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Photo stitching - Quick tutorial

Blog: #3 of 4 by Patrick Jacquet

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March 25th, 2013 - 01:41 PM

Let’s come back to photo stitching technique…

In my previous post, I was introducing the main benefits coming with this technique. I will now introduce the main parameters you need to consider when shooting.

Tripod or not tripod ? That is the question…

The good news is… that you don’t always need a tripod (like in my example). So you can start testing this technique with your DSLR camera only… It also works with compact cameras ! Of course there are (a lot) of scenarios for which having a tripod and a specific pano head will be mandatory !

Horizontal or vertical shooting ?

Most of the time, I would recommend shooting in vertical mode. Go back to my example… with 5 to 7 pictures, the result image comes with a reasonable ratio (2:1). Using horizontal mode, the result would have been a picture with an outstanding ratio, 4:1 or 5:1 (or more) which is not always very nice. However, if you plan to go for a vertical pano, then, you can think about horizontal shooting !

Overlapping :

If you want to facilitate stitching process done by the software, you will have to think about 15-25% overlap between each picture. The smaller your focal length is, the higher the overlap ratio should be…

Focal length… which one ?

It’s up to you ! The higher focal length is, the higher number of shots you’ll need in order to capture the scene… and the higher the result image resolution will be !
If you’re new with this technique, you can start shooting 3 to 5 images in order to get the favour of it.

My example shows one row of 5 pictures, depending on focal length, I may have to shoot multiple rows of multiple shots…

Nodal Point… what’s that ?

To keep it simple, let’s see that as the ideal point around which the camera shoot rotate in order to avoid parallax issue between pictures. This parallax may quickly become a big issue if you have a very close foreground. This is the kind of situation where you will need a tripod and a pano head… If you don’t have a close foreground, then you may skip the tripod as parallax issue will become less important.

Having said that, you already have good chance to get a pretty good results… Let’s go deeper…

Shooting parameters :

Ideally speaking, here are additional recommendations you should follow :

- Do the focus once. Don’t change focus between each shot
- Don’t change focal length. Keep the same for all shots
- Automatic white balance is fine. This could be changed and fixed only for very complex scenes
- Shoot in RAW mode when possible

Top of the top… shoot in manual mode !

That’s probably the most difficult piece as you may capture a very large scene having large dynamic constraints from dark to bright areas… You need to determine the best exposure for the entire scene, then manually fix aperture and speed values.

You’ll understand pretty quickly why I’m also combining photo stitching technique with HDR one !

Back to your computer…

There are a lot of stitching software, I let you Google search. One of the well-known one is Kolor Autopano Giga that I’ve being using for couple of years now.

Ouch… that was a long story !
I hope I wasn’t too technical !

Feel free to comment if you have questions or additional points you would like me to clarify.

Cheers

Photo stitching - Quick tutorial

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04/02/2013

11:36 AM

Cincinnati, Oh

Nice info... Wish there is Facebook share button ... Many would appreciated

05/04/2013

10:09 AM

Winder, GA

Great info...thanks for sharing...I have been using HD and Panoram too but I had a V8 moment when you suggested verticle. Thanks so much. I have been do 5 HD's. I read that 3 work with a -2 and +2. Is that what you use?

05/08/2013

08:34 AM

St Genis Pouilly, Ain

Hi Penny, Thanks for your feedback. 90% of the time 3 shots work fine with HD. However I would use -2 - 0 - +2 only when there are really high contrasts between dark and bright. Most of the time, I'm using -1 - 0 - +1 or -1 1/3 - 0 - +1 1/3 For very high contrasts, I go for 5 or even 7 shots... Cheers

12/06/2013

04:01 PM

Philadelphia, PA

Your tutorial is spot on. My photos are 100% stitch. Single RAW is boring to me. I have done that HDR panorama. What I am trying to do now is to push it like 100 second exposure photos and 10 stitch.

03/12/2014

03:23 AM

St Genis Pouilly, Ain

8 pictures for this one... Sunset light over Mt Blanc

04/03/2014

03:44 PM

St Genis Pouilly, Ain

11 stitched pictures for this square version Art Prints

05/15/2014

08:13 AM

St Genis Pouilly, Ain

Complex image combining long exposure, HDR and photo stitching technique - 18 pictures for this one Art Prints

05/28/2014

03:50 PM

St Genis Pouilly, Ain

18 pictures for this one Art Prints

08/26/2014

04:59 PM

St Genis Pouilly, Ain

Art Prints 81 pictures !