My wife and I recently took a road-trip to the Grand Canyon and as you can imagine, we took lots of photos. One thing I wanted to try however was to figure out a way to create a panoramic photo using a few digital photos that I had taken of the trip.
Luckily, before we ventured out on the road, I had read that in order to do this with a regular camera, there are a few tricks to learn that you must consider while taking the digital photo. Ideally, I would snap a photo, move the camera slightly to the right, snap another photo, then repeat and when I got back home, I would splice the images together and viola, there’s the panoramic picture. This of course only works if the photos are perfectly aligned. The trick, is to overlap the subsequent photos because this will allow the splicing (that occurs later) to work best.
Here’s a sample of what I mean. Say you wanted to create a panoramic photo that looks like this:
You would need to take say, three separate digital photos in order to capture everything.
This requires that the line where one photo ends is exactly where the next photo begins. This is impossible to do on-the-fly. Rather, try to overlap the camera’s viewpoints about 30% so it looks more like this:
In this case, I took four photos but made sure there was considerable overlap between each photo. This is important because when we splice the photos together the tool we use will require this overlap to set up the photos and align them properly.
The other trick, which I learned after my trip unfortunately, is that you want to maintain the same white balance on your camera for each photo. This basically means setting the white balance to a manual setting or turning the auto-balance feature on your camera off. The reason for this is that, especially with outdoor photos, the adjustment of white balance from one photo to the next can throw off the panoramic photo later on. The left side of the photo may look darker or lighter then the right.
Finally, splicing the photo together is actually the easiest part. I know Photoshop does this but since I didn’t have Photoshop, I needed something else, and preferably free,
It turns out, Microsoft offers just this sort of thing from their Windows Live Photo Gallery which is a free download. After installing and adding the photos into the library, I just selected the 4 images I wanted to use and then right-click to “create panoramic photo” and wait. It runs on its own and the end result is a great panoramic photo to save or print out.
I printed mine out to keep at the office using EzPrints if you want to try them.
Did you want to see the final panoramic photo from my trip to the Grand Canyon?