Panorama 360-degree Stitching

Panoramic photography is a special type of image editing technique that can stitch multiple images into one single photograph to depict a large-scale picture. This is particularly useful for landscape pictures. In the past panoramic images could only be created by aligning pictures in sequence to create a bigger picture but it was not always easy to achieve perfect alignment. The process required precision and therefore took a lot of time. As technology advanced photographic software that could create 3600panoramic images was developed. Today with the right equipment and the right software, panoramic pictures are being created everywhere by landscape photographers as well as architects and cityscape photographers. The main thing that has made the creation of large-scale panoramic pictures possible is stitching software.

Panoramic photography requires special equipment and stitching also requires precision and an in-depth knowledge of what one is doing. Some photographers have a great eye for taking great shots but these can easily be ruined in the postproduction phase when they need to be stitched together if done improperly and with the wrong type of software.

Complexity of Panorama photography

Just to illustrate how complex this type of photography can be think about shooting the landscape of Machu Picchu vs. shooting a panoramic image of a city’s downtown area. These two places will require different camera equipment and you will need to know how to calibrate your camera to get the best shots. There are curves and distortions that might prove to be problematic when stitching. For seasoned photographers, changing lenses to accommodate different views might not be necessary if they have been doing it long enough to know how to calibrate their equipment and what to do to compensate for angles.

What is 360 degree panorama stitching?

There is an art and a science to shooting 360-degree panoramic pictures which involves knowing your camera, the camera settings, the lenses and how to move as you take successive pictures and scrolling your picture lineup on the LCD screen of your camera to see if you have not missed any spots. Always make sure that each picture will overlap perfectly with the next in order to create a continuous image post stitching.

Stitching software

Once you have taken the pictures you need to stitch them together to create one image. There is specialized software for panoramas that range from the easiest like Adobe Photoshop and PTGui. Other software includes, StichUp, SharpStich, PhotoStitcher, Panorama Stitcher, PanoramaMaker, Image Composite Editor and many more. The number programs and software that claims to be the best is so vast and the process so complicated it is best left to a professional company.

Typical steps in stitching include
  • Finding the control point in order to align photos
  • Finding the vanishing point in an image, which is a point of reference, assumed one would see if he were actually standing in the image. This point is also where the imaginary horizon and the lines that are perpendicular and parallel to the viewer’s line of sight converge.
  • The stitching software will then be able to optimize the positions of the photos once the control, and vanishing points have been set
  • Manual and automatic redirection and setting of blending seams

Challenges

There are a lot of challenges that a novice might encounter, which is why panoramic photography is best left to the pros. It should be mentioned however that most problems comes at the beginning when the pictures are being taken. There is an issue of parallax errors that photographers have to be mindful of. Panoramic photography requires skill, creativity and some technical know how.

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