Multi-Image Panoramic Stitching

That is a very clear explanation and example of the benefits of multi-image panoramas. Very good.

In creating your panorama the first, and most important, step is to take a set of images that all have the same exposure and point of focus.

Depending on the software you use, you don't necessarily have to use the same exposure, and you can incidentally also use more than one row so as to counter the "long, thin" look of wide-angle panoramas.

Here is an example which combined 3 rows of images (47 images in all) which cover an angle of about 270 degrees horizontally and, I believe, around 90 degrees vertically.

The exposures ranged from 1/80 sec to 2/5 sec. I usually use the same aperture for all the images in a pano, but I must have nudged something and this series used both f/4 and f/4.5.

[Click on image for larger version - which does not have the strong edge halos visible in this small version. The larger version does however reveal some joining glitches along the water line, and the second image has at least one of these too, but I don't think that detracts from the point about being able to use different exposures.]


The images were captured a couple of years ago with a Canon S3. As it happens, I used Autopano Pro to combine the images - but this is not a recommendation for Autopano Pro; it is just what I happen to use and know about. There are many other products which do similar things, quite possibly better, and in many cases cheaper (or free).

Autopano recommend using Av mode so that each image can be exposed optimally, and collectively the images can cover a greater dynamic range than is possible with a single image. The software then uses 32-bit techniques to combine the images and can output 32-bit .hdr images, 8 or 16 bit Photoshop files or JPEG images.

FWIW the software can also remove ghost images, which is good for images like this one where the ship moved while the images were being captured.

[Click on image for larger version.]


Incidentally, clouds can move significantly in the time it takes to capture the images for such panos, so for multi-row panos I use a "zig-zag" technique of image capture to try to minimise the effect of cloud movement.

And also incidentally, the geometry of very wide angle panos can be rather perplexing. The second of these images only covers about 130 degrees horizontally and its geometry is not particularly problematic (as far as I am aware:)). The first, much wider-angle, image is of the perplexing variety. Sharp-eyed viewers will notice that the water line is not flat. With sufficient bending and shaping in Photoshop it is possible to make it more or less flat, but I'm not at all sure that it should be flat. Only on the extreme left of the water line is what we see the sea horizon - the rest is coastline, and that coastline is at greatly varying angles and distances to the viewer, ranging from straight-on and quite far away on the left to almost side-on and quite near on the right. How straight the water line should be in those circumstances is something that has baffled me for ages, especially since with very wide angle shots a lot of straight lines become curves anyway because of the fact that, in effect, the surface of a sphere is being mapped to a rectangle.

But it doesn't have to be that complicated, as the OP showed nicely. And like he said, it's like having a camera with a much larger sensor, and that can't be a bad thing!

Panasonic ZX1 - stitched in CS5 - Saint-Emilion France
Another vote for AutoPano Pro 2, fast (64-bit version), reliable and does a fantastic job!

This was roughly 30 images from a Sony a900, CZ 135mm f1.8, HANDHELD!

These photos are really beautiful - thanks so much to you all. I never ever thought I'd consider even trying such a thing. Now, I know who to call upon if I travel down the panoramic path, for sure!