I'd be remiss in my duties if I showed you only how to stitch together panoramas without first mentioning how to shoot them! For best results, take 3 or 4 photos of a scene, all with the same exposure and white-balance setting. All you need is a really cool panoramic scene to shoot, and a couple of basic techniques.
Speaking of basics, here are some tips for shooting panoramic scenes:
l Select a scene that's either wide or tall. Hey, nobody ever said panoramic images had to be horizontal! You can also shoot tall scenes from top to bottom to stitch together later. (Too bad nobody builds giant moon rockets anymore.)
l Mount your digital camera to a sturdy tripod. I always recommend shooting as many of your photos on a tripod as humanly possible. A tripod helps you achieve the sharpest possible photos, especially when you're shooting in low-light conditions and your shutter speed is less than X25 of a second. Look through your viewfinder or LCD and pan the scene from left to right (or top to bottom) to make sure your camera is level. If you see that your panning is a little off, adjust your tripod head to level your camera as best as you can.
l Meter the main part of the scene. I recommend using manual shutter-speed, aperture, and white-balance settings. Look at your LCD or view-finder to see how your digital camera is metering the scene. Switch to manual mode, and then set your shutter speed and aperture to match your digital camera's first meter reading of the scene. The idea is to ensure that the exposure is the same for every photo sequence you shoot. Additionally, set your white balance manually to match the conditions you're shooting in, such as daylight, overcast, or shade.
l Take a series of photos. If you're shooting a horizontally oriented scene, start on the left, and take the first shot. Pan your camera to the right until you've overlapped the previous shot by >3. Take the second shot. Pan to the right again until you've overlapped the previous shot by >3, and take the photo. If your panorama requires a fourth frame, repeat the process, overlapping the previous frame by >3.
l Review your photos. Using your digital camera's LCD, review your photos to make sure you achieved the results you intended. Check to make sure your images are sharp and properly metered. If you need to, take another series of panoramic shots using different zoom settings on your lens. Keep shooting different aspects of the scene to make sure that you captured the panoramic frames you know will make a great continuous scene. Figure 13-17 shows three separate frames I shot to use for my panorama, overlapping each by >3 of a frame.
Now that you have a number of images taken in sequence that you can use to stitch together into a panorama, it's time to use Bridge and Photomerge. Photomerge is a Photoshop utility that's accessible from both Bridge and the Photoshop FileOAutomate menu. I find it easiest to use Bridge to choose my images first:
1. Open Bridge and select the folder to choose your images from.
2. Process the images using Camera Raw.
Assuming that the images you want for your panorama are still in raw format, you'll need to process each of the 3 or 4 images you'll be using.
To ensure all of the images you'll be using for your panorama share the same Camera Raw adjustments:
266 Part V:The Part of Tens a. Process the first image in the sequence in Camera Raw.
Make necessary raw adjustments to White Balance, Exposure, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, and Curves.
b. Copy raw settings.
You'll want to apply the settings made to the first image to the remaining 2 or 3 images in your sequence. This will ensure that adjustments are the same for each image in your panorama, which is important because you want all the images to have the same color and tone throughout.
To copy raw settings, right-click (Ctrl+click on a Mac) on the image thumbnail in bridge, and choose Copy Camera Raw Settings as shown in Figure 13-18.
c. Paste raw settings to the remaining images.
Select the remaining images in your sequence into which you want to paste the Camera Raw settings: Click their thumbnails while holding down the Alt key (Option key on a Mac); then right-click (Ctrl+click on a Mac) and choose Paste Camera Raw Settings from the flyout menu.
3. Select images in Bridge to Photomerge.
Select each photo intended for your panorama in Bridge by holding the Alt key (Option key on the Mac) while clicking each image.
4. Choose ToolsOPhotoshopOPhotomerge (see Figure 13-19).
Photomerge attempts to assemble the images as one. For some panoramas, Photomerge can't quite figure out the entire panorama on its own, so you'll have to drag the images into the Photomerge window yourself (and line them up in the proper position there) to complete your panorama.
Figure 13-20 shows the Photomerge window with the panoramic image stitched together.
5. Click the Advanced Blending check box.
After checking the Advanced Blending check box, click the Preview button. Advanced blending gives you a better preview of how well Photomerge combined your images. You may have to use the Select Image tool to move individual images around so they overlap properly.
Use the Zoom tool to magnify the different overlapping areas of your image so you can check the overlap for each part of the panorama.
6. Click OK to load the panorama into Photoshop.
When you get the image into Photoshop, crop the image to ensure the borders of the image don't contain any white space. Figure 13-21 shows the final cropped image.
8. Complete final color, tonal corrections, and edits.
As with any image, go through your overall corrections and editing workflows to finish the image and get it ready for output. Start by using the Levels, Curves, and the Hue/Saturation adjustment levels to fine-tune color and tone. Make any needed edits such as dodging and burning, covered in Chapter 11.
A nice touch I like to add — especially to photos printed in magazines and books or displayed on the Web — is a thin black line around the image. It's an efficient way to separate the image from the rest of the page and add a classy look. To create a thin black line, follow these steps:
1. Open a photo that's been corrected and edited.
The Stroke command will not start using the background layer unless you make a selection by choosing SelectOAll, but I would rather perform this step in a separate layer; duplicate the background layer (by choosing LayerODuplicate Layer) to give the command something to work on.
3. Choose EditOStroke (see Figure 13-22).
Enter a width of 3 or 4 pixels. Choose black in the Color field, and then click Inside as your setting for Location. Figure 13-22: The Stroke command.
The image shows a 3-pixel-wide black border like the one in Figure 13-23.
Creating a Photo Web Site
Sure, I've used a lot of tools such as FrontPage to create my own photo Web site (shown in Figure 13-24). But I've also used the Photoshop Web Photo
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Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.