PANORAMA PHOTOGRAPHY TUTORIALS – HOW TO SHOOT PANOS
How to shoot panoramics is part 2 of the “How to” panorama tutorials. If you’ve just landed here be sure to check out all the tutorials on the right. They pretty much go in order, each one builds on the previous one, so if you are brand new to panorama photography, better start at the beginning.
Shooting Panorama images…
…requires that you shoot several images of a scene, around a central point, with each one overlapping by a little bit – usually 20-30%.
Best to use a tripod and a special pano head to help eliminate parallax. If you are shooting far off landscapes, you can easily shoot handheld, and not worry about the parallax issue. But if you are in close quarters, or inside your favourite abandoned building, you’ll really do better and have more fun with a tripod and pano head. Read why I love my Nodal Ninja Pano head here.
Jim Divitale, Photoshop guru extrordinare also told a bunch of us at the PPOC convention in Winnipeg to start your panorama series with a shot of your feet, and when you’re finished, take another shot of your feet. This way your series is “bookended” by your feet and you’ll know which images belong to which series.
This is by far the best info I have been given about panorama photography! Seriously. When you’re out in the field, shooting panos all day, once you get back to you computer, you will have no recollection of where one set starts and the other ends. the feet shots save you a ton of time, and frustration.
Let’s assume here, you are not using your tripod. Here is the set up and process:
- To reduce the number of shots use the widest wide angle lens you have.
- Shoot portrait, not landscape for max vertical coverage.
- Make sure each photo overlaps the previous one by about 15%-20%.
- Rotate around the point where the light enters the lens rather than around your body.
- Keep the lens in the same position, but rotate it around.
- Camera set to aperture priority.
- Set your white balance manually.
- Make sure the exposures between shots is no more than +/-2 EV
- Shoot one shot straight up at the sky or ceiling (zenith)
- If you can, take a shot of the ground, (not including your feet) to help you fill in the hole – nadir – (more about this in the post production tutorial)
The exact number of shots you’ll need depends on the angle of view of your lens – the wider it is the fewer shots you need. With some lenses you’d need 10 shots to make the full 360 degrees facing slightly down, another 10 facing slightly up, then one for the nadir, 21 in total.
With my Nikon D300 and 10.5 mm fisheye I need 6 for the full 360 degrees and one for the nadir and one for the zenith, 8 in total. You can find more on setting up for handhelp panoramas here.
If you’re using a tripod and pano head, your set up and shooting technique will be the same, but obviously you won’t have to worry about holding your camera steady, or figure out how to rotate it correctly.
If you are using a specialized panorama tripod head, you won’t even have to do the math. You set the pano head for the lens you will be using, and it automatically tells you when to stop rotating to take your shot. It also automatically adds the overlap as well. It’s become a standard tool for me – always on my tripod. You just never know when you find a great 360 scene.