How to Take Panoramic Photos
A guide to help you understand & get the best out of your panoramic photography
We all know the feeling when we’re out in nature and witness a view so stunning that we wish we could imprint it on our brains forever. The next best thing? Panoramic photography. Sometimes it’s hard to really capture what you see and do the landscape justice, so we have compiled a list of tips on how to take great panoramic photos that deserve a place on your wall. After all, a panoramic print of your favourite shot is a great way to make a big statement with your home décor.
What is panoramic photography?
Panoramic photography is a wide form of landscape photography that stitches multiple images together, in order to create an image of a complete view without any obstructions.
Interestingly, panoramic photography has existed for almost as long as regular photography. From its beginning, photographers were keen to capture cityscapes in a way that standard photography couldn’t, so specialised panoramic cameras were invented in the 1840s.
The word ‘panorama’ itself dates back to the late 18th century, a term coined by the Irish artist and inventor, Robert Barker. He combined the English word ‘pan’ meaning ‘all’ and the Greek word ‘horama’ meaning ‘view’ to define a painting that is “on a revolving cylindrical surface”.
When to choose panoramic photography?
Panoramic photography is ideal for -
Outdoor Photography: Get a better scope of the view than with regular photographs. Panoramic photography is most effective if you want to capture a city’s skyline or a view of a landscape such as a mountainous valley or the seaside.
Larger prints to display at home: Wow your friends and family with your panoramic photography expertise after following our tips.
We don’t recommend panoramic photography for indoor or close-range photography. It’s best not to take panoramic photos of people as there’s a danger that their faces could become distorted. Also, try to avoid taking panoramic photos indoors, as there usually isn’t a large enough scope of vision to achieve an effective photo.
Your panoramic photography kit list
When learning how to take panoramic photos, it’s best to have a few of these essential items in your kit list. With panoramic photography being a fine art, you’ll find you need certain items that aren’t usually needed in regular photography kits.
A camera with a manual exposure option. This way, you can ensure that the exposure isn’t varying in from one end of your photo to the other.
A tripod to ensure your photographs are all taken on the same level. Having a consistent camera level is a vital element of panoramic photography as it can hugely affect the final outcome.
A wide-angle lens – 35 mm so that the quality of the photograph isn’t compromised when stitching.
A memory card with enough capacity. As a beginner this is indispensable as you’ll want to spend more time practising and taking more photographs to achieve your perfect panoramic image.
Sun visor for the lens. This will allow you to take a more accurate photo by preventing lens flares on a sunny day.
How to take panoramic photos
Check your levels: One of the most important things to consider for successful panoramic photography is the height and angle of your camera, and specifically, making sure that it’s consistent. One of the most effective ways to ensure consistency in your shots is with a tripod. This prevents your final photograph from having a staggered appearance or looking uneven during the stitching.
Understanding overlapping: In order to achieve a seamless panoramic photograph, you have to have a sufficient amount of overlapping on your photographs. If you don’t do this, you may end up with a clumsy white bar down the centre of your image, interrupting the flow of the scenery. To avoid this, aim to leave between 15% and 30% overlap and you should be able to stitch your panorama together with no issues.
Metering mode: When learning how to take great panoramic photographs, make sure you have the correct exposure. In order to do this, you’ll have to set your metering mode to manual. Otherwise, you could end up with one half of your photograph being overexposed and the other being underexposed. A top tip is to keep the aperture and shutter speeds slightly darker to make sure that the sky details are preserved in your shot.
Correct rotation: Making sure that you rotate your camera in the correct place is essential for a successful shot. The best way to take panoramic photos is by rotating the camera around the mid-point of the lens, instead of the camera body. This way, you can easily achieve a successful panoramic photo.
Any movement: When striving for panoramic photography perfection, be extra aware of any movement in your surroundings. Any groups of people or moving cars? If you can, wait until they’re out of shot. That way, you’ll be able to achieve a professional looking panorama photo that you’ll be proud to display in your home.