Seam­less stitch­ing

You need to lock down both your cam­era and its set­tings to make stitch­ing easy

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

The Pho­tomerge tool in Pho­to­shop El­e­ments can stitch to­gether over­lap­ping frames so well that you can’t see the joins. But clever as it is, you need to give it a fight­ing chance in the first place. It can iden­tify and align ob­jects which ap­pear in suc­ces­sive frames and cor­rect the lens ge­om­e­try, but it will be thrown by ex­po­sure, fo­cus and White Bal­ance vari­a­tions, so it’s up to you to elim­i­nate as many sources of vari­a­tion as pos­si­ble.

Tri­pod time

To shoot a suc­cess­ful panorama you re­ally need a tri­pod. You can shoot hand-held in an emer­gency, but it’s hard to avoid vari­a­tion in the heights of the frames in the se­quence, which means you’ll have to crop off too much of the pic­ture’s top and bot­tom edges later on to even up the edges.

On the level

You’ll need a head with a sep­a­rate pan­ning axis, and it’s re­ally im­por­tant that you get the base of the tri­pod level so that the cam­era doesn’t tilt as you pan through the se­quence of im­ages. This tri­pod has a bub­ble level, but you can also do a dry run look­ing through the viewfinder to check the cam­era stays straight.

QUICK TIP! If it’s a dull day, try shoot­ing in mono in­stead of colour. A lit­tle dodg­ing and burn­ing will help too

Lock down the set­tings

It’s vi­tal that the set­tings don’t change be­tween shots, so set the cam­era to Man­ual and choose an ex­po­sure that will suit the whole scene. You don’t want the White Bal­ance to change, so choose a man­ual pre­set, such as Di­rect Sun­light. Fi­nally, fo­cus on your sub­ject and slide the fo­cus switch on the lens to ‘M’ to lock the fo­cus.

Pho­tomerge op­tions

Once you’ve got the frames for your panorama on the com­puter, open them in El­e­ments, then open the En­hance menu and se­lect the Pho­tomerge Panorama op­tion. Next, in the Pho­tomerge win­dow, choose the Cylin­dri­cal Lay­out op­tion and click the ‘Add Open Files’ but­ton. Your shots should then ap­pear in the list.

Com­po­si­tion clues

Now take a se­ries of shots which over­lap by around a third of a frame – it doesn’t mat­ter if it’s a lit­tle more than that. Look for strong el­e­ments or land­marks in the pic­ture that you can use as a guide. In this se­quence, the first pier of the bridge is on the right side of the frame, and in the next shot it’s over on the left.

Clone or crop

Click OK, and wait for the panorama to ap­pear. El­e­ments 12 merges the im­ages au­to­mat­i­cally, cor­rect­ing dis­tor­tion and per­spec­tive is­sues as it goes along. At the end it will even of­fer to fill in any gaps at the edges, but if you’re us­ing an older ver­sion that doesn’t do this, you can sim­ply crop off any jagged edges with the Crop tool.

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