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Inspiration

5 Tips for Better Panoramic Landscapes

By Anthony Thurston on July 4th 2013

Panoramic imagery is a staple of the nature/landscape photographer. They allow you to capture a wide angle of view that a camera can not normally see at once. Another neat thing about Panorama’s are that they tend to sell well.

pano-4

But what if you are new to landscapes, or photography in general? How can you take these awesome landscapes? I’ve got five tips for you that will greatly improve your panoramic images and get you well on your way to some epic shots.

  1. Use your Camera’s Built-in Level – Having a level shot is imperative to a successful panoramic landscape. Believe me, nothing is worse than getting home and realizing in post production that the shot was not level on an otherwise perfect scene.
  2. Shoot at F8 or Higher – Bokeh is generally not your friend for panoramic landscapes. You want as much in focus as possible, and that means a smaller aperture. As a general rule you should shoot at F8 or higher, I commonly shoot panoramas at F10.
  3. Overlap Overlap Overlap – This is key when you are in the post-production stage of a panoramic image. The more overlap the easier it will be to combine the shots seamlessly. A good rule of thumb here is 1/3 to ½ of each shot should be overlap.
  4. Slow your Shutter – This one is not so obvious, but shooting with a slow shutter speed is a great way to prevent birds or other flying objects from showing up in the final images. If you try this during the day though make sure to have a neutral density filter or you will have problems getting a good exposure.
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the box – We tend to think of panoramas as horizontal images, but in truth they can be very effective vertically as well. Also, when you are framing and deciding on composition remember to think outside of a 4:3 ratio – I would caution against going too wide, because then it becomes hard to get the shot printed, but 16×9 is a good place to start.

Here are some examples of some great Panoramas, maybe they will inspire you when you are out next trying to do one yourself.

pano-1
pano-2
pano-3

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Craig Anthony Perkins

    Coincidentally, I too am currently living in Oregon and just experimented with landscape panorama at Oregon’s Cannon Beach. Comments appreciated! http://www.flickr.com/photos/genshi/9249677107/

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  2. cnccnc

    What about focus? In general would you do manual focus and set the lens on infinity focus?

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  3. christian campo

    You didnt say anything about focal length. Is there any recommendation for a good one say i.e. for an APS-C sensor. (might be different for full frame)

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    • martin

      As wide as possible?

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    • Chester

      Not wide, better longer. I have tried with wider but the distortion makes stitching difficult. A longer focal length makes it much easier to line up the elements in a frame.

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    • jurquijophoto

      Hi Christian! The most appropriate focal length is between 35 mm and 50 mm. It should also be shooting in vertical format

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    • Chris

      I did a few panos this Sunday and the images shot at 135mm were a piece of cake to blend using Photomerge. The images that were shot at 35mm had some crazy distortion and took much warping and skewing to correct. I think it really depends on your subject and the variations in distance throughout the scene. One thing to consider about using a longer focal length is that you will have to take more images to cover the same scene.

      Here are two from the day… http://bit.ly/15yq1JOhttp://bit.ly/12GfjN6

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  4. 5 Tips for Better Panoramic Landscapes | Le pho…

    […] Panoramic imagery is a staple of the nature/landscape photographer. They allow you to capture a wide angle of view that a camera can not normally see at once. Another neat thing about Panorama’s are that they tend to sell well. But what if you are new to landscapes, or photography in general? How can you take these awesome landscapes? I’ve got five tips for you that will greatly improve your panoramic images and get you well on your way to some epic shots.1. Use your Camera’s Built-in Level Having a level shot is imperative to a successful panoramic landscape. Believe me, nothing is worse than getting home and realizing in post production that the shot was not level on an otherwise perfect scene. 2. Shoot at F8 or Higher Bokeh is generally not your friend for panoramic landscapes. You want as much in focus as possible, and that means a smaller aperture. As a general rule you should shoot at F8 or higher, I commonly shoot panoramas at F10.3. Overlap Overlap Overlap This is key when you are in the post-production stage of a panoramic image. The more overlap the easier it will be to combine the shots seamlessly. A good rule of thumb here is 1/3 to ½ of each shot should be overlap.4. Slow your Shutter This one is not so obvious, but shooting with a slow shutter speed is a great way to prevent birds or other flying objects from showing up in the final images. If you try this during the day though make sure to have a neutral density filter or you will have problems getting a good exposure.5. Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the box We tend to think of panoramas as horizontal images, but in truth they can be very effective vertically as well. Also, when you are framing and deciding on composition remember to think outside of a 4:3 ratio – I would caution against going too wide, because then it becomes hard to get the shot printed, but 16×9 is a good place to start.  […]

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