An panoramic image is any image that has more than a 135° field of view. Most panoramic images are much wider than they are tall, and almost all boast a 4:1 or more ratio of length to height of the image. Creating panoramic images is such an easy thing to do. They are simple to create, and have a great effect! I teach the process in both my undergraduate and high school digital photography classes. Students love to make panoramics because they are quick and unique.

First a few tips:

  • Make sure to overlap at least 1/3 of the image. The computer needs help finding where the images line up. The more you overlap of the images, the better the final product will turn out.
  • Include something in the foreground. Give the viewer something to look at that is close to the camera as well as far away. For example, put a rock in the foreground and a scenic landscape in the background. It creates more interesting compositions.
  • Use manual focus and exposure. Since you are going to be putting a number of images together, you want those images to have the same focal point and exposure. So, if you can, set your focus and exposure to manual. That way they won’t change from image to image.

How to combine the images together in Photoshop

This set of instructions will work with most versions of Photoshop CS. I would always recommend using the most recent release of the program, but I realize that that is not always possible. These directions work for Photoshop CS3-CS6.

Select a layout method, and then add the images for the panoramic. Then click OK.
Open Photoshop
  1. Go File>Automate>Photomerge
  2. Select the Layout Method. This determines how Photoshop will put the images together. I recommend starting by trying the Auto, but you may want to go back through the process and experiment with the other layout methods to see what the results look like.
  3. Select the images to use. Click the Browse button and select ALL of the images to be used in the panoramic photograph.
  4. Click OK. You’ll see Photoshop do some processing now. Images will flash in and out, and in the end you’ll be left with a panoramic image.
  5. Crop the Image. Use the crop tool in Photoshop to crop the image so that none of the ragged edges are showing. This simply cleans up the image and makes it a bit more presentable. 
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