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Geek Candy
Easy Panoramas with Photomerge
by rob

While on vacation, you may visit any number of wide-open vistas that span an entire horizon. How do you capture these landscapes and locations without a super-wide-angle lens? You don't need a bunch of fancy hardware and software, just a few simple techniques. This edition of Geek Candy explains how you can show off a wide view of your world.

Step 1: Shoot a panorama
How you shoot is key to making a great panorama.

  1. Shoot on a tripod – this ensures your camera rotates around a fixed spot and stays level.
  2. Shoot vertically – doing so will give you a larger vertical area as opposed to a shallow shot.
  3. Overlap the shots by 25% - this will ensure that Photoshop has enough data from each successive photo to match them up and blend them together.
  4. Lock your exposure – this keeps the amount of light in each photo in the panorama consistent. Look for an Exposure Lock feature on point and shoot cameras. For digital SLRs, take a meter reading (press the shutter button halfway) near the center of the shot and note the f-stop and shutter speed, then use Manual mode to set these values.
  5. Work quickly – clouds and other moving objects will make merging difficult if they move too much.

Step 2: Merge the photos
This is the easy part (if you did step one right). Both Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements have the Photomerge command.

  1. Open all of the individual panorama pieces in either Photoshop or Elements
  2. Run Photomerge
    1. In Photoshop: Go to File > Automate > Photomerge
    2. In Elements: Go to File > Photomerge
  3. In the Use dropdown, select Open files


  4. Make sure "Attempt to Automatically Arrange Source Images" is checked
  5. Click OK and let Photomerge do some thinking

On the main Photomerge dialogue box, the individual images should be arranged correctly. Images that Photomerge doesn't know how to place will be in the row across the top. You can drag these images to where they should go and they should snap into place. Don't worry if it looks like there are thin breaks between shots at this point, Photomerge will blend them in. If it all looks good, click OK.


You're left with one wide image. From here you can adjust colors, clone backgrounds or anything else that Photomerge might have missed.

In this example, I was shooting away from the sun so the foreground has my shadow. Instead of trying to clone myself out of the photo, I decided to crop the photo for an even greater panoramic feel.


I hope this article has inspired you to get out and capture a wide view of your world.


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