Stitching shots – a Gigapixel panorama

So you want to shoot a dramatic landscape that requires an ultrawide lens. If you don’t have an ultrawide or you need more detail than your camera can capture you can always use photoshop to stitch more than one image together.

2000 pixels wide
2000 pixels wide

This image was composed of 9 separate frames shot with a Nikon 70-200 VR lens. I used the 70mm end as it has minimal distortion and hand held a series of shots starting from the left and panning right. It’s important to overlap your shots as this will make it easier for photoshop to find anchor points to compose your panorama. If you haven’t corrected your shots before merging you may find the horizon uneven. This is tricky to correct once merged so be careful when shooting to place your horizon in the same part of each frame.

When capturing your shots ready to stitch make sure that you set your camera to manual mode. Find an exposure value, white balance and focal length that works for the whole scene and lock them so you have no variation in your final image. Once you have your images ready to go you can load them using one of two methods.

  1. In Lightroom, Select your images then right click ‘Edit it > Merge to panorama in Photoshop.
  2. In Photoshop, click File > Automate > Photomerge.

Photomerge offers several options, by all means try them out but ‘Auto’ tends to work well for most situations.

Photoshop will import your images and attempt to arrange them by finding key points and creating layer masks to make a starting point for your panorama. Once the layers are complete you can use the brush tool to reveal or hide details from each layer.

The full size version of this shot is a rather frightening 1.24 Gigapixel image, larger than any DSLR currently available can produce. At 300DPI this image could be printed at over 2m wide.

This is just an outlined version of the process. For detailed workshops on capturing and creating with photoshop see the tutorials section for one to one sessions.

Detail crop from centre
Detail crop from centre

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