Category Archives: Panoramas

Autopano Pro and Giga

Following on from my previous posts about panoramas, and the Brenizer narrow DOF panorama technique. I am briefly going to give Autopano’s panorama stitching software a plug, and explain how I use it. Autopano is one of the best panorama stitching applications around. I never have had any problems with it (that weren’t fixed by an update shortly later!) when stitching panoramas, even those as large as 100 shots.

I use Autopano Giga 2, although I really only use the features in Autopano Pro. My usual workflow for a panorama is as follows :-

  • Shoot in Pentax RAW, Manual mode but Auto White Balance
  • Import into Lightroom 2.5
  • Set a custom white balance on 1 image from the panorama
  • Select all images in panorama and sync the white balance to the value I chose.
  • Export all images in the panorama to a new subfolder (eg. Pano-1) as 16 bit TIFF
  • Open the new subfolder in an explorer window
  • Open Autopano
  • Create a new group in Autopano
  • Select all the files in the subfolder in the explorer window, and drag and drop onto the new group in Autopano
  • Edit the settings on the group in Autopano. Set the project folder to the subfolder location. Turn off Auto colour correction, sometimes I will increase the number of control points if there are few features in the images.
  • Click the Detect button in Autpano, it will then stitch the images and render a small preview.
  • Click the Render button in Autopano next to the preview. It will show a dialog with the render options. I render to a 16 bit TIFF with ZIP compression, and I change the output folder to be 1 above the subfolder (the same folder as the original import from camera). Also don’t forget to check the output size, if the panorama is not going to be printed extremely large, scale down the render, it will save a lot of time! And finally I change the filename to match the subfolder name, eg Pano-1.tif.
  • Once rendering is complete, I return to Lightroom, library and synchronize the import folder, select Import new files, show import dialog before importing.
  • Then I deselect the All option and only select the base import folder where I saved the panorama to.
  • My Pano-1.tif file should now be present along with the original panorama frames in the library, I can edit it as I please (crop, curves, colours etc)
  • And the final step is to export to JPG for publishing and also to DNG for archiving purposes.

Well that workflow took a more to write down than I expected. I hope it helps you out next time you are doing a panorama!

Tips for Shooting Panoramas

Shooting panoramas is something I have done a little bit of now. It allows you to really get some great large images, without having a super expensive camera or lenses. Some tips I’ve found from experience.

  • Avoid Parallax – Landscapes work best, where most of the image is at infinity focus or close to it. This avoids parallax error. (see here for a good article about parallax error)
  • Camera Orientation – Shoot with the camera in portrait orientation when doing a landscape orientation panorama, this gives a much better final image, not too wide for the height. With a portrait orientation panorama, shoot with the camera in landscape orientation.
  • Manual Exposure – Set the camera on manual mode, so all shots will be at the same ISO / shutter / aperture. You can use another auto mode to get the required exposure for the panorama. Pick the point in the panorama which will be brightest, and use the exposure information to guide your manual settings.
  • White Balance – If shooting JPG also set the white balance (dont use Auto white balance) so that the white balance is the same for all the shots (if you shoot RAW then make sure you set the white balance to the same for all shots before you merge the panorama).
  • Overlap! – Make sure you overlap shots by plenty. Better to have too many photos to stitch than having gaps. I aim for about 50% overlap. To do this when you compose the next shot in the sequence, have something that was at the very edge of the previous frame, and move it to the centre of the next.
  • Shoot Extra – Go extra around the edges. Dont stop where you want the final cropped panorama to finish. When correcting distortion you can often lose parts of the edges of the image. So go an extra row if you are doing a multiple row panorama, and go for an extra shot at either end of what you would like to show in the final image.
  • Manual Focus – Make sure the camera is set to manual focus. By all means use autofocus to get the correct focus, but then switch to manual. This will make sure the focus doesnt change between shots.

Thats all I can think of just at the moment, I’ll add more if I think of them! :)

Good luck panorama shooting.