Pano's

Cameras, tripods, techniques, etc.
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Pano's

Postby samh » Thu 30 Jul, 2009 5:17 pm

HI all,
I've seen a few pano's on the forum, and I myself enjoy doing that sort of stuff. I usually take the photos for my pano's hand-held, so it does not always work out 100 % sometimes not at all. That is sometimes annoying because I could have spent the time taking a few normal good shots. So I wonder what do you do to enssure that the pano works out, and do you use any tripod probably even with a pano head? What are your experiences and tips. Another question is how many rows of photos do you take, are you shooting landscape or portrait format?

THX
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Re: Pano's

Postby eggs » Thu 30 Jul, 2009 5:56 pm

Sam,

no doubt some will add more - but you may like to check out an existing thread:
http://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=816

I myself now use Photoshop CS3 panorama stitching - but I am lucky to have access to this.
There are still tricks to getting it to match correctly.
Most often there are small vertical displacements which I remove by cropping the final image.
I am trying to improve the discipline of taking each photo with the same settings - to avoid colour variations at the stitching points.
I have not used any inbuilt camera feature [not sure if mine has them?]
Generally I am only taking a single layer as they are landscape views I am stitching.

cf a recent one from the Gammons in SA
3026SteadmansViewtoRangeSm.jpg
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Re: Pano's

Postby the_camera_poser » Thu 30 Jul, 2009 8:32 pm

I use CS3 or another program- freeware, called Emblend, with Hugin 3.0 (a plug in). CS3 is easier- Emblend is a time-consuming, but gives better results IMHO. Make sure you set your camera, including the white balance, to full manual, otherwise you'll get too much variable in the exposures. Find the brightest part of the scene, and using that part take sample shots and check the over-exposure warning on your LCD. The best exposuse will be where very little is blown-out. Then use that setting for the whole series.

With the camera on manual focus, find a point of focus is that in the infinity focus range (you can check this on the barrel of your lens) and then, while in that range, make sure the important parts of of the shot are all in focus. I have crappy eyes, so I use my camera's autofocus/focus-confirmation system for this (I set the camera into manual focus, and then point the camera at various points in the scene, and see what focus points light up when I partially depress the shutter.)

When I take the shots, I keep in mind that I am going to be cropping out upto 1/3-1/2 of the shots, so I make sure to keep the actual scene I want well into the picture. Otherwise you end up chopping out valueable bits of your shot. I'll start way on the side- about 1/2 of a frame past where I want my final photo to cover, and then I take my photos, overlapping each one by around 30%. I put my hand in front of the lens and take a shot at the beginnig and end of the series.

A few hints- be fast when you do it- quick-moving clouds and blowing trees can throw your sttiching out, as can wave patterns in water or waves on the beach.

A tripod helps too.

I don't know where you are, but if you want to pop over sometime when I'm out taking photos, I'll show you how I do it.
Last edited by the_camera_poser on Fri 09 Oct, 2009 7:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pano's

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 30 Jul, 2009 8:38 pm

I'm not much of a photographer but I also use Hugin with emblend for photo stitching. They are freeware and available for a wider range of platforms than the commercial products. Some builds of Hugin can do everything for you fully automated but also gives you the option to specify the stitch points yourself (along with dozens of other settings) for brilliant results.
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Re: Pano's

Postby the_camera_poser » Thu 30 Jul, 2009 8:49 pm

Yeah- don't tihnk you need CS3 to do a good pano- I use Hugin/Emblend for tricky ones or ones I want to print out big.
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Re: Pano's

Postby samh » Thu 30 Jul, 2009 8:59 pm

I usually use Hugin as well with autopano and enblend. which mostly works fine. I know that I should use manual settings, but as I shot in RAW the withbalance is not a big problem. With using a tripod I had problems with objects which are closer to the camera. The main problem I find is the exposure when there are drastic differences, like very bright spots.
Here an example
forth.jpg

An amazing site with 360° panos is this one sorry it's in german, but pictures say more than 1000 words :D
Last edited by samh on Thu 30 Jul, 2009 10:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Pano's

Postby the_camera_poser » Thu 30 Jul, 2009 9:39 pm

with that one- make sure the shots to the left of the scene are properly exposed, and then use your post-processing software to bring detail out of the shadows that result in the right side of the shot. Or, try and avoid the sun :-)
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Re: Pano's

Postby samh » Thu 30 Jul, 2009 10:17 pm

When using Hugin and emblend, do you set the control points manually or automatically? I find the problem with Hugin is that you cannot create the pano with layers for later adjustment that would be even better
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Re: Pano's

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 31 Jul, 2009 10:37 am

I usually let Hugin set the points automatically (this might require a module that been built into the version I use?). But sometimes it doesn't get it quite right, in which case I can set the control points manually. So you can have the best of both worlds.

With the distribution of Hugin that I use, you can make as many adjustments as you want. You save it as a Hugin project document, rather than as a finished image (or as well as), and you can go back and make as many changes as you want, and re-export the finished image as many times as you like.
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Re: Pano's

Postby samh » Fri 31 Jul, 2009 1:56 pm

@ SOB
What I meant witht he layers was that it would be good to be able to export the stiched image with layers for later editing in Photoshop. I actually just downloaded the newest version of hugin 0.8.0 from 17 July 2009 and it has some new features which come in handy. Especially the automatic adjustment of the exposure works better. Also there are new projection options, so I got already some nicer results than before.
What I was originally more interested in is, what do you do beforehand when you take the photos to make sure that it will be easy to stich on the computer.
@ Thecameraposer
What did you actually mean with putting your hands in front of the lens?
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Re: Pano's

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 31 Jul, 2009 2:32 pm

I see what you mean. I guess it would be technically possible. The images would have to be blended with transparency rather than with each other, but the calculation for transparency for each pixel would have to be done as if it was being blended with the other image. Interesting idea. Is this how CS3 does it?

For now, I think each picture has to be manipulated in GIMP or Photoshop first and stitched last.

I think the hand in front of lense is merely a marker to show which images are first and last in the series?
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Re: Pano's

Postby walkinTas » Mon 14 Sep, 2009 5:25 am

samh wrote:What I was originally more interested in is, what do you do beforehand when you take the photos to make sure that it will be easy to stitch on the computer.
I'm not sure if Sam got the answers he wanted, but since I'm interested I thought I would post some of my thought on the subject and listen to what others have to say on the topic.

Ok, there are the photos I take, then there are really good photos, and then there are exhibition quality photos and then there is Dombrovskis. My mission is to reach good some time soon.

Presuming we have the camera, then I figure the next piece of equipment is a tripod. A tripod allows one to use manual settings on the camera, or shutter priority or aperture priority. All impossible with a hand-held camera. It also helps to get/keep the horizon level (a tasadam essential). I have a basic light-weight tripod.

Next is a really good lens. Good glass is expensive, so I have a mediocre lens on my camera. I have an 18-180 lens, but sometimes the 18 is a little bit long. An 11-22mm would be nice. :Sigh:

Next and just as expensive as the tripod is a ball head (high on my list of priorities). For excellent panorama shots it is important be able to level both the tripod and and the tripod head. This way one can pan 360° and stay perfectly level. Something I can't do with the standard head on my tripod because even when the tripod itself is level the head isn't.

The next piece of equipment is a focus rail to help with parallax errors. I use a simple focus rail which I bought off ebay. Ok, probably not essential because the software will compensate, but my aim is to get to good and my dream is to get to exhibition level - Sshhh, we are all allowed to dream :)

Finally, it would be nice to be able to put the camera on its side and get depth into the panoramas (something beyond my current setup). So I figure the last bit of equipment is an L bracket.

Maybe I should just buy CS3 and move straight to Dombrovskis. :P :lol: But I remember someone once telling me "you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear". :wink:
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Re: Pano's

Postby bcshort » Mon 14 Sep, 2009 8:47 am

I Don't think it's been mentioned here...

A lot of people. including me, swear (in a good way) by using a 50mm Lens for taking panoramas. Reasoning for this is that wider angle the lens, the more likely there will be barrel distortion as the circular image from the lens gets transformed into something rectilinear for the sensor. This is why depending on your stitching software, the images will "Bulge" more at wider angles.

Depending on how you shoot the image, the bulges & angle will result far less of the image being cropped than you would like at wider angles.

Hope this helps :) If people are interested, I'll post some screenshots of what I mean when I get home.
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Re: Pano's

Postby walkinTas » Wed 16 Sep, 2009 5:27 am

bcshort wrote:If people are interested, I'll post some screenshots of what I mean when I get home.
Yes please.
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Re: Pano's

Postby bcshort » Wed 16 Sep, 2009 6:13 pm

walkinTas wrote:
bcshort wrote:If people are interested, I'll post some screenshots of what I mean when I get home.
Yes please.


Ask and you shall receive :) decided to make a blog post about it seeing it may be of general interest.

http://www.benshortphotography.com/2009 ... l-lengths/
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Re: Pano's

Postby Ent » Thu 17 Sep, 2009 11:44 am

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Re: Pano's

Postby samh » Tue 22 Sep, 2009 5:26 pm

Hi all again,
I've been away for a few weeks and haven't realised how far the topic had developed, great to see. thank's to bcshort, thats a great article. Got a question though; to have the same FOV like with a 18 mm lens you would have to shoot maybe two or three rows of photos, have you tried that with any success that would really interest me.
@ walkinTas I see your point and I agree on the things you said, but when I go bushwalking I do not want to carry all that stuff, sure I cannot expect the same results, but that's not the question. I'd like to get the best possible result without having to bring additional gear. BTW what lens is it you are using? I shoot with Nikon and ruined my 18-125mm lens and look for something new now, any suggestions?
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Re: Pano's

Postby tasadam » Tue 22 Sep, 2009 6:52 pm

bcshort wrote:A lot of people. including me, swear (in a good way) by using a 50mm Lens for taking panoramas.

I thought it would be good to dig THIS up from my archives. Not my photo, but I had the detail in an email and this reminded me.
It's a panorama of 12 images from a 50mm lens.
From the photographer -
I actually took about 28 shots but only used 12.
I used the 50/1.4 for this. Absolutely the best lens ever for panoramas, virtual no barrel distortion so stitching photos together is a breeze.
I took about 9 shots horizontal panning across the bottom of the water fall, similar number panning thru middle then similar number thru the top.
I didn't use the middle shots as there was enough overlap with the top/bottom shots.
I dropped a few out of the top and bottom section where there was sufficient overlap.
Then stitched the top lot.
Then stitched the bottom lot.
Then rotated the two stitched shots thru 90 degrees and stitched them.
I use Panorama Factory for this. I find it easier to use and gives a better result than Photoshop's inbuilt photo merge.
The really great thing about pano factory is that you can save the output as a Photoshop PSD file with each photo in a separate layer. So if the stitching wasn't quite right, you can correct the result by manipulating the layers.
Taking panos of waterfalls is actually quite tricky because there is always wind blowing the vegetation around. I think it's caused by the motion of the water. Ferns bounce around like crazy making stitching a challenge, but that's when the layer manipulation helps.

There are other techniques for panos. Obvious one is tripod is essential. Then you set the focus and metering up on one part of the shot and then go totally manual. No AF and no A, P, S, just M metering. And you shoot it raw. That way, every image is exposed and focussed exactly the same and the stitching process works well. After you are comfortable fine tuning the stitching, you can try fiddling with the focus and exposure on individual images, but it's darn tricky.
On top of those tips I would recommend setting the white balance manually as well, though shooting in RAW this can be done in photoshop later.
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Re: Pano's

Postby bcshort » Tue 22 Sep, 2009 7:59 pm

Hi Sam,

I really can't add to what tasadam said there - definitely possible, but never tried myself. I did try to do it once, before I had my 50mm lens, and needless to say the level of barrel distortion made it a wasted effort.
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Re: Pano's

Postby samh » Tue 22 Sep, 2009 8:27 pm

thanks tasadam that certainly shows that it can be done. I still have a 50mm 1.8 somewhere so I can give it a try. Does anyone have suggestions on a new lens for my Nikon. I'm looking for something covering a range like 18-125 or so I think the 18-200mm is a bit overkill but I'm willing to be taught otherwise. Has anyone experience with the 16-85mm Nikkor?
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Re: Pano's

Postby tasadam » Tue 22 Sep, 2009 10:27 pm

Lens choice - sounds like a good subject for a new topic, why not start one about Nikon lenses and I will see what I can come up with.
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Re: Pano's

Postby walkinTas » Wed 23 Sep, 2009 6:02 am

samh wrote:BTW what lens is it you are using? I shoot with Nikon and ruined my 18-125mm lens and look for something new now, any suggestions?
I use an Olympus, so I'm limited to a 4/3 lens. My latest purchase was a Zuiko 18-180mm lens.

Since I'm still on my "L" plates, my list isn't meant to be the ultimate solution or any thing close. I posted that list with the hope some of the photographers might comment on what equipment they took and what they thought was necessary. I like the comments about the 50 mm lens. I have a few panos taken at that length and the best thing about such photos is the pixel density allows larger prints.
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