Saturday, February 4, 2012

Perfect Sunrise Pano

First the finished product - a three shot panorama I took early one morning. In this post I will try to explain a foolproof process for taking panoramas.

Canon 600D, Tamron 18-270mm f3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD. Focal length 18mm, Exposure 1/50sec at f4.5 +2/3EV, ISO 100, Focus auto, VC on, Flash none, Filter none.

To make a panorama you need two or more photos of a scene. Before you take the photos you need to go through a little checklist:
  • If you shoot with a tripod, turn off any image stabilizing your camera may have. IS typically does not function well when the camera is static.
  • Dial in ISO100. Higher ISOs will introduce more noise.
  • Switch your camera to aperture priority mode and dial in f8. Most lenses perform pretty well at f8.
  • Now aim at the center of your intended panorama an press the shutter button half way to take a meter reading. If your focal point or key interest point is off center, rather take a meter reading off that.
  • The meter reading will give you the required shutter speed to correctly expose the key part of the image.
  • Set the camera to manual mode and dial in f8 and the shutter speed metered above.
You are now going to take the image series, starting on your left and ending with the last photo on your right. Keep the following in mind:
  • Turn your camera vertical so you shoot in portrait mode.
  • Try to not to change your lens's zoom setting as this will distort the final image and make composing the panorama difficult.
  • Keep the horizon on the same spot in the image as you pan left to right.
  • Make sure you overlap images with out 30% so your software has good reference points for stitching images together.
Now, take you shots carefully. Something I have found useful, is to use one of the view finder's focus spots of my camera as reference point to keep on the horizon to make sure I track nice and level from one shot to the next.

Below in sequence are my three shots. I've shot in landscape mode because I wanted to exclude as much foreground as possible from the image. These images were passed to Adobe Photoshop CS5 and stitched into the final panorama.

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