The shooting is only seldom a moment when we chill out! There are indeed a few things to think about, look at, check and this demands the greatest attention. Here is why it should be prepared carefully. This is paradoxically less true when shooting gigapixels...
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 nice panoramas, choose your software, your equipment...
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Hand-held or on a tripod?
If naturally we think of the tripod to make this kind of photo, it's still possible in certain situations to take the different photos that will compose the panorama with the camera hand-held. Just a little rule as shown in the illustration: make sure to rotate around the camera and not to rotate the camera around you because of the entrance pupil!
Of all panoramic images I could see for now and unless otherwise specified, in these shooting conditions, I only saw small images - not 3000×10000 pixels - and almost only distant landscapes without a close foreground. They indeed seemed correctly stitched. But what would have happened with the same image in a big format?
Finally, with some small precautions, it's possible to take a large size landscape panorama made with the camera in hand, which is always better than to come back with nothing!
During the preparatives, we've set the field of view of the final photo. We only need to rotate the camera between two views in accordance with the angle covered by the focal used while thinking about the necessary overlap for stitching now.
With a manual head
As shown in the category Photo equipment and if we have a notched rotary base, we only have to rotate the camera to the next notch. So convenient! Without that, it has to be done at sight on the control screen or in the viewfinder. I even think sometimes that the sighting via the viewfinder has its assets if the camera doesn't have a built-in shutter. Indeed, on certain digital cameras like the old or even ancient E10 Olympus, the sighting is reflex by the intermediate of a semi-transparent mirror. If the sunlight or a spotlight comes in the viewfinder, it can definitely veil the photo as I bitterly experienced!
With a motorized head
For gigapixel shootings, the motorized head takes care of everything, once correctly set; almost child's play now! It's even able to wait for the head to be stable before releasing if it's correctly set. This possibility, doubled with the self-timer, allows to avoid any vibration. Very pleasant really...
Correction of exposure
This part is a little bit more tricky because it demands to focus a little. During the phase of measurement of the light - previously - you might have decided to make a correction of exposure to fix a big luminosity difference between the right and the left if your software allows it. This one, as we saw, shouldn't exceed 1/3 diaph between each view.
With a manual head
It's very simple to do because you only have to make that correction after each photo since you control the rotary movement manually. If you want to make two or three photos in front of a window, don't touch the head and take the photos right away. They'll stitch easily with a precision of one pixel since nothing moved.
Reminder: the exposure is made in manual mode and the corrections of exposure must be made by changing the speed only because if we touch the diaphragm, we might slightly change the depth of field hence the neatness of certain details. We now know that even if it's not always visible to the naked eye, the stitching software will know it.
With a motorized head
In gigapixel, corrections can possibly be made but need to be global, because numerous consecutive photos will have the same exposure time. We need to picture the panorama in its whole. It would indeed be ridiculous to make a correction of 1/3 diaph between each photo: in the case of the project Paris 26 gigapixels, each range was made of 137 photos. Multiplied by 1/3 diaph. this would mean 45 diaphragms of correction!!! However, we need to be able to stop the head easily to make this exposure correction AND the focusing for each change of range.
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