More Panorama Tips and Tricks

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Porcupine Mountains

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.

Camera raw

Adobe Camera RAW


Adober Bridge

Adobe Bridge


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.

Photomerge Dialogue box

Here is the resulting image:

Photomerged 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!


Adaptive Wide Angle Filter

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.

Rotate Canvas

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