Panoramic photography is a style of photography that aims to create images with exceptionally wide fields of view, but has also come to refer to any photograph that is cropped to a relatively wide aspect ratio. While there is no formal definition for the point at which "wide-angle" leaves off and "panoramic" begins, truly panoramic image are thought to capture a field of view comparable to, or greater than, that of the human eye - about 160° by 75° - and should do so while maintaining detail across the entire picture. The resulting images are panoramic, in that they offer an unobstructed or complete view of an area - often, but not necessarily, taking the form of a wide strip. A panoramic photograph is really defined by whether the image gives the viewer the appearance of a "panorama," regardless of any arbitrary technical definition.
You can use any kind of camera to make these panorama's, film or digital, but (D)SLR's or camera's which allow you to influence the settings are recommended.
Use a tripod which is completely level, attach the camera on it, again totally level. A very handy gadget to make sure it's actually level is the Double Bubble Camera Spirit Level
, that slides into the camera’s hot shoe and allows you to level the camera on two axes – front-to-rear and side-to-side, for both “landscape” and “portrait” orientations. The reason for this "totally level" is that otherwise your photo will become twisted, one corner higher than the other one, giving you no other option than to crop away a lot of your panoramic photo when it's finished.
Remember that your panorama will be a long but not high photo. I take most panorama's in the “portrait” orientation, as that will give me some added height. It does mean more photo's though.
Put the camera to manual
on everything, including focus. Focus so that the most important things are in focus, with an aperture of f/16 or f/22.
The focus on manual makes sure that you camera will not focus on something close by in one of the shots, and something far off in the distance in the next. That makes sure the inevitable branch that's in the way will have the same (un)focussed look all the way, thus will not take away from the photo.
The small aperture (f/16, remember, the larger the number, the smaller the opening) will make sure that everything behind the point in space your camera is focussed on will in focus.
Lock the exposure, so that there is no change in the recorded brightness values from frame to frame, which will result in lighter or darker parts of your panoramic photo.
Now start shooting with about 20% overlap. You need quite a bit of overlap when you are making a panoramic photo which includes a lake or sandy beach, so you or the program you'll be using can find out where to merge. If there are clouds chasing each other take the photo's fairly quickly so they don't change the light too much.
Prefered time: Golden hour, but not with the sun too low or you'll get lenseflare. (If you have only one frame with lenseflare it does not matter, personally I think it adds to the photo.)
Ok, now you have the photo's. If taken on film scan them in, but adjust your scanner's settings only for the first frame you're scanning in, and keep all the settings the same for the following frames. This will keep your scanner from adjusting to different brightness/darkness per frame, which is unwanted.
For most purposes you will be working with smaller files, so if needed resize them to a longest dimension of say 1100 pixels, which will drasticly reduce the amount of computertime needed, yet still give a great result.
If you have Photoshop you can now let it merge them with the Photomerge function, which you can find under "File", "Automate". Browse to where you placed the files, select all of them and Photoshop will try to set your photo's in the right order, and merge them. If it makes a mistake you can manually pull the photo's in the right order. You have the option of saving the photo's as layers which can be handy if you want to adjust the brightness of the individual frames.
A way better option is to use Autostitch
. It's a free program, don't let the "demo" scare you away. It does not put little autostitch logo's on your panorama, nor does it nag you about having to register. After installing it run it, and go to "Edit", "Options". You need to change some things there, unfortunately everytime you fire up the program. See this screenshot:
In red I've marked the things that have to be changed, the amount of memory in the bottomright depends on the amount you have in your machine of course.
Now just go to "File", "Open" and select all the files that belong to one panorama. (Just click on the first files name, hold Shift and click on the last one.) Now a little wait, and you'll see your panorama appear in the program you use for opening .jpg files. (The resulting file is saved under the name pano.jpg in the directory where the files you used reside.)
Crop the black edges out and you'r done.