Taking a Pano (Part II)

... and we're back!  

When I left you last week we were learning about how to put together a panorama, uh, I mean pano, in your camera.  If you're not familiar with this process, check out last week's post.  We learned how to set up your camera and the process of how to take a pano.  Well, now is the easy part.  We've got all these separate images that we took, but how do we put them all together so they look a little more like this.

Okay, you have all these photos of a scene, taken from the left side of your view to the right and you've overlapped them like we talked about last week, but now what?  Well, the easiest thing to do is print out all your photos and tape them together on a big white board.  If you look at this board from, oh, I'd say about fifty feet away, nobody will be able to see the seams or the tape and will think it's a perfectly processed pano.  Since that's the easiest, but not the best, let's talk about other options.  There are a bunch of programs out there that will stitch together your images, but I've found that plain old Photoshop, or Photoshop Elements, is not just the easiest, but does a darn good job and a lot of photographers already have them, so you don't have to go out and buy new software. Here’s how:

Open up Photoshop and choose File > New > Photomerge Panorama. You’ll get a pop-up menu asking you if you want to use individual images (“Files”) or all the images in a single folder (“Folders”). Alternately, you can just open all the files you want to use prior to selecting “Photomerge Panorama,” then you can choose “add open files.”

If you choose “Files” or “Folders,” you’ll then need to navigate to the directory where your photos are stored.  This is all way easier if you're working in Lightroom, but for this post we're gonna assume you're not.

Now choose “perspective” from the layout menu. In the perspective layout, the software will choose the center image as its reference point, and then stitch all the other images together around it, skewing, stretching or repositioning as necessary. There is also an “interactive” layout, which allows you to manually position everything, but that's way more difficult and right now we're talking easy!

Now Photoshop will give you the option of blending the images, which means it will select the best place to join the photos and will blend the colors in order to create an invisible seam. You can also choose to remove any vignettes that may have occurred in the images when you were taking them, and to correct for distortion. It is, of course, better to avoid these problems rather than expect Photoshop to fix them for you, since the software may not do a perfect job and we all know you will, right?

And that’s it – at the basic level, of course.  You've just made your first panorama.  It's actually even easier than this if you're working in Lightroom, cause you can just "merge to panorama in Photoshop" right from your Lightroom library!  

This can be a little difficult to read about, but I promise, once you've tried it a few times, it's pretty easy.  As always, though, feel free to contact me (mattshellphoto@gmail.com) if you have any questions and I can walk you through it.

See ya next week!