Saturday, 18 February 2012

Panoramic Photography

Panoramic photographs are created using a technique within photography that uses editing software like Photoshop, to capture images with elongated fields of view. This means that photographers can capture images with a field of view of up to 360 degrees. The technique of creating these photographs is very simple and yet can produce some really impressive images.

If you want to know how to create your very own panoramic photographs, there is a step-by-step guide included within this blog post.

Here are my panoramas that I produced for my panoramic project:

Click on the images to enlarge them.

View from `The De La Warr Pavilion` - Douglas Benge
This panoramic photograph that I have taken depicts the view out to sea from the grounds in front of `The De La Warr Pavilion`. It was produced from a total of nine shots, all taken with my camera in the portrait position. The subjects composed on the left and right hand side of the photograph, are Bexhill’s promenade domes, as the promenade runs along the seaside and passes in front of `The De La Warr Pavilion`. The other prominent subjects within this image are the three flags that appear in colour in this photograph, creating a more interesting and engaging image. The flag that is in the centre of the image, creates a strong and dramatic contrast to the dark and gloomy sky that is situated behind it. This creates a very powerful focal point to the image and really helps the flag to stand out. This is a wide angle panorama which probably has a field of view of around 160 degrees. In a way, it is the emptiness within this photograph that makes it so powerful as a panorama; it allows thinking space for the viewer and creates a more focused image, as the subjects in the photograph frame and focus your attention to the flag that is standing along in the centre of the scene. After I edited the image into grey-scale in Photoshop, I used the `Burn Tool` to darken certain areas of the sky and also used the `Dodge Tool` to lighten areas of the sky. I used these tools to create a really moody backdrop to the panorama, as the original sky featured in the photograph wasn’t very dramatic or contrasting at all. I think I succeeded in creating this moody and atmospheric effect.

Wallers Haven - Douglas Benge
This panorama depicts a section of the river `Wallers Haven`. It was produced from a total of seven photographs, all taken with my camera in the portrait position. I chose this river as the subject for one of my panoramas, as I thought it would be really interesting to capture the full length of this particular section of the river, in just one panoramic photograph. I have managed to do this and have consequently produced a panoramic image with a field of view of around 175 degrees. The river is the focal point of the photograph and creates an eye-line to the image, as we firstly look to the top of the river, the furthest left point of the image, before following the river through the photograph to the furthest right point of the image, where the river disappears out of view. This eye-line creates an engaging photograph. I edited the colours within this photograph by adjusting the saturation level of the image. I recognised that the unedited version of this panorama, had colours and tones that would work well if I were to brighten them up and increase the vividness of them. By adjusting the saturation level, I have produced an image that is strong in colour tone and has a beautiful colour palette, from the blues to the greens to the yellows etc.

The De La Warr Pavilion - Douglas Benge
This panoramic photograph that I have taken depicts `The De La Warr Pavilion`, a grade one listed modernist building that houses a contemporary art gallery and auditorium. I produced this image from a total of six photographs, all taken with my camera in the portrait position, to help create a taller panorama. I have framed this image so that `The De La Warr Pavilion` is the focal point, as it is situated in the centre of the image and stretches out to the left and to the right side of the photograph. After I had created my panorama in Photoshop, and was happy with the stitching that had taken place, I edited the image into looking like an `old fashioned` photograph. I really love creating images that look as if they were taken using an old fashioned camera, and look like they have been developed as an old photograph would have been developed. To create the `old fashioned` effect that I was looking for, I edited the image into grey-scale and increased the contrast levels of the image, to produce a panorama with deeper black tones. I then created a new layer and placed a scratched texture onto this layer; I used this scratched texture to try and replicate an old scratched negative film. I then created another layer and placed a glass plate negative texture onto it. I added this texture to the photograph as I wanted to try and create the illusion that the photograph had been developed in a darkroom, as this was the old fashioned way of developing images. Finally, I added a vignette to my image, to create a subtle frame around the photograph.

How to Create a Panorama 

To create beautiful panoramic photographs, you may think that you need lots of expensive camera equipment and editing software, but I can assure you that the process to producing a panorama is not as difficult or expensive as you think. The basic principle to photographing a panorama can be summed up in these simple steps:

  • Firstly, choose something to photograph, for example, let’s say you want to photograph a landscape scene
  • You would then set your camera to `Manual` mode and would take some photographs until you found the correct exposure level for the scene. You need to use `Manual` mode as when you produce a panoramic image, you need to take a number of different shots; by taking them on `Manual` mode, you take the images with the same exposure level, ensuring that the photographs can easily be stitched together in Photoshop later. If you were to use `Auto` mode to take the shots, your camera would adjust the exposure level for each photograph without your control, meaning that when you came to stitch the photographs together, your final image wouldn't look like one photograph, you would be able to see that you produced it from however many shots
  • Once the settings on your camera are ready, you can begin to take your photographs. It is best to take panoramas holding the camera in the portrait position, as you will get a taller and deeper image than if you were going to photograph your scene with the camera in the landscape position
  • If you have a steady hand, you can take your images without the use of a tripod, but it is probably better to use a tripod to produce really level photographs that can be stitched together more easily in Photoshop
  • Now your camera is set up on the tripod in the portrait position, work out where the beginning point and end point of your panorama is going to be. Then, pan round between these points and make sure that everything is level within the frame
  • You can now head back over to the beginning point of your panorama and can frame up and take the first photograph. When you have taken this photograph, if you are going to pan from left to right to take your next image, in your head you need to divide your image into five vertical sections, then, look at the last section, the last fifth, and remember a subject that is within that section
  • Now, move your camera around to the right so that the subject that was in the last fifth is now in the first fifth. This is basically ensuring that overlapping is occurring when you are taking your images. This is important as you do not want to crop anything out when taking your photographs, otherwise, there will be a noticeable gap in your final panorama
  • Once you have taken this image, you do exactly as you did for the last image you took: remember a subject that is in the last fifth of your image, move the camera round to the right, making sure that the subject you remembered is now in the first fifth of your frame. You keep following this process until you reach the end point of your panoramic scene
  • Now you can go into Photoshop and can begin to stitch your images together.

There are many tutorial videos on `YouTube` explaining how to use Photoshop to create a panoramic photograph, just type in: `How to Create a Panorama in Photoshop`.

Top Tip:
`When taking the individual photographs that will make up your panorama, make sure that your lens is slightly zoomed in. This will ensure that there is no geometric distortion within your images, as this will make it difficult to stitch the images together in Photoshop.  
If you have a standard 18mm-55mm lens for your Digital SLR camera, adjust the lens so that it is set on the 24mm mark; this amount of zoom should prevent this distortion from occurring within your images.`

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