In this blog post, William Storey will explain step-by-step how to build a large stitched panorama like as the image below depicting Blackburn and Darwen.
Firstly, I set up the tripod with a rough level to help the individual images flow evenly into each other. I set my camera in portrait orientation to allow good space across the image for cropping, which is an important factor I will discuss further in this post.
I compose the first image then fit a Lee 0.45 Hard Graduation Natural Density filter to darken the sky. Set focus is on the nearest object after which I check the lens barrel to ensure my selected aperture affords adequate depth of field. Then I start to slowly move the camera in the panning motion stopping about one third of the way across the screen for each exposure. I use live viewfinder for this as it helps me to align the shots.
This image took a total of 21 individual exposures, taken in manual mode to prevent the camera’s built in metering from making adjustment along the pan and upsetting the exposure levels.
I then upload and open the images in Lightroom.
From here I lift the contrast levels, clarity and de-haze settings to max. This helps to show any dust spots on the sensor, which I then use the spotting tool to remove.
I return the settings back to neutral like the original and copy the settings with just the spot removal ticked.
This allows me to open all the other images and apply a paste settings thus removing the same dust spot throughout the range. I then save all the 21 images in a separate folder and export them to Photoshop.
Once open in Photoshop.
I go to ‘File – Automate – Photomerge’, then tick Add Open Files and click ok.
At this point it may be worth walking the dog or having a nice relaxing cuppa as the processor will be in overdrive with the sheer volume of data, come back in about an hour when it will be much more forgiving and you should find your screen showing something like this:
As you can see the edges are sloping and the horizon is not like it is in real life, so I open layers’ menu and flatten the image into one layer. Select all and open ‘Edit – Transform – Perspective’, you can now alter the size and position of the image edges to reflect a natural panorama.
Next, I crop the image to match the boundaries. From here there are numerous routes but what I personally like to do to is to open a new blank image the same size as I would like to print at, copy and paste the image into the new file space and resize to fit in which parts I would like to include in the final picture, flatten and save as a jpeg.
Then I import the finished panorama back into Lightroom where I convert it to black and white.
From here I begin adjusting the levels & curves, vignette and sharpness/noise reduction to gain the tonal balance I would like to achieve for the image.
While the image is very large, it is quite easy to handle as a jpeg even at 65 x 15 inches, which would be my preferred print size for an image like this.
The camera used is a Pentax 645Z with the 120mm Macro f/4 645 lens. Using a moderate telephoto not only slightly compresses the perspective but also prevents the pincushion effect you would have if you made a similar image with for example 4 wide angle photographs.