Panoramic photographs provide a sprawling view that can communicate the grandeur of a subject or expand what would otherwise be a constrained perspective. With little exception, there is a penalty for achieving this, and it is a penalty we all pay in the form of distortion.
This is exacerbated when stitching multiple wide angle images together leaving us no recourse but to rely upon post production corrections. Rex Jones gives us a 6-minute tutorial to help us create distortion free panoramic images.
Step 1- Import into Photoshop
Click File > Automate > Photomerge
In the Photomerge window, you will be prompted to choose the style of layout you desire and, for this tutorial, select “Auto”. At the bottom of this window, there will be four check boxes. Select these three:
– Blend Images
– Vignette Removal
– Geometric distortion
After this, click “Browse” to select the images you wish to import and merge. You can expect the image to look something trippy like this.
Step 2 – Merge the Visible
Once inside Photoshop, select all of the layers, right-click and select “Merge Visible”
Step 3 – Establish the Horizon
Drag a guide down to the where the horizon should be and to do this you simply drag down from your rulers and the top of your image. After the guide is in place, select and rotate your image as needed.
If your Rulers are not activated:
Click View > Rulers or (CMD + R) on MAC / (CTL + R) Windows
Step – 4 Flatten & Constrain the Image
Click Filter > Adaptive Wide Angle
The side panel on the right will have a dropdown menu that allows to you select the correct style. Select “Panorama”
Constraining the Image
Use the “Constrain Tool” to trace the horizon and when you release the cursor, it will flatten your horizon. After the changes are applied, you can go back and tweak it as you see fit.
Within the Adaptive Wide-Angle Filter, the “Constrain” tool is selected by pressing ‘C’.
After this, you can crop the image to create your final image.
This looks like a very powerful method to combating the inevitable distortion in your panoramic images. Even with low distortion lenses, this will be a handy technique to keep in mind.
If you’d like to learn more about panoramic photography you can check out the Ultimate Panoramic Stitching Workshop.