Panoramic pictures by definition are a series of images representing one continuous scene. From a photographers stand point, panoramic pictures are of a unique aesthetic that allows the viewer to see a wider perspective of the intended image. A more functional use of panoramic pictures are created and used by digital matte painters that develop set extensions for television, film, and video. I am going to show you how to create your own panoramic shots from the initial stages with the camera to the end result on the computer using Photoshop CC in three simple steps:
- Taking the Pictures
- Creating the Panoramic
- Exporting Final Image
TAKING THE PICTURES
While out capturing the images on your camera, there are a few tips and tricks I recommend using to help optimize the quality and clarity of your potential panoramic picture. First, I recommend using a fluid head tripod to capture your image series. This will greatly reduce your chances of shake, rotation, or position issues that may throw off the Photoshop CC photo stitching program resulting in warped or unusable panoramic pictures. When you do take your pictures make sure some of the last photo is still present in your new photo as the photo stitching program will be looking for these similarities in the images, called anchor points, and join them together.
Last, if you use a DSLR camera you should keep your settings to manual. The reason for this is because if you use an automatic settings this could change a portion of your images (exposure, ISO, aperture) from one to the other and throw off the photo stitching program or simply become an unusable panoramic.
CREATING THE PANORAMIC
When you have finished collecting a series of images that you would like to join together as a panoramic, import them onto your computer and save them in a clearly labeled folder. Open up Photoshop CC and navigate to FILE >> AUTOMATE >> PHOTOMERGE. You will be presented with a dialog box that asks you for the LAYOUT and SOURCE FILES.
For the most realistic and seamless panoramic, and for the purposes of this exercise, I will have you choose AUTO as your LAYOUT style, however, I encourage you to play with other layout options as you see fit. For SOURCE FILES choose BROWSE and navigate to the folder where you saved your image series, highlight all the image files you wish to use, and select OPEN.
Back in the Photomerge dialogue box you are now going to choose OK which will initiate the photo stitching program and will automatically analyze your selected images and join them together as best it can based on the information it is provided. The process can take several minutes and when it is finished you will have a rough image with distorted edges that you can work with and turn into your final panoramic.
If you are happy with the outcome, then use the drop down menu in the LAYERS PANEL and choose MERGE VISIBLE. This will join all the layers together allowing us to go in and cut out a final panoramic. Using the RECTANGULAR MARQUEE TOOL (shortcut key is ‘M’ on your keyboard) you can select the portion of the image you would like to use as your panoramic.
Next, go to the SELECTION menu and choose INVERSE. At this point you can hit DELETE on your keyboard which will result in the elimination of all content around your panoramic image.
If this is how you want your panoramic to appear then you are ready for the next step. However, this is your opportunity to do more work (color correct, crop more, retouch, etc.) and to get the panoramic picture exactly how you envision it.
EXPORTING FINAL IMAGE
Since you have cut into and cropped away part of that original mish-mash of images to create your panoramic you are now left with some negative space, in the form of a checkerboard design, around your image.
To get rid of this checkerboard design, which is extra transparency, simply go to EDIT >> TRIM… >> from there you will be presented with a dialogue box where you will choose TRANSPARENT PIXELS and OK.
Now your panoramic is fitted and ready to export. Depending on the needs of your client, project, or personal use you may export your image in different file formats, however, the general process is the same. Go to FILE >> SAVE AS >> where you will then be presented with a dialogue box with LOCATION and FORMAT. Choose your LOCATION as to where you want the file saved on your computer and the FORMAT drop down menu with give you a plethora of options to choose from to meet your needs. Once you choose the proper FORMAT just hit SAVE and your panoramic picture is complete!