Panoramic Photography

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Panoramic Photography

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:46 am

Afternoon All,

Thought I would advance my photography skills a touch further with my Pentax K-X SLR camera, and try creating some panoramic shots. I've been taking professional quality photo's for many years, but found this a bit of a struggle. My first effort is below, so please rate it (and open it in a new window - The file's pretty large). It's not perfect, and even on my i7 950, photo stitching this image took a pretty long time.

http://dl1.mtmuk.co.uk/Emerson_Valley_Panoramic_V2.jpg

Main reason for posting it here is to try and pick up a few tips along the way really, as loads of TR users appear to be into this too. For example, best practices for taking the pics in sequence etc, and how to avoid certain things distorting (look closely in the image above, and all it's not as it appears where the silver cars and some trees are concerned). Also, what software is recommended? I'm currently using a trial of the 64-Bit version Panorama Factory. It's ok, but it's no Photoshop...
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Re: Panoramic Photography

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:11 pm

thats a cool photo! almost makes it look fake because the buildings are so bright. whats that big hangar looking building in the distance? looks like it could be a convention center or something.
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Re: Panoramic Photography

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:44 pm

Glad you like the photo - The building's (and grass) look to bright because I had to adjust contrast, saturation and brightness between pictures to get the lighting and colors the same across all of the images. It would be really obvious in some pics that it was a different image otherwise. Still need to get better at that...

Good spot on the building in the background to. From the air, it looks like a giant half-pipe just sticking out of the ground. Thankfully, it's much more fun than a convention centre. The building is called Xscape, and it's huge. Inside is a real snow ski slope, an indoor free-fall flight simulator (Called AitKix), and Europe's largest climbing wall to name a few. It's also filled with up-market restaurants and shops. It's pretty cool - I spend a fair bit of time (and money!) in there.

It's off-topic, but they have a website here if your interested:
http://www.xscape.co.uk/milton-keynes

My house is in the row of houses right at the front of the pic, so it's not to far to get to the above from here! Finally, to clear up any confusion for those not familiar with how we do things here (someone's asked already!), Emerson Valley is the name of the estate in Milton Keynes that I live in. No, the name is not made up :lol:
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Re: Panoramic Photography

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:12 pm

Well, I don't take many panoramas but my gut feeling for a consistent exposure would be to lock your aperture and shutter across shots. It's not going to produce great results across shots with varying contrast though. Perhaps taking HDR composites would do the trick? I forget if the k-x has a built in HDR function though (the k-7 does though), but it's not too hard to do by hand in Photoshop or the other HDR tools.
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Re: Panoramic Photography

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:40 pm

Right... Taking that onboard, I went out and took a series of shots of a lake nearby. Stuck the camera into manual mode, fixed the Shutter Speed, ISO and F-Stop. Every image was then edited in Photoshop CS3 to correct slight differences in contrast and saturation, as the sunlight was constantly changing. Here's a thumbnail:
Image

Right click and "Save As" to download the full high-res version (Warning!!! File is 14.7MB):
http://dl1.mtmuk.co.uk/Furzton_Lake_Panoramic_V4.jpg

Edit: As Per Feedback from FireGryphon, the above image is also available with color levels adjusted (Brighter - Approx 7MB):
http://dl1.mtmuk.co.uk/Furzton_Lake_Panoramic_V4_1.jpg

For those interested, Shutter speed was 1/60 (Except for shots into direct sunlight - 1/500 was used on 2 frames), ISO 100 and F-Stop 5.4. It's fair to say this is a LOT better than my 1st effort. In the interests of improving my own ability (and general feedback), please feel free to D/L the high-res file and look at it at 100% zoom and let us know your thoughts. Again, it's not perfect, but the difference over my first effort is huge IMO...
Last edited by geekl33tgamer on Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Panoramic Photography

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 4:41 pm

For the first pic: When you do photo stitching you need to lock exposure from one picture to the other, and keep in mind that on most lenses, there's light falloff as you go from the center of the image to its extremes. That's partly what causes the seams to be visible in smooth gradients like the sky, in your image. The high contrast in your image is a bit harsh, but overall it's good. Keep workin' on it, and keep posting pics.

For second pic: Now that's a wide panorama! The seams in the sky are still visible, but it's better than the first pic. Overall, the view isn't too exciting, but keep posting, 'cause sooner or later you'll shoot a winner, and given your technique now, it'll be spectacular. Part of the reason for this pic being lackluster is the face that it was shot into the sun, which pretty much killed the dynamic range and made everything in the pic very dark and colorless.
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Re: Panoramic Photography

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:03 pm

Thanks for the feedback. Hopefully practice with how the software works will remove the slight splits you can see in the sky. The lenses defiantly do have light fade at the outer extremes, but I guess some more expensive lenses can overcome this? Never noticed it before with single shot photography, so it may not be worth it (depends on how many of these I do tho!).

Feedback also noted on the color levels. It was getting dark, and I am all to aware what happens shooting into the sun. Tried adjusting the shutter speed to compensate, but without a filter over the lens it was a bit hopeless. I will try and get back to that spot on Saturday in the morning so the sun is behind me (As long as the weather stays good, this is the UK after all). In the meantime, I have tried to artificially brighten up the image in Photoshop:
http://dl1.mtmuk.co.uk/Furzton_Lake_Panoramic_V4_1.jpg (Also added to my post above).

May not be better, depends on personal preference. It does bring out some of the detail though.
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