ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Creating panoramic images
SPECIAL TO THE DAILY
Last week, I mentioned assem bling multiple images into a single panoramic image. After a few people asked me about it, I thought I would elaborate on exactly how to make a panoramic image. The best way is to use a film camera specifically designed to make panoramic images. These cameras use 6X17 film instead of 35mm.
However, since most of us don’t have cameras specifically designed for panos, let’s talk about how to make panos with what most of us do have.
The process of combining multiple images into a single panoramic is called stitching. Think of it as stitching multiple images together like stitching patches of a quilt together. So the first question that comes to mind is why not just crop a single image into a panorama? Well, it’s all about maxi mizing the pixel real estate. Imagine if we had a digital image and we crop off the top and bottom thirds.
We end up with only a third of the image left, and if we started with a nice large 12 megapixel file, we are now left with only a 4-megapixel image. The alterna tive is to capture several images and lay them side to side in one bigger image. If we use five of the same 12-megapixel files we end up with an image that is nearly 60 megapixels in size. With a bigger file there are a lot more options including bigger prints.
The first step is finding a subject that lends itself to a panoramic image.
This is one of the hardest things about creating panos. The image should be interesting and it should lead the viewer from one side of the image to the other. The biggest pitfall newcom ers to panoramic photography encounter is trying to cram too much into the image, and it ends up being cluttered and uninteresting.
The next step is in how you capture the image. Regardless of what type of camera you use, it is important to ori ent the camera perpendicular to the direction of the panoramic. For exam ple if the long side of your panoramic is horizontal then orient your camera vertically in order to maximize your pixel real estate. Make sure to use a manual mode in your camera, and avoid using a polarizing filter so that all of the images have the same expo sures. Lastly, try to avoid having both near-and-far elements in the image.
The near object will appear to shift from one image to another. To see how this works, hold your thumb up at arm’s length and close one eye and then the other.
You’ll notice how it appears to shift back and forth.
The final step is to combine the images you just took. Most digital cameras now come with software and instructions for how to create panoramic images. You can also do it manually in Photoshop. If you have Photoshop CS2 or CS3, you can select the images you want to combine in Bridge and then click, Tools>>Auto mate>> Photomerge in order to bring up the merge dialog. Select Auto or Perspective and make sure to select “leave as layers.” By leaving the images as layers, you can go back in and tweak the transitions to make them completely invisible.
When you are all done you’ll have a panoramic image that you can print several feet wide. For step-by-step directions along with screen shots, and images, visit http://www.timothyfaust.com/blog.
For more photography how-to tips, visit http://www.timothyfaust.com.Timothy Faust is an award-winning photojournalist living in Breckenridge. If you have a photography question you would like to see answered in this column, send it to email@example.com.
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