Taking Panoramic Landscapes – The Easy Solution

I really like panoramas. There’s one thing very interesting about their form. It is in all probability as a result of we see the world extra in these dimensions than the close to sq. format of normal movie/sensor frames. It may also clarify the upsurge within the recognition of widescreen TVs!

Panoramas have a fame of being laborious to take. There are devoted panorama cameras obtainable however except you have received a minimum of a thousand dollars to spare, you in all probability cannot afford one! However you’ll be able to take panoramas with any type of digital camera.

All a panorama is, is a sequence of pictures the place you flip barely for every completely different body. Within the outdated days, earlier than PCs and the likes of Photoshop had been round, you’d take your prints (there wasn’t a lot level in capturing panoramas on slide movie, for apparent causes), lay them out on a desk and place them over one another the place they overlapped. A little bit of sticky tape held them collectively. [As a side note, this technique was used by NASA to build up mosaic pictures of the planets and satellites their spaceprobes visited, up till the late ’70s/early 80s when computers were introduced to make the process less laborious].

Now that PCs and picture manipulation packages are straightforward to come back by, high-quality panoramas can now be created by anybody. If you happen to’re capturing slide or detrimental movie, you will want to have your pictures scanned earlier than you do the rest.

DIY Panoramas

The concept behind taking panoramas with SLR cameras is that the digital camera is rotated round its nodal level throughout every successive publicity. What is the Nodal Level? It is the purpose inside your digital camera the place the sunshine rays converge and flip over. It is completely different for various focal lengths (on zoom lenses) and for various prime lenses (fastened focal size lenses like an ordinary 50mm lens). It is essential to rotate about this level to remove picture mismatches as a result of modifications in parallax. Parallax is the obvious shift of an object towards a background as a result of a change in observer place.

Simply to be clear, the Nodal Level shouldn’t be the identical because the movie/sensor airplane. Typically, for many SLR cameras and lenses, the Nodal Level is positioned someplace in the direction of the middle of the lens barrel and lies in entrance of the picture/sensor airplane.

The Drawback With Parallax

Parallax is well demonstrated by a easy experiment. Maintain up your finger about 1 foot in entrance of your face and alternately open and shut your left and proper eyes. You may discover that your finger shifts left and proper with respect to the background relying on which eye is open. Attempt one other experiment: Together with your finger nonetheless raised, shut one eye and switch your head backward and forward. Discover how your finger strikes with respect to the background. This relative motion is because of the truth that you are not rotating your head round your eye’s nodal level, which is someplace within the middle of your eyeball. As a substitute, you are rotating about your backbone which is a number of inches to the rear and off to at least one aspect. It’s this relative side-to-side movement that we attempt to remove when establishing a digital camera for panoramas. [If you want to read up more about parallax, Wikipedia have a good explanatory article.]

Now, for those who contemplate a digital camera held as much as your face – it would undergo even larger parallax errors because it’s farther out of your backbone (the purpose of rotation of your head) than your eye. It is surprisingly widespread for individuals to take panoramas on this style after which discover the person footage do not match up.

So use a tripod and rotate the digital camera on the tripod. The parallax errors shall be considerably smaller however there’ll nonetheless be some error concerned. Nevertheless, the pictures will match up higher than with the top rotation technique.

Mechanical Contraptions

What perfectionists attempt for is to have the digital camera rotate concerning the nodal level. There are brackets and contraptions obtainable that can allow you to offset your digital camera from the tripod’s axis of rotation and with a little bit experimentation and trial and error, you’ll be able to place your digital camera in order that its nodal level is instantly over the axis of rotation of the bracket. Getting this spot-on means your pictures ought to line up completely.

A number of months in the past I purchased such a bracket – the Kaidan Kiwi. This is available in two halves which produce an L-shaped bracket. Its instruction guide explains methods to set it up and discover the nodal level on your digital camera and lens. Nevertheless, it’s a must to get your tripod completely degree earlier than utilizing it, in any other case you find yourself with a curved panorama relatively than a straight one.

I’ve had good success utilizing this bracket, however it’s giant and heavy and definitely a bit too cumbersome to be carrying on lengthy walks or whereas away on trip.

AutoStitch To The Rescue

Then I lately got here throughout a free little bit of software program referred to as AutoStitch. Written by a few college students on the College of Columbia, this takes all the heartache out of making panoramas. All you do is choose the dimensions of the ultimate picture and inform it what pictures you need it to sew. It then goes off and produces your panorama.

It truly is that easy. Until successive pictures are radically completely different in publicity (i.e. one picture to too gentle or darkish in comparison with one other), it seamlessly blends them. It performs all of the warping of the pictures essential to get them to align (different software program I’ve used could cause ghosting within the overlap areas the place it hasn’t fairly aligned the pictures). It additionally aligns a number of rows of pictures relatively than only a single strip.

Even higher, it would not require you to arrange your digital camera to rotate about its nodal level. After I was in Crete final 12 months, I attempted capturing a couple of panoramas with my Canon EOS 300D held as much as my eye (I did not have a tripod with me). After I received residence, I attempted stitching the photographs collectively utilizing varied bits of software program (together with software program devoted to sewing pictures collectively) and did not get passable outcomes. I knew, although, that it was as a result of I would swivelled the digital camera about my backbone. However I attempted these pictures with AutoStitch and so they got here out completely. See for yourself here.

I went strolling up the Wicklow mountains in Eire no too way back and as much as a excessive level referred to as Djouce which provides a view over the rolling hills south of Dublin. As an experiment, I shot eight frames whereas rotating my head concerning the scene (digital camera to eye as per regular). I wished to see if the Crete photographs had been a fluke because the panoramas from there have been composed of, at most, three frames every (typically 2).

Conclusion

What can I say? I plugged eight frames into AutoStitch and after a little bit of time processing the pictures, it produced an ideal panorama with no ghosting I may see within the overlap causes. I like software program like that. It might solely do one factor but it surely does that one factor very nicely.

One factor to recollect when taking panoramas is that the exposures of every body needs to be the identical. So for those who make your first publicity at f/eight and 1/125 of a second, take all of them utilizing these settings. Sure, you’ll have to put your digital camera into guide mode. In any other case, you run the danger of getting radically completely different exposures on your pictures. For instance, for those who’re panning over a panorama that accommodates water, like a lake, any daylight mirrored off the water might make your digital camera take a shorter publicity than for the opposite frames in your sequence. Setting your digital camera to guide mode will forestall that

Test  out : panoramic landscape photos

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