Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Quick tips for taking panoramic photos

Panoramic photo of City Park during the Garden of Light

The photo above is a panoramic view of Bradford’s City Park from last night. Although my iPhone 5 is capable of doing panoramic photos with relative ease, I actually took this as 10 separate photos on my DSLR camera, and then stitched them together on the computer.

If you want to take your own panoramas, there’s a few things that you need to bear in mind:

  1. Use a tripod. This ensures that all of the pictures you take are level, and makes it easier to stitch the images together later on. If there’s a lot of vertical variation in the source images, the resulting panorama will be very thin.
  2. Use the same exposure settings. If the exposure is different between the images, they won’t match very well, or you may find that part of the image is significantly brighter or darker. This is more of an issue at night when your camera may try to compensate more for low light conditions; you may need to take your camera out of its fully automatic mode.
  3. The more pictures you take, the better. Make sure there’s plenty of overlap between the images; for yesterday’s picture, I allowed for around 75% overlap. This makes it easier for the stitching software to work out the order of your pictures and should result in less errors in the final panorama.

I personally use Hugin to stitch my pictures together, as it’s free and works on Macs, but there are other, better software programs out there – some of which are shipped with cameras. I wouldn’t recommend trying this yourself with Microsoft Paint, as specialist image stitching software will take into account curvature of the camera lens, and will blend the images rather than sticking one on top of the other at overlaps.

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