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Tips for Taking Better Panorama Photographs

written by: Stephen Ip•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/11/2010

Taking better panorama photographs can be easy if you keep a few simple things in mind.

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    Panorama photographs are a great way to capture a grand landscape or other vast subjects that simply will not fit into a single frame. Digital photography and photo editing software have made creating panorama photographs much easier for photographers at all skill levels. However, there are certain situations where creating a good panoramic can still be challenging despite the advancements in digital imaging technology. By keeping a few simple tips in mind, it is possible to create panorama photographs that more closely represent the scene that you are trying to capture.

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    Shoot Vertically

    Perhaps the easiest and quickest way to capture better panorama photographs is to simply turn the camera. Most photographers assume they need to shoot in landscape mode as they take the series of photographs because they are panning along the horizontal axis. However, shooting in portrait mode allows more of the scene to be captured in the vertical direction and provides more room to crop once the images have been stitched together.

    The same idea applies if you are capturing multiple images along the vertical axis. For example, shoot a series of images of a tall building in landscape mode to capture more of the scene around the building. This simple change in shooting orientation can go a long way to making the final panoramic better.

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    Focus Manually

    One challenge of creating good panorama photographs is that the camera's auto focus system can sometimes choose different objects to focus on as you capture your series of images. Since the camera does not know you are creating a panoramic, it automatically focuses on the object it thinks you want in focus. This change in focusing points can ruin the look of your panoramic because our eyes are usually drawn to objects that are in focus in an image.

    The best way to avoid this problem is to prefocus you camera and then switch it to manual focus. Before taking the series of images, determine where you want the camera to focus and lock the focus at that point in your scene. Once you have done this, set the camera to manual focus and capture your photos for the panorama. In addition to using manual focus, try to use smaller aperture values such as f/16 or f/22 as this will maximize the amount of the scene that is in focus.

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    Use Manual Exposure

    Capturing panorama photographs with consistent exposure across the scene can be challenging in most outdoor lighting situations. For this reason, it is important to learn to use the manual exposure setting on your camera. By using manual exposure, you the photographer are deciding how you want the scene to look across the entire panoramic. This will ensure the entire picture is exposed exactly the same way.

    To control the exposure of your panorama photograph, look at the scene you plan to capture and determine what is the main subject of the image. Once you know what should be properly exposed, set the exposure according to that area in the scene and switch to manual exposure mode. After taking the series of images, review them to see if parts of each image are over or under-exposed. Adjust the exposure accordingly and reshoot the series for the panoramic. It may take a few tries to get all the images where you want them, but the nice thing about digital photography is the we can fix our images almost instantly.