When stitching a panorama, the result of all our efforts will finally appear! But unlike film-based panoramic photography that implied choosing a camera according to your tastes and needs - wider or narrower field of view, bended distortion or not - thanks to digital photography, you get to decide last-minute, into the stitching software. Let's see that now...
If you're a beginner...
A new part of this guide is now dedicated to you. There you'll find simple pieces of advice to implement to stitch beautiful panoramas, choose your software, your hardware...
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Basic principles of photo stitching
The stitching software has several things to do, completely automatically:
Compare the details of two consecutive pictures and and stitch them together, whenever possible automatically, if not manually;
Transform them in two different ways depending on the piece of software and the final result expected; - bended or rectilinear -;
Finally, harmonize shades and/or luminosity differences in accordance with the chosen stitching software.
Geometric transformations are detailed on the page dedicated to geometric projections but we'll see very quickly the main categories of geometries.
Either it will distort the images to keep them rectilinear, which means straight, or it will distort them to bend them.
These three pictures will be stitched using the same stitching software but two different categories of geometric transformations...
Orthoscopic, straight and rectilinear
Is used when a line is straight. The term rectilinear can also be used. In this case, the horizontal lines are not bended - tiled - but remain straight after stitching. This type of stitching makes the final picture look like a photo taken with a specialized camera with a very wide field of view like the Fuji 617 or the X Pan equipped with its 30-mm in film-based photography.
This image is typical of a rectilinear projection: all the straight lines remain straight but the edges of the panorama are stretched from a certain field of view, in general over 90Â°. The columns of the central bay of the nave look very stretched.
Tiled, spherical or bended
The big difference between specialized software and the stitching function in Photoshop, for instance, is that dedicated software can curve any horizontal line (as a rotating device would do). Which means that it is going to curve all of the straight horizontal lines to manage to stick them together. There's thus going to be a real transformation of the image and not only a collage by superimposition like could have done a photo editing software like Photoshop, without using Photomerge of course.
This image is typical of a bended or spherical projection: all straight lines bend but the skyline, and the edges of the panorama keep pleasant and harmonious proportions.
Proportions of a panorama
The artistic outlook of the panorama photographer first expresses by the type of deformations he wants for his panorama, but also by the proportions he wants to give it. A 1/3 ratio is a classic, but he can as well choose freely the ratio he wants with the stitching method because it's not given by the camera, unlike film-based photography. However, too much freedom sometimes gives very different results, not always so consistent when you want to make a series... I thus recommend to choose for instance two ratios at most, that you'll use all the time.
Already panoramic: the ratio 1/2
This ratio isn't very usual in panoramic photography but some consider it a panoramic ratio.
The classic ratio: 1/3
The ratio 1/3 is a classic panoramic ratio, whether the picture be bended or straight.
The 360°, ratio 1/7
The ratio 1/7 is also typical from 360Â° panoramas, but depending on the focal used for the shot, it may be larger... or shorter.
The rest will all depend on the stitching software you'll choose and the options it will offer. The tutorials dedicated to stitching software from this guide are about the highly versatile Autopano Giga / Pro, its direct competitor PTGui and the marginal Photomerge of Photoshop. The next page is dedicated to different panorama stitching pieces of software on the market - Photo stitching software
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