I took this photo of the Porcupine Mountains last fall and thought I’d use it to illustrate some of the tricks I use when developing panoramic images in Photoshop.
I began by taking a series of three overlapping shots. I find that an overlap of between 25% and 50% works well. Since I was shooting from a canoe, I couldn’t use a tripod or carefully level my tripod and camera as I would on land. So I just did the best I could to keep the horizon level and in about the same place as I quickly snapped the three shots. Of course, as is always important when taking shots to be later blended, I shot in manual so the three shots would have the same exposure.
Back in my studio I selected the three shots in Adobe Bridge and then double clicked to open them in Adobe Camera Raw. Since I wanted any adjustments made in Camera Raw to be shared by all three images, I selected all three and then clicked on the “synchronize” button. When I was finished with my adjustments I clicked the “Done” button, which brought me back to Bridge with the three adjusted images still selected.
I went to the tools menu and then selected Photoshop>Photomerge. This opens Photoshop and the Photomerge dialogue box (below). I find the “cylindrical” option works best in most cases.
Here is the resulting image:
Photoshop generally does an amazing job at blending photos for panoramas. But I noticed that the coastline seemed to curve down towards the point. Luckily, there is an easy fix for this! I navigated to Photoshop’s Filter menu and selected the Adaptive Wide Angle filter. This filter is tailor made for straightening curved lines in distorted wide angle and panoramic images. I simply clicked on one end of the shore and then dragged my cursor to the other end and clicked again. Magically, the shoreline straightened!
Now that the shoreline was straight, I could see it was not level. Once again there is an easy fix. I selected the ruler tool (it’s in the eyedropper tool group in Photoshop’s tools bar) and clicked and dragged another line along the coast. I then navigated to the Image menu and selected Image Rotation>Arbitrary. The ruler tool has automatically populated the amount field so that when you click OK, the picture rotates just the right amount to make the horizon level. I then cropped the image to a 3:1 ratio to create the final version at the top of this post.