge is proper. When I say overlap what I mean is, whatever feature is present in the last quarter of the first image, make sure you include that feature in the first quarter of the second image.

Panorama 2
See how the two images have a common area included so that it is easy to merge them seamlessly into one single image

Shoot in Manual Mode

Change the White Balance to manual and shoot in Manual Mode by setting ISO, exposure and aperture. The reason for this is that since the light may change from one end to the other, different settings determined by the camera may bring out different shades and exposures in the images. With difference in white balance and light, the images will not merge into one smooth panorama.

Take into account moving objects

While you are busy taking panoramas, time doesn’t stop. Panorama works best when your subject is not moving. If there is some movement, you need to account and plan for it. Say there is human walking in the frame, you would’ve captured him in one image, and by the time you turn the camera to take the next shot, he would’ve walked into second frame again. Same goes with moving clouds, waves or windy days with trees in your frame. Wait for the movement to subside or move as fast as the subject.

Don’t shoot too close to the subject

Panorama works best if you are at some distance from the scene, if you are too close, the objects/scene in the front will be distorted and curved which doesn’t look good. Go far away or choose distant scenes so that you can cover the entire scene with as little distortion as possible.

Shoot vertical images to cover more area

Panorama 3
This is an image made from only 4 images but the images were vertical shots covering more area

Usually we shoot in landscape orientation and the width is quite large compared to the height, which doesn’t look that good if more than 3 shots are merged. Instead, try shooting vertically, i.e. portrait orientation. This way, a lot of space is covered and there is a better balance between the height and width of the image.

Use software to finally merge the images

There are many softwares available that do the job of stitching the images to create a panorama. I use Canon provided PhotoStitch software and I think it is pretty good. Many people swear by a free software called AutoStitch, you can try that as well. You just need to select the images and arrange them in order and the software usually does a pretty good job if you’ve taken the shots right!

Few more suggestions

Try to shoot panoramas from left to right, not that it matters if you shoot right to left but once the images are loaded on to your system, it will be easier to identify the images you shot for panorama since you can see them in order if you shoot left to right. Also avoid shooting against the sun or closer to the sun as such images will be brighter compared to the rest. Shooting in the opposite direction to the sun gives good results. It is not always necessary to make horizontal panoramas, if there is a tall frame in front of you, you can always choose to shoot vertical images and merge them vertically.

To read more from Neelima Vallangi, head to her blog, The Wandering Soul’s Wander Tales.

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Neelima Valangi

Neelima Valangi

A travel writer and photographer by profession, Neelima is an offbeat and adventure travel enthusiast. Eschewing touristy things and sightseeing, she prefers to trek or travel to remote corners in search of extraordinary stories.

One thought on “How to shoot panoramas

  1. This was a really useful post. Thanks for the details. I didn’t realise software could auto stitch so i tried stitching the images myself which wasn’t as good..
    Will use your advise for future panorama shots.
    One question I had was when shooting in manual mode does one maintain the Iso and white balance across all the shots from left to right or adjust as per the lighting​ changes

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