..:Panoramical photos - some considerations:..
How many times haven’t you been in the nature in front of a majestic landscape which you would have liked to take a photo of and, however, any kind of lens you would have used, something was missing. With the objective you do not have the needed angle and using the super-angular something of the beauty of the landscape disappears. What we need is a photo taken in a way which makes to feel like being there, being able to see the details with accuracy. We need a unique image which when is hung on the wall will surely be observed, a panoramic image.

A technical matter

Four or five years ago, we needed a special camera manufactured and quite expensive, on a film, which after developing had to be scanned in order to be used with atypical formats. I could say that it was a domain reserved to the professionals. The latest years have brought democracy into photography. The digital capture has broken down many barriers in the way of the amateur, now being able to use professional techniques. The panoramic photography is one of those. Now, with work and skills anybody can reach a professional quality of professional photography. You may ask why we do not slide a normal photo in a panoramic format. Yes, it is possible like that , but there are a few problems. The image that results is smaller then the original one , the details are smaller, but for a panoramic photo in a reasonable format we will have to zoom it in a quite a lot and part of the beauty of details will be lost. Then, the perspective is totally different. The technique of photographing panoramas leads to a special perspective. The simplest method is a panoramic photography which combines the elements needed: the mode of the lens and normal focal distance. And the panoramic composition has a stronger impact then a usual photo. The greatest impact was given by the panoramic photo in a format of 30 x 85 cm. With a frame of45 x100 cm, these are impressive. The technique used has some secrets that will make your life easier. These being in the phase of talking the photo and continue then in the phase of computer work. The first element needed to know is that the use of the tripod is compulsory for a quality panorama. In spite of the fact that there are compact cameras which have in-built panorama programs, the result is not always the expected one. For web applications there are very good, but when we want to zoom in sufficiently, there can be defects among the sections of the panorama. A tripod with an applied level directly on the pan of décor with its head is the best. the head of the tipod must have at least two joints: a cylindrical one, with a vertical ax for the horizontal plan separated from the other joints.

Station point, settings, composition

When reaching the station point you have to look for a proper place for the tripod and then to have a perfect horizontal rotation plan with the help of the level on the tripod. Otherwise, the resulted panorama will be in stairs and we shall lose from the final resolution of the image through sliding. Then, you have to be sure that the camera is also in a horizontal plan. This will be obtained with the help of the level on the head of the tripod or with an attached level in the place of the external flesh. If in the image there is a surface of water, it is better to have some movements of panorama with the camera, till the result is the right one. The settings are very important. All the commands will be set from auto to manual: the time of exposure and the diaphragm, focus, ISO sensitivity, color temperature. The attachment of the camera on the panoramic head is also important. The attachment screw must be put on the optic ax of the camera. This is provided by the manufacturer in an express way for the semiprofessional an professional cameras. At the compact ones, the attachment is usually not centered from the optical ax. This disadvantage will lead to a more difficult assembling of the frames on the computer. At some of bridge cameras I noticed the correct positioning of the hole for attachment. This can be a criterion of choosing a camera of panoramas. The choice of the framing and composition the next step for talking the panoramic photo. Basically, each frame has to contain a main subject around which the composition is built. At the ends, the frame must have an element to shut the composition. For those, who are used to do video filming, we can associate the panoramic photography with the panorama movement of the filming camera. In this case, too, the camera starts at a composition well built then makes the panoramic movement and stops on a well composed frame. The same thing is needed for the panoramic photography, with the difference that here the subject of the image has to be well put in evidence. We have to avoid the existence of two subjects in the composition. The determination of the exposure is essential in establishing a workflow correctly when assembling on the computer. The exposure is made manually, but assisted, by the camera. In the analysis of the exposure, attention must be paid to the most critical zone of the frame- maximum contrast, maximum highlights- where the measurement of the exposure will be made. After a few testing frames, not to have overexposed areas, the time and optimal diaphragm will be set. This will be saved for all the rest of the frames which build the panorama, no matter the exposing variations which naturally occur.

The composition of the panoramas

The last phase in photographing panoramas of the successive exposure of the frames which build the panorama. You will need from five to eight frames for a report of the sides of 1:2.5. the camera may be positioned in a horizontal position, too, but the vertical position is preferred because the number of the pixels will increase on the short side of the format, and the results will be a zoom on the final resolution of the panorama photo. Each frame will be put over the previous one in a proportion of 30 percent. The overexposure is realized during the panorama work of the camera. This will help in the future processing of the photo. The raw of images obtained will have the same exposure and focus and will make easier the editing work. Once the photos are on the computer, we shall choose one of the automatic photo programs. The choice is quite easy as there are a lot of there kinds of programs, from the programs for amateurs, some of them free, to the ones used by professionals. It depends on the budget and the gentility of those who work with them. A more detailed control of sticking means an improved program. Some of the programs which solve the sticking of the panoramas relatively well are PhotoStich, Panavue and Panorama Factory. If you want a higher rigor, you will have to use Pano Tools, Manual, and the sticking of the photos can be made in Photoshop in a relatively simple way. But it needs experience in the using of this program. A new document is generated with the final physical size of the panorama. Then, on this one on different layers parts of images are imported, the sequence of images that build the panorama. It is begun from the left to the right or down to up, in the order of the layers. Then the first two photos are stuck using a transparency of 50 percent for the second layer. It is overexposed on the layer 1until the common points in the two frames are identified. The superior layer is eliminated with 1/6 of the frame and then the transparency of the layers 2 is reduced with 100 percent. A few adjustments are made for the levels in the LEVELS window to fix the exposure of the layer 2 with precision. The same thing is done with the rest of layers. Finally, the whole image is analyzed, and then the adjusting framing is done. The image will be saved in TIFF format. A saving in PSD format can also be made, for corrections after printing. Then a first printing is made for a detailed analysis for the panorama. In case there is a link noticed where the panoramas are put together, this can be fixed in the PSD file.

August 03, 2007

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