In photography, some subjects lend themselves to a different aspect ratio than the standard photograph. Sometimes you just can’t convey what you want within the confines of the rectangle that you camera captures with one exposure. In panoramic photography, typically you take several exposure and combine them with software after the fact to end up with a photo that has an increased field of view that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Photoshop has made creating panoramas incredibly easy. Here’s how to do it:
Shoot a series of photographs of your subject. I like to start on the left and work my way to the right. With each exposure, make sure to overlap the previous frame by a generous margin. Often photographers only think to create a panorama when their subject is a vast vista outdoors. I’ve found that some indoor locations make for compelling panoramas as well, like my hotel room in Busan, South Korea.
You can shoot a series of images for a panorama handheld and photoshop will still do a fairly good job of aligning and merging the frames, however I find that a tripod can greatly improve the results. Use the tripod to pivot the camera while you take the series of frames. Keep in mind that a panorama doesn’t have only be horizontal. You can use photoshop to stitch two or more horizontal rows of images creating a final image with a tall and wide field of view.
Once you’ve shot your series of images for your panorama, I find it easiest to copy all of them into a new folder specifically created for that panorama. You can make sure you delete any test shots or frames you don’t want include in the panorama. From here I load the series in Adobe Bridge and right click on the first image and select Open in Camera Raw. I make my Raw adjustments such as adding clarity or lifting the shadows or bringing down the highlights and then click Done.
I then copy the Raw adjustments I made to the first image and apply them to the rest of the images in the series. To do this right click on the edited image, select Develop Settings > Copy Settings. Now shift click to select the rest of the images in the series, right click on one of the images and select Develop Settings > Paste Settings. You can now close Adobe Bridge.
It’s time to combine all of your frames into a single image. Open Photoshop and select File > Automate > Photomerge. This will open the photomerge dialog box. Select Browse and navigate to the folder where all of your panorama images are. Select all of the images and hit ok. Most of the time the Auto layout setting works great, but depending on your subject matter you might have better results with a different mode. Hit ok and let Photoshop process your images. This will take longer if you are processing more images and if each image is high resolution.
After Photoshop completes it’s photomerge process, and you are happy with the result, you may have to crop the final image because the resulting image may have jagged edges. You may also want to select Layer > Flatten Image to merge all of the layers photoshop created when in created the panorama. Once you’ve merged all the layers to a single layer, you can make any final adjustments such as brightness and contrast or color correction and then save out your final image.