Hello Everyone,

In this post, I’ll share my experiences with panorama shots and give information about my equipment (cameras, lenses, computers and software) that I have used properly for panoramas.

To this day, I have shot houndreds of panoramas in Turkey and abroad as well.

Panorama is a “stitch” in terms of construction technique, but it’s mostly used for horizontal photo groups.

After this brief information, I want to say a few words about the purpose of this technique.

You can still find films on the market, but digital tools are more suitable for this type of work, so I will refer to “Megapixel” instead of film format.

First of all,I would like to clarify why we need big size (although this is a technical and very detailed topic on its own).

Let’s remember the rule for the works done with film, which allows each format be used up to 10 times its own size. Of course, this applies to conditions where the image is the most ideal (high image quality).

let’s give an example with the 3 most common formats;

ideal maximum print size for film formats
35mm                    24×36 (2.4×3.6cm)    24x36cm
medium format       6×7 (5.6×6.9cm)      56x69cm
large format           4″x5″ (10×12.5cm) 100x125cm
……………………8″x10″ (20x25cm)  200x250cm

We need panoramas and merging shots when we want to obtain images larger than the current megapixel size, which may be needed for many reasons.

* Especially when it is necessary to take a lot of photos and combine them for a work that requires some detail or if too much retouching is to be done for the final result or on the result obtained.

* As a result of converting photos to smaller size after retouching errors become more difficult to notice (according to the size of the reduction process). The image being tightened after the reduction process, the retouching marks are invisible.

* The pixel capacity of the camera is not sufficient for our purpose. A larger image is needed.

* To obtain larger images while working indoors (especially) with cameras with good “low ASA- performance” but low “image recording size”.

(Sample technical details about Panorama are explained below)

* For technical studies. For example, to create images of very large areas or archaeological sites taken from the air.

* To make a very detailed copy of a work of art or a similar structure. (In this context, this website can be examined.) In general, lighting and lens distortion are serious problems in the reproduction of large-scale artworks so at that point it would be better to shoot the reproduction piece by piece.

* To get a wider angle view than that of our current lens. The point to note here is that the result of the shooting be without distortion.

*Virtual tours.

Although it is not the subject of this article,

(In this context, this website can be reviewed)

I shot my first panoramas on the Bosphorus with a black and white 35mm film as a homework for the late Sabit Kalfagil’s lecture during my university years (1990s).

They remain in my archive as witnesses of the changes that have taken place in Istanbul since those days.

 

 

this picture was taken from Üsküdar coast.

These panoramas generally consisted of maximum 10-15 pictures on a single row, and the prints consisted of 13x18cm or 18x24cm prints.

No wonder there was no digital process at that time, so the prints that made up the panorama were carefully taped on the back side, respecting the overlapping margins.

(The camera, lens and films I used for those panoramas; Canon new F1, 135mm f.2 lens and Ilford black and white 100 ASA FP4 and Fuji 100 ASA negative)

Actually, I’m too meticulous about high image quality in my professional work..

I have done a lot of experiments with 25 ASA Technical pan films (Kodak) in addition to working with high resolution HM (High Modulation) lenses with 4 “x5” and 8 “x10” cameras.

 

 

      8″x10″ Camera

 

15 – 16 years on after,I was researching and experimenting with ways to get bigger and bigger images with a digital camera.

I took photographs with a digital DSLR (Nikon D3X camera and 80-200mm lens) in 2008 with single-row 2-row and 3-row panoramas and larger vertical images from Çamlıca Hill  (20-25 frames each).

These panoramas were shot horizontally using the camera in such a way that they were not too thin and long.

[In 2014, during a backup process, approximately 1,285,000 documents of mine ( 12.5TB ) were damaged.

Over a million documents were directly thrown away, only 50% of the remaining part could be recovered or recreated.

Among these deteriorated documents were old digital works such as the following,visuals,

analog scans,many other material like hundreds pages of notes of my “Photography Book”.

This book was supposed to be of a very large content and I had worked on it for more than 10 years but I gave up publishing]

Below are some examples left of those broken works and they might give an idea.

 

 

 

Here, I  would like to explain some technical details about the visuals you will see. They are all (below) are optimized at 72 dpi h = 800 pixels.

However, as the blog view is optimized according to the screen resolution, you may not see 100 % of the samples in their real size. The size you will get is that being adapted to your screen’s resolution.

Large, vertical examples obtained by assembling (landscape, interior, sculpture, etc.) and explanations.

From Roswell Island to Manhattan 300 dpi 180 x 220 cm this picture consisting of 70 photos was taken with tripod.

Between 2011 and 2017, I took tens of thousands of photos in New York (on various topics), as well as more than 800 panoramas.

I also took thousands of photographs of detail, landscape and building (as below) with the stitching technique beside these photos and panoramas.

The angle seen below is very classic. This, taken  from Roosevelt Island, I have some alternatives of it. This square was chosen because I thought it would look very good on a very large print  (it will be 270x310cm in 200 dpi print size).

 

 

  • 300dpi 122x176cm (This panorama consisting of 83 frames was manually taken.)

    It is unthinkable to be in Rome without visiting the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica as a photographer.  I went up there only twice. İt’s already tiring enough and furthermore I have serious knee problems. Unfortunately the weather was not suitable whereas a light fog added a particular depth. Working conditions on the roof are pretty difficult because you can only see the view from behind the cage, which is set to prevent people to jump.

    Nikon 70-200mm zoom lens does not allow very comfortable movement from this clearance.

    However, it does not mean anything (to me) to take a scene with so much detail in a single frame at such a difficult point.

    You can see all the details that make up this landscape in integrity in this dimension.

 

 

 

Detail of a castle staircase in the Loire area.

(Picture consisting of 16 photos) it was taken by hand.

The reason this frame was taken with the stitching technique (which I mentioned above) is to get a larger view than that of the current lens’ point of view.

The point to mark here is that the result of the shooting should be without distortion.

The Nikon 14-24mm lens does not provide with such distortion-free and wide viewing angles.

 

The reason this frame was shot with the stitching technique is primarily that no one has done this before.

You can not see the ceiling painting in one single plan because of the columns.

In addition to that, also, even if there are no columns, the result image will suffer from the edge distortions of the wide angle ( field width and height will not allow to be shot in a single frame ).

 

 

 

* Saint-Maurice Cathedral in Angers

 (Picture consisting of 40 photos) in the Loire area was taken by tripod.

The Saint-Maurice Cathedral ( Angers ) was a great opportunity for me to try stitching technique in the interior.

As you can see on the RAWs, since the contrast of the lighting of the place is variable,I made a reasonable HDR on some of the frames before assembling in order to avoid wasting them.

The Nikon D810 is 7360 x 4912 pixels, the photo we obtained by assembling is 21308 x 26156 pixels.

*  Saint-Maurice Cathedral, Angers 2015

Assembling steps as seen below (Nikon D810, 70-200mm lens, 40 frames, taken with a tripod) 300dpi 50x350cm

stages of frames

1. plan

 

details

     

 

if taken with D3X in a single frame,
that would be this

 

 

2. plan

 

whereas stages of frames would give this

 

 

* Saint-Gatien Cathedral

( Tours / the Loire ) (Picture consisting of 19 frames) taken by hand.

I shot the facade of this cathedral with a tripod. But when I wanted catch a whole view of it from this angle, I preferred to shoot manually thanks to the lighting conditions beacause I did not have enough time to use tripod.

Because the facade has very detailed ornaments and structural elements, I did assemble frames.

Numerous large stained glasses of the interior were taken with the same technique as well.

My (Nikon D4S) has a good performance of “lower ASA” but not so much of megapixels.

 

 

*  Rome, Borghese  “The Abduction of Proserpina”  Bernini

There you can admire works of many great artists in this place, especially sculpture works that’s my special interest, I took a lot of pictures of those. Especially Bernini’s ones.

Same case as (Nikon D4S) – a good performance of “lower ASA” with lower megapixels.-

May I tell a short story now about my visiting, even though we had bought the tickets 2 hours earlier I was not allowed with my “too big camera”!

I was lucky to convince them about my

camera and my friend put the other lense in pocket.

Often museums and such special places do not let backpacks or shoulder bags. For example, the Cappella Sansevero museum in Naples prevents you from keeping your phone inside because it is strictly forbidden to take pictures.

İt would be useful to know about visiting conditions before and although some museums have safe deposit boxes (even Biometric Fingerprint Safes) most of them do not provide this service.

I happened once to return to my hotel to leave most of my equipment and half a day was lost.

 

And again many museums keep the light conditions at just at a enough level for the eye so it’s an obstacle to professionals having cameras of moderate light performance.

If leds are used for economy purpose this causes problems to the mixed light colors.

In this museum, daylight (5,500K) and hot tungsten (3,200K) lights are mixed. Generally, the upper parts of the sculptures are under the effect of warm light whereas the lower parts are under the effect of daylight.

My (multi-layers kaleidoscopic visuals) have been created by the large-scale (300dpi 150x150cm) sculpture photographs that I took in many museums and here.

I worked in this museum from 4 directions and from different angles (again at large-scale and with assembling technique).

 

 

    • Lacoon Vatican MuseumPio Clementino Museum (Rome)(Picture consisting of 11 frames)

    I shot mostly indoors in the Vatican Museums so almost 80% of the photographs have been created with the same assembling  / stitch technique.

 

 

Panorama examples and experiences;

I would like to give some information on panoramas

and share my experiences. Panoramic view is obtained by two ways. İt can be pulled in one shot or pulled piece by piece and then put together.

Single shot cameras are of two types.

Cameras having fixed aspect ratio and rotating ones.

Since cameras’ history and technologies are a very wide subject, I will not deepen it here.

 

 

In Noblex,(fisheye lens)the image perspective is within the 50 x 170 mm field of view

In Fuji,(wide angle lens)the image perspective is in a fixed within the 56 x 169 mm image area.

You can compare 2 following photos,

shot with Noblex, on the left

shot with Fuji, on the right.

 

  

Note. The photographs above ( shot with cameras operating differently ) have been concluded in different modes of the software Autopano.

 

Projection options of Autopano and Photoshop.

   

 

You will see some examples taken piece by piece to be assembled by digital processing and I will explain some technical details on these visuals.

Panorama shots were used in city photos and landscapes right after the invention of photography, from the first half of the 1800s.

The pictures were being cut off and framed side by side to be assembled correctly as digital stitching was not possible as today.

There are motorized tripod heads compatible with programs such as Autopano, on which you can predetermine the number of horizontal and vertical scanning frames.(vertically and horizontally both with multi-step control)

 

 

        

 

 

GigaPan Epic Pro V Robotic camera                           Clauss example of very big size panorama

https://www.dr-clauss.de/en/new-s/item/400-panaxity-kuala-lumpurhttps://www.dr-clauss.de/en/new-s/item/400-panaxity-kuala-lumpur

Below are some examples taken on city and natural landscapes.

Single-row large panoramas

* Long Island NY. 2017

360 degree panorama, circular fisheye lens,with tripod.

Nikon D850,8-15mm lens,300dpi 38x106cm,4 pictures

 

  • Roosewelt Island NY. 2013360 degree panorama,circular fisheye lens, 4 pictures

Nikon D800, Sigma 8mm lens, 300dpi 23x96cm

This lens was a very problematic in terms of sharpness and depth of field. I sold it the same year.

  

You can have a  review about this lens   

 

  • Paestum ( Southern İtaly ) 20153-row panorama, Nikon D810, 200-400mm lens, 36 pictures, by hand, 300dpi 110x370cm

 

  • Castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire ( France ) 2015single- row panorama,Nikon D810,70-200mm lens, by hand,300dpi 65x122cm

 

* Mont St.- Michell ( Northern France ) 2015

single- row panorama, Nikon D810, 200-400mm lens,  6 pictures by tripod, 300dpi 70x160cm

 

Multi-row & Large size panoramas;

* Oasis Park Manhattan ( New York ) 2017

2-row panorama 360 degrees,Nikon D850,with 45mm shift lens,50 pictures,by tripod,300 dpi 110x612cm

 

 

2-row panorama Nikon D850,45mm Shift lens,34 pictures,by tripod,300dpi 30x110cm

 

 

*  North Cove Yacht Harbor ( New York ) 2013

2-row panorama

Canon 5D MII, 17mm Shift lens, 8 pictures by tripod, 300dpi 87x160cm

 

 

The exposure time of each frame for the photo above is 10 seconds and 20 seconds for the photo below. So this allowed me to shoot both at the same time.

 

 

*    Vatican (Roma) 2014

3-row panorama, Nikon D800, 70-200mm lens, 12 pictures,by tripod,300dpi 90x176cm

 

 

  • Manhattan from Williamsburg Bridge ( New York ) 20153-row panorama, Nikon D4S, 200-400 mm lens, 24 pictures,by tripod,300dpi 70x160cm

 

  

This panorama was taken from behind the wire cage

at the exit point of the Williamsburg bridge and

f/4 diaphragm was preferred to make the wire cage invisible. You see that shooting point below.

       this point

 

*

Brooklyn Bridge

2 – row panorama, Nikon D810, 70-200mm lens, 40 pictures, by tripod,300dpi 60x365cm

 

Forum / Roma 2014

2 – row panorama,Nikon 850, 700-200mm lens 30 pictures, by tripod, 300dpi 50x135cm

 

 

*  World Trade Center from Pier 45 (Christopher Street Pier), Manhattan New York ) 2017

2 – row panorama, Nikon 850, 700-200mm lens,18 pictures,by tripod,300dpi 100x272cm

 

 

  • Pier 15 Manhattan, New York 20132 – row panorama 360 degrees,Nikon D3X,taken with 24mm lens,38 pictures,by tripod,300dpi 50x350cm

 

 

  • Chicago 2010   2 – row panorama, Nikon D3X, 80-200mm lens, 16 pictures,by tripod,300dpi ?x?

 

Amboise, Loire ( France ) 2015

2 -row panorama, Nikon 810,200-400mm lens,by tripod,300dpi 125x450cm

*

 

  • Amboise Loire 20152 – row panorama, Nikon 810, 200-400mm lens,by tripod,300dpi 70x227cm

 

  • Madison Square Park Manhattan ( New York ) 20173-row panorama,Canon 5DS R ,24mm shift, 22 pictures,by tripod,300dpi 130x307cm

 

 

  •  Napoli from Museo Novecento Napoletano ( İtaly ) 20144-row panorama, Nikon D810, 700-200mm lens, 174 pictures,by hand,300dpi 100x540cm

 

  • Acrocorinth Korinthos ( Greece ) 20144 -row panorama, Nikon D810, 70-200mm lens, 38 pictures, by hand, 300dpi 195x736cm

 

Meteora ( Greece ) 2015

2 – row panorama, Nikon D810, 500mm lens, 89 pictures,by tripod,300dpi 114x350cm

 

*

Yosemite National Park ( California )

3- row panorama, Nikon D3X, 80-200mm lens, 43 pictures,by tripod,300dpi 110x365cm

 

 

 

Very big size panoramas;

Huge Athens Panorama (300dpi / 2.8x16m);

5-row of pictures (180 frames each) were taken for this panorama,a total of 900 frames.

The shooting point was not too crowded so I finished my work in 1 hour.

For each frame and row spacing, I used the spinning wheel of the Manfrotto MA400 head by rotating it by a quarter turn for horizontal movement and half a turn for the row lines.

900 frames were rendered in the Autopano in 5-6 hours on a Dell workstation PC. The initial raw version of the panorama was 3.2x22m, the file size was about 45GB, and it took 10 minutes for the workstation PC to open this photo. 🙂

After a few retouching and editing of the size (2.8x16m) it was adjusted to a relatively reasonable size.

Print size 200dpi 4.2x24m

Those who take similar shots from this point will see that the antennas enter the image.

You will notice the antenna on the right in the behind-the-scenes photo and in the one of night shot below.

What I did was another vertical assembling to solve this problem so that the antenna does not enter the image after a very small horizontal shift from the shooting point.

Even though the ram is 256 GB, retouching process and saving this file takes a lot of time on a 45 GB photo.

So these vertical frames were retouched where the antenna was seen in the normal panorama in order to re-create it without the antenna in one go.

The huge Athens panorama ( exactly 898 frames ) was shot with the Nikon D810, 300mm lens, at T = 1/500 and f: 11 at 200 ASA.

The shooting took approximately 2 seconds between two frames and the total waiting time reached 30 minutes. ( total duration was 1 hour )

Huge Panorama of Athens from Lycabettus hill

Panorama has a viewing angle of 220 degrees

 

 

 

5 row panorama (Nikon D850, 300mm lens, 898 pictures, with tripod),300dpi, 280x1600cm

 

Details;

Detail  No.1

Detail  No.2

Detail  No.3

Detail No.4

Detail No.5

Detail No.6

Detail No.7

Detail No.8

Detail No.9

Detail No.10

 

 

 

     this point

Panorama shooting took about 1 hour

Night version of the same Panorama

Nikon D810, 70x200mm lens, 93 frames,with tripod, 300dpi 80x660cm

 

 

  • assembling ( horizontally ) of indoor shots by Autopano

Planar

assembling ( horizontally ) of indoor shots by Photoshop CC

Planar

after process of assembling with Photoshop

 

perspective edited and final cropping

 

 

 

Curvilinear

 

 

Things to be considered

You’d better do an examination of the place before beginning to take photographs and if possible, have a look on previously taken frames, and take some visual notes on the site.

The light conditions and the sunset angle should be evaluated as well as accessibility of the shooting place. For example,many parks in the USA are closed by the police after sunset.Crowdedness is also an issue that needs attention. The biggest problem with the crowd is that people might come into contact with your set while shooting.

Someone hitting your tripod in panoramic shots causes the whole work to go to waste.

Often people seeking the same angle or time move around (at the most critical time for the photographer) and this will risk your shooting.

Sometimes a person being indifferent to your request to step away for a few seconds spoils your shooting.(unfortunately this has happened several times)

Long exposures or shots with multiple frames require your tripod to be stable.

Hanging something heavy on your tripod will help you to prevent it from shaking.

İt wouldn’t be easy to get a bag stuffed of stones and hang it on your tripod like in my country !

You can try with your backpack or some bottles of water..

I always carry velcro straps and wires to fix my tripod.

 

 my notes on tools 

   

   

   

 

 

Like Chicago panorama above,it is necessary to pay attention to the order of exposure and shooting of plans that have a tonal difference in the sky after sunset.

The row in which the sky is predominant should be shot first.

At this point, it is more advantageous to work fast with a camera with high ISO performance instead of a large megapixel machine.

Advantages of a small size but high ISO performance camera:

The panoramas I made at sunrise on Roosevelt İsland consisted of 3 rows and 50 photos in each row.

The camera I used for these panoramas was the D810.İt has a poor ISO performance and it’s more suitable for working at daylight.

Exposure was 200 ASA T = 10s f: 16

150 frames,each of 10 seconds and intervals of 2 seconds between 2 shot [(150x10s) + (150x2sec)] / 60 sec = 30 min.

I took the same panoramas with a “high ISO performance” camera D4S;

Exposure 1.600 ASA T = 1.25sec f: 16
[(150 × 1.25sec) + (150x2sec)] / 60sec = 8min

All photos were taken faster as dimensions of the panoramas were smaller due to the difference in MP (image size ).The tone balance of the whole panorama has been more accurate.

Working with the D810 gave me the opportunity to take 4 different photos at the same time.

 

 

Remember there is a continuous resonance on the Brooklyn Bridge due to traffic. You need to work with high shutter speeds, especially for night shots and working with a “high ISO performance” D4S camera makes this possible.

 

Some frames need to be taken for HDR purposes to correct such differences in exposure.

The panorama below is a good example of this.

Since the place was a museum area, I couldn’t use a tripod, so I did not have the chance to take a few more “less exposed frames” to adjust the brightness of the sun.

Panoramas of over 50 frames had better have larger margins of overlays.

After determining the boundaries of the area, you had better shoot a few more frames so as not to regret having missed a view. You can allways have the whole frame narrowed but you can not find the image that has not entered the frame.

To respect the direction of shooting (scanning), as from right to left for the first row, from left to right for the 2nd row, from the right to the left for the 3rd row and so on reduces the possibility of error.

İf you feel you have skipped a frame, take some frames from its vicinity.

The panorama programs can correct slight irregularities of frames and even if some frames are taken in the aftermath, this will not be a problem.

If a special head for the tripod is used, make sure prevent camera and lens shake. ( be it minimal at least )

( you can find some examples of precaution in my other blog linked below )

Also take wind into account and the shutter should be operated with a remote wireless trigger.

If 300 mm and longer focus lenses are to be used “low shutter value” ​​limits should be tested by the wind meter.

Time intervals should be shorter than the reliable values ​​obtained from this test result.

In order to stop the flickering, wait 1.5-2 seconds between the movements.

The pictures in Amboise were shot from 2 different angles on 2 different days.

I settled there 2 hours before the shooting.

You could think of a portable seat or a light three-legged stool such as Walkstool (750 gr with the cover ).

 

 

If you you have to work in the dark or you return from the shooting point in the dark a headlamp will be useful. (the light intensity can be adjusted)

 

  • Paris from the Montparnasse Tower 2015single-row panorama, Nikon D810, 70-200mm lens, 8 pictures, by tripod, 300dpi 50x105cm

waiting before shooting  !

When I first went there in 2012 it was not possible to take this panorama in a limited time. The glasses on the terrace seen in the photo above had not yet been placed on the viewing platform. I was only able to take this panorama in 2015. However, because of the narrow gaps I was able to take panoramas of 8 squares in a single row.

At a critical time like sunset, I had some unpleasant dialogues with some of visitors

because of lack of free space to take pictures.

I think professionals expect a bit more respect in such situations..

you can take a look on my page

 Troubles and trouble shooting tips for working with long focus lenses Best stabilizer solution for long focus lenses


My equipment (2008 – 2017)

Tripods

Manfrotto MA160, (Old version)

Sirui 4203L Carbon 8X,

Foba Mini Universal,

Levelers

Manfrotto MA 338

Sunwayfoto DYH-90i Leveling Base

it provides fast adjustment.

Panoramic Tripod Heads

Manfrotto MA 400

İt is highly stable and makes possible to use every direction of movement at intervals such as a full turn, half turn or ¼ turn. I used this head while working with 8×10″ cameras.

Acratech Panoramic Head,

Arca-Swiss that provides 360 degrees of pan and ± 90 degrees of tilt movement.

This head is capable of dealing with large weights since it has the ability to squeeze 2 layers and does not slip or not stretch under any circumstances.

Nodal Ninja RD16 II Advanced Rotator (üzerinde Sunwayfoto Discal Clamp 64mm ve DMP-100R Nodal Slide)

A pan head that can be operated with great precision and solid control with threaded grooves that allow certain degrees of movement and screws securing those grooves

Cameras and lenses I have used in work

Cameras

Nikon D3X (24.5MP)

Nikon D810 (36.3MP)

Nikon D850 (45.7MP)

Nikon D4S (16.2MP)

Canon 5DS R (50.6MP)

Lenses

Nikon 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED, AF-S Fisheye

Nikon 24-70mm f.2.8 G ED

Nikon 80-200mm f:2.8 IF

Nikon 70-200mm f:2,8E FL ED VR I ve VR II

Nikon 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED, AF-S VR

Nikon 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift, PC-E Micro

Nikon Nikon 300 mm f:2.8 ED IF AF

Nikon 500mm F/4 ED IF AI-S

Nikon 800mm F/5.6 ED IF AI-S

Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift

Sigma 24mm f:1.4 DG HSM ART

Memory Cards for Camera

Sandisk SD 32-64 GB CF (400-1066X)

Lexar CF 32-64 GB (400-1066X)

Sony 64 GB XQD (400 MB/sn read-write)

Computers

Dell Work Station I

Win, 8-10 pro

2x Intel Zeon E5 2.6

4GB GeForce 1080 GTX

256GB Ram 1064MHz

2xSSD

Work Station II

Win 7-10 pro

Intel i7 4GHz

4GB K4200 Nvidia Quadro

64GB Ram 1200MHz

2xSSD

Softwares

Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop 4 – CC

Kolor Pano / Autopano pro

 

 

 

Please send your questions by the email addresses on my webpage.

You will receive a reply.

Thank you.