Create Panoramas for Free
In a recent article about differentiating yourself as a photographer, I mentioned panorama prints, and how JD can print panoramas up to 30×72″ on regular or metallic paper. What I didn’t mention was the process for creating panorama prints. Actually, the process is pretty easy, and you can create them for free.
So why should you create a panorama if you aren’t going to print it?
Although panorama-sized portraits can be an incredibly profitable sale, printing and framing a large studio sample is an investment. Instead of printing one to start, use the instructions below to create a panorama, then layer it on a wall image (like on the right) and feature it on your website and in your marketing materials. If you can show potential clients what you’re capable of producing, you’re more likely to make the sale.
How to Create a Panorama:
• For high-resolution panos you need to use a tripod (it makes stitching more accurate for large prints) and take 3 or more different images from the same location. Make sure the tripod is level, and overlap each shot by 20-25%.
• When setting up a shot for a pano, remember the “rule of thirds” and look for shapes that are visually interesting. For example, in the image to the right the couple is not centered, and the straight lines of flowers go off to a vanishing point.
• Since the lighting for each shot in the pano will tend to be a little different, it helps if you shoot RAW. This gives you the most options for balancing the brightness and contrast in software. Never use Auto exposure settings, and don’t adjust any settings on the camera between shots.
• If you have Photoshop, the easiest solution is to use the built-in Photo Merge feature. It is simple to use, and most problems can be fixed using Photoshops warp and clone tools.
• If you don’t have Photoshop, but use a Windows PC, the most popular photo stitcher is Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor). It’s free, very user friendly and does a great job most of the time.
• Sometimes photo stitching software simply cannot fix transitions between images. Common problems include vertical banding, parallax and ghosts (moving objects). The most powerful photo stitching software according to reviewers is Hugin. It is free, both Mac and PC compatible, and can create a panorama from virtually any number of image files. It is however, the most difficult to use. Many reviewers start with Photoshop, MS-ICE or the photo stitcher software that comes with their camera, then try Hugin if they can’t get good results.