Panorama images consist of many photos stitched together to make one (usually) super large image – larger in field of view, that what a single shot would capture. There are many different styles of panorama photos.
We want to shoot EQUIRECTANGULAR PANORAMA PHOTOS. These images have coverage of 360 degrees by 180 degrees. Using these types of panos, we can manipulate them to create our 360 movies, little planets, and very cool flat photos like the one above!
You can also shoot 360 degree panos and not worry about the top and bottom of your image. These panos make great photos in their own right, but you won’t be able to do all the cool stuff with them.
Once you have shot your images in a 360 by 180 view, we will “project” them. Projections are a way of displaying your shots to see various views. Think of maps. Map projections are just ways to display curved information (data about the Earth – a sphere) on a flat surface, to convey a concept.
Check out the shape of Canada (In the blue circle) in the map above. It looks pretty small compared to the USA. Now look at Canada in the map below:
Canada and Greenland look way bigger than the USA! It’s because of the way the image is PROJECTED. Once you have your images shot and stitched, we will project them, just like a map! The software will do the heavy lifting for us, thankfully.
But we won’t project your images onto a map, we’ll project them as a sphere. More like a globe, actually. Think in 3 dimensions! If you’re into the technicalities of projections, here’s a great page about panoramic projections.
So where do we start making our panorama? Shooting a series of images and stitching them together to make one BIG image is the first step. Simply put, you shoot a sequence of photos, that over lap each other and “stitch” them in software to create your panoramic image.
These images were shot with a 10.5 mm Nikon full frame fisheye lens, that’s why they look a bit distorted and “bendy.” If you don’t have a fisheye lens, your image array will look at little different, and you’ll have to shoot more images to cover the 360 view.
With a 10.5 mm lens, shooting vertically, in “portrait” you’ll need a measly 6 shots (overlapping about each by 20%). The overlap is necessary so the stitching software has points it can match, from image to image – called control points.
If you have a different lens, you may end up taking several ROWS of images to cover the full 180 degrees from top to bottom.
So you now may also have figured out that a tripod may be a handy tool! And you are right! While it is possible to make panoramics handheld, you will have astoundingly fast and easy panos using a tripod and a special pano head.
OK, now that we understand what we are going to do, what is the best way to do it – let’s find out HOW exactly to shoot a series of panorama shots.