Panorama methodology

Panoramas were created using the following methodology:

General setup

  1. Photos were taken with a Canon 30D and a Canon 15-85mm lens, set at 15mm. At this setting, the vertical field of view of the lens is 73 degrees.
  2. The camera was set up vertically on a Slik Pro tripod and Giottos MH 1302 ballhead. The camera was leveled so the horizon was exactly in the middle of the photo.

Notes: Results, especially in the foreground, would improve with a dedicated panorama ballhead, such as one of the Nodal Ninja heads.

Night time panoramas

  1. For night time panoramas, exposure was set to 30Sec at f3.5
  2. The Canon 30D (and newer semi-professional models) provides automatic dark frame correction, which was applied to all photos to reduce noise.
  3. 12 Photos were taken in RAW format vertically, starting at north, at 30 degree intervals, using markings on the ballhead.
  4. Images were copied to a Windows computer, converted to DNG with Adobe DNG Converter, and opened in Adobe Lightroom.
  5. The lens profile and Camera standard lens correction were applied.
  6. Noise reduction was applied to all images.
  7. Images were exported as full size JPEGs, 95% quality, sharpened for screen.
  8. Images were opened in PTGUI Pro 9.02 and stitched. This is one of the most advanced panorama stitching programs on the market; its results are superior and is easier to use than  programs like Photoshop. The program often has problems finding control points on night photos, so one may have to add control points manually to some of the photos. However, the interface makes it easy to do this. It may take a couple of tries to get the program to stitch a night panorama, as it can be challenged by the fact that stars move slightly from frame to frame. Removing control points on stars, and replacing them with fixed points, may help.
  9. The resulting panorama was moved until North appeared exactly in the middle of the image. This was easily accomplished using the Big Dipper and north star.
  10. Exposure was optimized and the panorama was saved at 8000x1919 px, at 95% quality.
  11. The panorama was imported into Fireworks 8 where the text was added. Fireworks is actually not made to handle files this large. the program will stop responding if it takes more than 1GB of memory. Photoshop or Illustrator may be better suited to the task, but Fireworks is very fast for this task.
  12. Final panoramas were exported at several resolutions.

Notes: check the manual of your camera if it offers automatic dark frame correction. If not, you will have to do this manually.

Day time panoramas

  1. For day-time panoramas, the camera was set to manual exposure, using settings that gave an approximately correct exposure for the scene
  2. To compensate for differences in lighting across the scene, HDR (High Dynamic Range) panoramas were created. To acquire HDR images, 3 bracketed exposures were taken at 30 degree intervals, resulting in a 36-photo panorama. Bracketing was generally set at -1EV, 0EV and 1EV.
  3. RAW images were processed with Adobe DNG Converter and Lightroom as with night time panoramas.
  4. In PTGUI, the HDR exposure fusion method was used to blend the images into one panorama.
  5. The resulting panorama was processed in Fireworks as above.




Additional information