Why do I stitch panoramas?

Moon Rising – f/13, 75mm, ISO 100, 25 seconds – 4-stitched panorama, 6 X 18, 58 Mega Pixels – Click for large

I have been shooting stitched panoramas for some time now. Enough time for me to understand the ins and outs of it. I did a lot of research and field applications too. I really had to buy a panoramic tripod head to have perfect frames for stitching. I always bring my tripod with me whenever I go shooting. My friend said I am crazy walking in New York with a tripod. I really did not care, lol.

Stitching was too much of a hassle at first, exposures were messed up, misaligned shots, wrong number of frame counts or wrong overlaps, difficulty in using filters and stuff like that. My original plan was to buy a film panoramic camera like the Fuji G617 or GX617. The film size in each shot is 6 X 17 cm using a 120 or 220 film. So I sold my 5DMark II and bought a Nikon F5 to allow me to practice exposing the Fuji Velvia 50 or 100 films. These are pretty popular in film world specially in landscape photography. I tried and tried but finally gave up, film was just too much, too expensive. I had to wait for days to get my shots processed and scanned, what a disappointment. How much money am I gonna spend just to learn how to expose Velvias correctly? Velvias are difficult in my opinion. I gave up, film was not for me. If you are thinking of using film for the first time, forget about it. My F5 now is just a paper weight in my desk.

Now I am back to stitching panoramas. At least I have instant feedback with digital. I can try many exposures and settle with the best setting.
But why go through all these?

First. The bump of resolution. 4-stitched panorama using my D7000 at 16MP each can go up to 58 MP cropped at 6 X 18. In landscape photography the higher the number of pixels the better specially for larger prints. I had to turn down an offer to buy one of my Philly shots because the client said she wanted to print it 3 X 4 feet as a divider in a new car dealership. I said I was sorry because it was shot with a Nikon D700 12MP camera and I thought 3 X 4 feet was too much. If I knew then how to stitch even a 12MP camera was enough to bump resolution.

Second. It’s more fun to me. Not your typical one shot one frame type of photography.

Third. Limitations of wide angle lenses. The best Nikon wide angle lens is the 14-24mm f/2.8 and at 14mm the widest focal length you will have distortion. For Canon the 16-35mm f/2.8 still have distortion at 16mm. The wider you want the more distortion you get. When stitching panoramas set your focal length to 35mm in full frame and you’re set, no distortion guaranteed and you can go as wide as you want.

Fourth. Softwares are getting better. Adobe Photoshop CS5 is among the best. You can have many options on how to stitch the frames; wide, 180 degrees, 360 degrees or spherical panoramas.

Fifth. The panoramic films cameras are expensive too. How much more the digital panoramic cameras?
I guess these are the top reasons why I do stitching.

The photo above was the first shots I made when we went to New York. As you can see the moon was just right above the horizon. I used a 50mm focal (75mm in full frame) here because I wanted a somewhat larger moon. It consisted of 4 vertical frames shot in RAW and stitched in Photoshop.

Hope you enjoy it!


PS. I don’t normally mention gears here in my blogs but they’re just for reference. Thanks.


14 thoughts on “Why do I stitch panoramas?

  1. I don’t know enough about photography to fully understand what you are saying, but it is still fascinating. And the panorama is gorgeous!

  2. I too stitch panoramas for much the same reason. Part of the problem is displaying them. WordPress does a decent job of letting you zoom in. Picasa does a good job of navigating panoramas as well. The pay service I use has a worse interface than either of those two.

    Because of it, I limit the number of panoramas I shoot, but I agree that compared to a few years ago the tools are simply amazing.

    As for treatment, my workflow is to adjust all the pictures in Lightroom before I send them to Photoshop for merging. I then do final tweaks (for some reason I always need to bump up the sharpening a bit after merging).

    One comment on your posts (and their e-mail notifications); they load very slow. I’m pretty sure it’s because you are loading the original photo in the actual post (I could be wrong). Not to suggest I know better, but I found I can improve the reader experience if I use a properly scaled version for the post, and upon clicking it goes to the full version (you would have to load both, and appropriately link the photos).

    In case you are wondering, I have a very fast connection, but when I read your posts, and I scroll down to read, I notice it refreshes the picture, and it does so pretty slowly, and it depends on the panorama, with some loading very slow.

    Again, maybe it’s something else, but yours is the only blog which does that, so I’m assuming it’s the panoramas.

    . . . which, by the way, are always great.

    • Thanks a lot man. I haven’t really tried that adjustment first in Lightroom before merging it in Photoshop. Thats a thing I need to try. Yes I load the original size of the panoramas. I might scale it back a lil bit. next time.

  3. You said it all right here. I love film. Love it, love it, love it. Analogue is how I learned and originally practiced photgraphy BUT it is now cost prohibitive. If you want to keep your long-term operating costs down; whether pro or hobbyist, you have to go digital.

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