How to Take Awesome Panoramic Photos
Panoramas were first defined by the painter Robert Barker in the XVIIIth century, in order to describe his paintings of British cities. They are in fact very wide-angle views and they are common used in painting, photography, film, and seismic images. In photography, panoramas are dedicated to landscapes and city views. Often, panoramas are pictures taken from above, overseeing a vast territory. Here are some tips to master panoramas in photography.
Use Wide Lenses
The use of wide lenses is absolutely necessary to achieve a panoramic view. A lens is considered wide if it has an angle of view between 64º and 84º, so a 24 mm or a 35 mm lens is considered wide. But for a panoramic view you will need more than that. You can go up to an angle of view of 180º with the fish-eye lenses, but they introduce a barrel distortion. More practical will be to use 16 mm or even 10 mm lenses, which have in-build stabilization and no distortion.
Use More Images
Image editing software made possible panoramas with an angle of view up to 360º. The photographer takes several images in a row and the software glues them together in a single panoramic view. The technique used here is called panning. The term panning is derived from the term panorama. It means moving the camera on a fixed axis. It can be horizontal or vertical. The images have to be aligned, so the use of a tripod is essential. Overlap your images about 30%.
You should also be careful to exposure. Different frames may need different exposures. In order to have a good panoramic image, you have to fix the focal distance. Pay attention to the dynamic range (the brightest area and the darkest area).
Panning has another advantage. You can zoom in. Because you don’t need a wide angle anymore and you have a tripod for image stabilization, you can use zooming to get closer to your subject. This is very useful in landscape photography, for example when you want to photograph mountains far away.
Avoid Moving Subjects
If you do a single panoramic frame, moving subjects may trouble you only at low shutter speeds. But if you choose to do panning, moving objects can appear in different images. They also may appear blurred, like ghosts. Panning is a good technique for static subjects, like landscapes and city views. Another good rule is to photograph from the distance. The impact of moving objects will be less disturbing. You should also avoid zooming and low lighting conditions, actually anything that can lower your shutter speed.
Use a Smartphone
It seems unbelievable, but smartphones are great at doing panoramas. First of all, they have wide lenses. Secondly, many of them have the necessary software to glue together images into a panorama. If they don’t have it, you can always download it as an app. Smartphones also let you see on the screen how your images are connecting while to take them. When you finish photographing, they show you the resulting panorama. And if you don’t like it you can take another one on the spot. Moreover, there are special tripods for smartphones. But you can always choose a different approach and take a diagonal panorama. With a weightless camera everything is possible.
Panoramas are preferred by travel and landscape photographers. When you climb a mountain you deserve a panoramic photograph. Vast landscape invites you to do panoramas. It’s a way of describing what you see. They are also useful in aerial photography. But don’t limit yourself. A beach, a river, a winding road can be very good subjects. Technology helps you, but creativity is was delivers great images.