How to Take Panoramic Pictures

Have you ever wondered how professional photographers are able to take panoramic pictures with ease? Have you ever wished that you had the skills or talents that these photographers have? Have you also wished that you had the extra dough to spend on the next best photography equipment that these photographers are using?

panoramic photography

Panoramic Photo Constructed of Dubai Marina

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are in for a real treat, as I will reveal to you six easy steps that you can follow to take panoramic pictures yourself. You will be shocked at how easy this is. You DO NOT need any special skills or talents. You DO NOT need any expensive photography equipment to begin.

All you need is a persistent to learn and perfect. You will also need a point and shoot digital camera with manual mode. You do not need an expensive SLR camera to do the trick.

Step 1

Get your camera and find a nice spot overlooking the entire view of the scene where you wish to take your panoramic picture. Make sure that this spot has a clear, unobstructed view of the scene with few subject movements. This means that there should not be too many subjects moving around in the scene as this can cause alignment issues when you are stitching your pictures (more on this in step 6).

Step 2

Activate your camera grid in the viewfinder (if you are using a SLR camera) or LCD screen display. By activating your camera grid, you will be able to see grids of lines running horizontally and vertically across your camera’s viewfinder or LCD screen display. You can use the camera grid to align against a specific landmark in the scene (e.g. the horizon) so that pictures taken will not be swayed drastically. It helps you to judge the alignment of the scene so that the alignment remains consistent across the series of pictures you will be taking for your panoramic picture.

Tip: If your camera does not have the camera grid functionality, you can always make them yourself. How? Get a piece of transparent paper you can find in your local stationery store. Cut out a section that matches your LCD screen display’s size. Draw two horizontal lines and two vertical lines across the cut out section using a pen. Ensure that the four lines are equally spaced. A ruler here would be handy. Once done, just paste it on to the back of your LCD screen display using scotch tape. You now have your own self-made camera grid.

Step 3

Start aiming your camera at the far right or far left of the scene, whichever you see fit. Set your exposure mode to manual and adjust your aperture and shutter speed according to your environment. The reason for this is to ensure that our pictures have constant exposure, which is important when you take panoramic pictures. Remember to keep your arm squeezed comfortably against your body to maintain maximum stability.

Step 4

Start shooting away. Take the first picture of the scene and then pivot your upper body slightly to the left or right, depending on where your camera’s position is. If it is at the far right, pivot your body slightly to the left and vice versa. While pivoting, maintain your arm against your body and your hand should try to hold your camera as still as possible. Remember to make use of the camera grid as highlighted in step 2. Take the second picture, making sure that it overlaps the first picture by about 20 percent. Continue taking pictures in this manner until you reach the other end of the scene you wish to take.

Step 5

Preview your pictures that you had taken. Check that the pictures are aligned properly as you go over them. You can use the horizon as a guidance. You do not have to be perfect. A slight misalignment between the pictures is okay as it will not be noticeable after stitching.

Step 6

Use a graphics editing software (I use Adobe Photoshop CS 4) that comes with auto stitching tool. Most graphic editing software can automate the stitching and you do not need to do it manually. For users of Adobe Photoshop CS 4, use the “Photomerge” tool to stitch your pictures magically. Once your pictures are stitched, crop out unwanted areas.

There you have it! Being able to take panoramic pictures is not as difficult as it seems to be. Give it a try, and you will be amazed at how easy this is.

About the Author
Roy Lee is a freelance photographer residing in Malaysia, who specializes in wedding, portrait, and landscape photography. © Copyright – Roy Lee. All Rights Reserved.

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3 responses to “How to Take Panoramic Pictures”

  1. Greg says:

    Great tutorial. That explains the basics of panoramic photography well. I would also suggest getting a panoramic head if you are serious into panoramas.

  2. A very good stitching sotware is Hugin. It’s automatic, but easy to use and it’s free. To download go to http://hugin.sourceforge.net/

  3. andy mc says:

    nice tutorial, i love taking panoramic photos and would definitely say the most important thing is as you mention in ‘step 3’ to get the constant exposure right, other wise it can ruin your entire day when you get home and realize you wasted your time believe me!

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