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When Is A Panorama Too “panoramic”?

Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/12/2013 - 12:42 AM

I only occasionally do panoramas, but my trip this weekend inspired me to create a number of wide panoramic images. It seemed like anything less does not adequately convey the vastness of the Saint Mark’s Wildlife Refuge along the Gulf coast of Florida’s panhandle.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what proportions make for a perfect panorama and how well they sell?

Also, feel free to post some of your panoramic images here.

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Oldest Reply

Posted by: Greg Norrell on 06/12/2013 - 1:18 AM

Lynn - my proximity to a long, linear mountain range (Tetons) has resulted in my doing lots of panoramas over the years. I love them. They look great printed and framed. Unfortunately, they sell way less than traditional sizes. I keep hoping that will change. Your examples above are perfect examples for when a pano is needed. And I like the style you used framing one or both edges with something close to provide both perspective and a boundary. Keep it up! Maybe a trend will be born. Here's one of mine from last week -

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Posted by: Gregory Scott on 06/12/2013 - 1:29 AM

As a pragmatic approximation, I don't ever recall seeing a pano with an aspect ratio in excess of 1:4 or 1:5, or thereabouts. I have some much narrower than that, and have never sold one in any size. But I always exclude prints with a dimension less than 4 inches, which means that a 1:15 print at minimum size would be 4x60. That's a very expensive print, in terms of printing, and much more so in terms of mounting and framing. I would only expect to ever sell one as a "bare" print, to be mounted and framed locally.

I doubt very much that anyone would want a 1"x15" print, nor that FAA would be very interested in mounting, framing, and shipping it!

I have tried the strategy of cutting them into polyptychs, whereupon people have bought specific panels without buying the whole thing.
I think any width up to a 1:3 aspect ratio has a decent chance, but beyond that, interest become very rare.


Posted by: Greg Norrell on 06/12/2013 - 1:40 AM

Here's a six shot pano. Rarely would one need such an exteme aspect ratio. It has not sold on FAA, but elsewhere. I didn't realize I could leave the smaller sizes price boxes empty when I began doing them. I recommend doing that to avoid overpriced bookmarks.

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Posted by: Jenny Armitage on 06/12/2013 - 1:46 AM

@ Lynn, I like the more panoramic version better. The question for me is not how narrow and skinny, but what degree of view. Much more than the eye can see at once and i ceases to be good.


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 06/12/2013 - 2:36 AM

Well, Gregory, here is a 6:1 ratio:

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Unfortunately, the maximum print width FAA does is only eight feet. I fail to see why FAA wouldn't want to print or ship anything - every job has a profit applied to it, so the expense falls on the purchaser.

The standard ratio for a photographic panorama was, I suspect, dictated by the length of a roll of 120 film and the image circle of a lens of reasonable size and price. The film is about 75cm long, so you can fit four 17cm wide frames onto it, with an aspect ratio of 3:1. That can be done using a lens with an image circle large enough to cover a 5x4in large format negative (if it allows for some camera movements). If you want to fit just three frames onto a roll of 120, then your image size becomes roughly 24cm wide, with a ratio of 4:1 and you would have to use lenses for the rather rarer 5x7inch large format cameras, with about 120mm as the widest wide-angle able to cover the film. Doing that adds a lot of weight and size to the system without adding anything to the angle of coverage (since a 72mm super-angulon on an 18cm wide negative will have greater coverage than a 120mm super-angulon on a 24cm wide neg). A 17x6 negative already has all the resolution you could want - maybe 200MP-300MP - so adding an extra 100MP or so on by going to a 3:1 ratio doesn't add anything in practical terms and costs you some of the image coverage. 6:1 (two shots per roll) is simply not feasible with 120 film as you won't get any reasonable size lens with an image circle of 36cm+.

An alternative old-timers' method of shooting panos was to cut a dark-slide in half, so they could shoot first the top, then the bottom of a sheet of 5x4 film, creating a 5x2 or 2.5
:1 ratio panorama (which is something I might try myself in situations with a lot of wasted foreground or sky) but it is a lot harder to use sheet film than to use 120 rollfilm.

So there are some good reasons why traditional pano sizes are ratios of 2.5:1 or 3:1, and that still seems to be something of a norm (I believe Peter Lik shoots with a Linof Technorama 617 giving 3:1 for his photos.

(P.S.: I see my pano has a minimum size of 1.38 inches - so if any Chania-philes want an expensive bookmark, there is is!)


Posted by: Ben and Raisa Gertsberg on 06/12/2013 - 5:02 AM

We have not done ones with more than 3:1 ratio but I like the long ones too if they remain interesting while your eye is following the composition :)

Art by Ben and Raisa Gertsberg Corona Del Mar Panorama

Art by Ben and Raisa Gertsberg Joshua Tree National Park


Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/12/2013 - 5:18 AM

I’ve been specializing in stitched panoramas for couple of years now. Even if this technique allows you to go for outstanding ratio (1:4 and more), I’m trying to limit ratio to 1:3
By experience, and as Gregory said, panos over 1:4 are getting more difficult to sell.

However, my outstanding images ratio (1:5 and more) are mainly used for large prints and rarely sold to individuals but mainly companies who can afford the price.
I just signed for a contract where 5 of my panos will be exposed in a big local supermarket… prints will be 8 by 2.5 meters !

As an example, here is a panorama of the area where I’m living. I also sold a 5 meters long print recently !
This one is a stitched panorama of more than 100 shots… more than 1 gigapixels

Gigapixel Tour
If you want to navigate within this image... click on it !


Posted by: David Bishop on 06/12/2013 - 6:00 AM

I've always loved panos I used to take them with my film camera and tape them together stitching programs are great and have improved much since they first came ou tI generally try to stick to 1:3 but have many larger these 2 larger ones have sold the college campus one has sold to students and teachers and the university is buying one for permanent display
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Posted by: Jane McIlroy on 06/12/2013 - 6:13 AM

I enjoy doing panoramas and this one has sold a few times. The only drawback is that they don't show up very well as thumbnails.

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Croagh Patrick, Ireland's Holy Mountain


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/12/2013 - 10:02 AM

Wow, you guys have some beautiful panos. It's a shame they don't sell more often but I think Gregory has a good point about the smallest sizes not being practical. I'll have to eliminate those from the list. And as Patrick pointed out the larger sizes cost a lot and may be purchased mostly by companies. To me it seems like buyers would probably accept a 1:3 ratio without thinking about it as being a pano.


Posted by: Harry Lamb on 06/12/2013 - 10:33 AM

@Patrick - Nice work! Do you recommend a Noda Ninjal when you are taking a more than six or so shots for a Pano? It seems difficult to keep things in perspective without one. If I get a couple of more sales on FAA I will probably invest in a Noda Ninjal for sure. That is when Pano Pro will also be needed.

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The above shot was a four shot pano hand held. I'm just a beginner.

Harry lamb


Posted by: Cynthia Decker on 06/12/2013 - 10:38 AM

I had a panoramic work for sale a few years ago, and it wasn't selling.

I mocked up a framed version over a fireplace mantel, posted a link to that image on the same page as the pano image, (a kind of 'view it in a room' thing) and added keywords like "art for fireplace", and "art for mantel". I sold 4 of them within a couple months.

Just a suggestion that helped me.


Posted by: Mary Bedy on 06/12/2013 - 10:39 AM

Lynn, I love the wider version. That's beautiful.

I used to use one of those cheap APS cameras that had a panorama setting. I have no idea what the ratio was. It also depended on where I got the photos developed how long (wide) the actual print came out, which I thought was odd because the equipment was set up at the time to handle the "APS" ratios.

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Posted by: Steven Ralser on 06/12/2013 - 11:08 AM

I have this extreme panorama (180°) which I took many years at the Bosque del Apache. I was at the Bosque with my then 2 yo and brand new Canon G3, and took this panorama, handheld, before I knew better. I old a fair few of these while we still lived in NM, but only 1 since moving to WI. These sort of panoramas can fill a certain spot in somebodies house.

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My curretn best selling panorama, both in color and B&W is this one of the Madison skyline (1:3 ratio)

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other panoramas that I have that sell periodically are the following

Art PrintsArt Prints:

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I haven't sold any on FAA


Posted by: Brian Wallace on 06/12/2013 - 11:42 AM

There may be rules for aspect ratio, and there may be print limitations by certain printing shops, but I have never heard of a width limitation after the minimum aspect ratio was met. I've seen many 360 degree digital panos even in 3D. I would guess you could go up to 360 degrees on a print if the printing shop has equipment to make it.

Most of my "panoramic" images are done by cropping but this is one of the few I've created with more than one image combined together. I did not use a stitching program but manually matched the images together in Photoshop...

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Posted by: Gregory Scott on 06/12/2013 - 12:25 PM

Here's one of my favorites, broken into 5 panels as a polyptych.
When you click a thumbnail, you see a watermarked 1/3 resolution version, but your browser will have shrunk it. Click it in your browser to see it at 1/3 resolution, (900 pixels high), and f11 for full screen browser mode (in firefox, anyway), and then scroll to see the entire panel.

I think that this layout is a much better presentation of a very high aspect ratio pano than FAA is likely to offer any time in the forseeable future.
I think a java applet to display a wide pano in a popup window similar to this would be quite useful for effectively selling panos.
You won't buy one if you can't visualize how much detail a large print will hold.


Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/12/2013 - 1:07 PM

@Harry, Thanks for your comment.
Most of the time I’m using a tripod with Nodal Ninja panoramic head. I would say panoramic head is mandatory if you have a close foreground. Using the pano head and the famous nodal point will help you avoiding parallax issues.

This one is a good example
Photography Prints

Outside this foreground constraint, there are several panos I did without any tripod. With some experience, you can shoot very large panos like the following one : a 180° view of Los Angeles… around 80 shots.


Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/12/2013 - 1:14 PM

Gregory, your visualization point is key.
That's why I'm using Zoomify to publish some of my panos (see my previous post)

This one is based on some small flash component which is an issue with ipad and itouch devices. I didn't take time to look for a html5 equivalent but I'm sure there is something... somewhere !


Posted by: Bob Slitzan on 06/12/2013 - 1:15 PM

I love doing panoramas, but keeping the ratio within reason is very important and the subject matter has to be interesting from one end to the other. This is one of my own favorites (4 shots). Notice how you can see the curve of the earth.
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Posted by: Paul Cowan on 06/12/2013 - 1:27 PM

Is that really the curvature of the earth or is it a fish-eye effect created by stitching, Bob? I had to use a fisheye projection to stitch this one, as it minimised the amount of masonry in the foreground:
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Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/12/2013 - 1:37 PM

Curvature can come from multiple factors : a combination of the way you shoot, the overlap you keep between each shot, lens focal,projection used...

Paul, I have a pano similar to you , with a flat horizon...


Posted by: Shane Bechler on 06/12/2013 - 1:39 PM

I find that most people only do horizontal panoramic images. I've been working on vertical panoramic images as well over the past couple years.
Here is a vertical and horizontal panorama of the same church.
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I have yet to sell a panoramic image here.


Posted by: William Norton on 06/12/2013 - 2:13 PM

This is both a vertical and horizontal panorama of Niagara Falls from the US side looking at Niagara Falls Canada. It is 26 shots

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William Norton


Posted by: Angelina Vick on 06/12/2013 - 8:04 PM

I like the widest version you posted Lynn.


Posted by: Joshua House on 06/12/2013 - 8:42 PM

This one is about 3:1 and a personal favorite of mine.

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Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/12/2013 - 9:59 PM

Thank you, I also like my widest version Angel. I posted the shorter one for those that don't have space for the longest version. I've also edited to remove the sizes that are less than 3.5" in the small direction. I also eliminated all cards from the panos.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/12/2013 - 10:01 PM

I was taught to take portrait shots for stitching together into panos and to allow a fair bit of overlap between images. In the case of those above I shot them in landscape because the terrain is so flat and treeless. This seems to help minimize distortions.

Shane, I like the vertical orientation. It's less commonly used but for vertical structures and waterfalls it can be effective. I did a vertical pano of the following image to improve resolution of the final image.

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Posted by: Nicholas Evans on 06/12/2013 - 10:01 PM

I think mine might be too much

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Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/12/2013 - 10:07 PM

William, I've never tried both a vertical and horizontal pano in one image. Does your software handle all the images at the same time? Are you using Photoshop?

Nicholas, it's a beautiful image. It may not be too much but I don't think the sizes that are only 1-3" high are viable.


Posted by: Glenn McCarthy Art and Photography on 06/12/2013 - 10:16 PM

A good, large panoramic can be mind blowing. I've been in lots of Medical Institutions recently and one particular panoramic of the Antelope Acres Poppy Reserve, in canvas, blew me away! It was probably a 3 to 1 ratio.

Here's one that was three stitched together... a 3.75 to 1 ratio approximate. It's my favorite.

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But this one has garnered lots more attention:

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I would love to see more attention to this form.


Posted by: Carl Rolfe on 06/12/2013 - 10:18 PM


Posted by: Brian Wallace on 06/12/2013 - 11:15 PM

Pano Sunset Silhouette...

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Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/13/2013 - 3:46 AM

Lynn, Photoshop can be used for simple panos where you just need to stitch few shots.
When you start stitching multiple lines, then you need to go for specific software. I’m using Autopano Giga which is a great one and not really expensive.
There are several stitching software (I let you search on Google) and for some of them you can start playing with free evaluation version (adding a watermark on result image).

For those who are interested in photo stitching technique, I published few weeks ago some blog posts :
Photo stitching - What are the benefits ? :
Photo stitching - Quick tutorial :
Photo stitching - Virtual tours :


Posted by: William Norton on 06/13/2013 - 5:55 AM

Lynn I use PtGui Pro for the stitching. It can handle both at the same time.

Here is another vertical and horizontal of 18 shots

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Posted by: Claude Oesterreicher on 06/13/2013 - 8:18 AM

I think I went ONE too many on this 6-shot. :((

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Posted by: Joe Beasley on 06/13/2013 - 8:26 AM

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Depends on the subject, Here is a 360+ degree made with a Roundshot Panoramic Camera


Posted by: Bob Slitzan on 06/13/2013 - 8:31 AM

@Paul, @Patrick
If it's not the curve then I must have seen the illusion without the camera at over 10,000 feet in Hawaii. On a clear day, you can see it with the naked eye from the top of a lot of tall buildings in NY depending on the distant topography. BTW, the 4 shots (there were 5) taken by hand were not taken with a wide angle lens.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/13/2013 - 9:55 AM

@Paul. Going back to your earlier post, you question why they don't produce larger images than 8' long. I'm guessing it's due to substrate and shipping constraints. Prints can be produced on roll goods but most substrates come in 4x8 ft sheets and only some can be purchased in 4x10 ft sheets. Significant support framing is needed to piece them together. Support frames for a canvas, decorative framing and glass for framed prints, packaging and shipping all become problematic as well. Of course it can be done but it requires a level of customization that is probably beyond the POD venue.

Edit: Maybe an option for custom sizes and pricing could be added to the order page to accommodate special requests by commercial clients.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/13/2013 - 9:58 AM

@Patrick. Your blog posts look interesting and I'll definitely look into them.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/13/2013 - 9:12 PM

Patrick, your blogs on panos are excellent. The detail in the art gallery pano is incredible.


Posted by: Duane McCullough on 06/13/2013 - 11:49 PM


Posted by: Heather Applegate on 06/13/2013 - 11:53 PM

I just sold this one today at 36"x7.88"
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Posted by: Craig Carter on 06/14/2013 - 12:06 AM

Congrats Heather! This is my first one. I don't like that there is no shoreline on at least one side of the lake.

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Posted by: James Brunker on 06/14/2013 - 9:29 PM

I love stitching panoramics (South America's awesome landscapes demand them!) but not sold any yet on here. Some of my panoramic postcards have sold quite well in shops in Bolivia. Here's a couple from a recent trip to Chile:
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Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/14/2013 - 10:18 PM

It's a beautiful image Heather, congratulations on the sale!


Posted by: Gregory Scott on 06/14/2013 - 10:36 PM

Heather, that's quite an accomplishment. As I said, I've never sold one pano. You would think that visitors to National Parks would enjoy them enough to search them out.


Posted by: William Norton on 06/15/2013 - 6:47 AM

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The Vietnam War Memorial in Rochester, New York Panorama


Posted by: Brian Wallace on 06/16/2013 - 1:06 PM

This image was not created with a pano in mind. I often take several pictures of the same subject or scene, partially because I may want to create a stereo pair which is made of two images from slightly different perspectives. In any case, I was looking at the photos I took of a winter snow taken in March and saw two that could be possible prospects for merging together. No stitching program was used but there was quite a bit of work done in PS to match the two images together...

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Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/16/2013 - 2:08 PM

Hope springs eternal...this is my latest pano effort posted this afternoon.

It's comprised of 4 landscape images in a single row.

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Posted by: Michael Peychich on 06/16/2013 - 2:30 PM

some of my better selling panoramas are these
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Sell Art Online usually 60 to 74" wide for over sofas

Photography Prints This one I always print at 62" in height works well in stairwells.

Art Prints this one I am currently having two printed at 27x68" One is going on a marble wall in a master bath.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/16/2013 - 3:11 PM

Michael, your work is beautiful. I especially like the Skagway Waterfall.


Posted by: Chris Kusik on 06/16/2013 - 5:27 PM

Two 6x9 cm negatives "stitched".

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Posted by: Crystal Wightman on 06/16/2013 - 9:10 PM


Posted by: Brian Wallace on 06/17/2013 - 1:24 AM


Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/17/2013 - 2:57 AM

Another stitched pano - 19 pictures

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Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/17/2013 - 8:47 AM

There's a lot of beautiful work being posted. I would request those who haven't already done so to edit their posts and include the number of images used to create the their panos, whether the individual images were oriented as landscape or portrait, and the configuration (eg. 8 images on 2 rows).


Posted by: Les Palenik on 06/17/2013 - 9:53 AM

It's not easy to make a compelling panoramic image. It's not so much about the proportions as about the content, composition, and balance.
There are many outstanding panoramic examples featured in this thread.
Unfortunately, many beginners make long images of boring scenes or shoot with extra wide lens which produces deformed and unattractive pictures.
The typical panorama ratio is 1:3, but I've seen spectacular pieces in 1:5 and 1:10 ratio.
One of the most successful panoramic photographers is Peter Lik, whose prints are quite huge and many are priced over $10,000.

Here is one I got last summer from Georgian Bay coastline in Ontario:
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Posted by: Les Palenik on 06/17/2013 - 10:01 AM

Here are a few more:

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Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/18/2013 - 4:27 PM

Let's go for another one... 81 pictures (4 lines) - always in portrait mode !

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Posted by: Brian Wallace on 06/18/2013 - 5:16 PM

Taken at Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena, Maryland...

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Photography Prints


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/19/2013 - 2:08 AM

Patrick, I'm dying of curiosity, 81 images in four lines?? How long does it take your computer to complete the panorama and what kind of computer do you have?

Edit: Also, do you use a tripod or any other equipment and are the shots handheld?


Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/19/2013 - 1:32 PM

Lynn, I'm using a tripod with a Nodal Ninja panoramic head.
It takes few minutes for shooting... and several minutes for stitching. For this one I would say less than 10 minutes.
In order to get that performance ratio, it's true that I'm using a powerful quad processors computer with 12GB of RAM and SSD drives...

What I didn't say in my previous posts is that, most of the time, I'm bracketing in order to build HDR images.
So in fact, I also need to batch HDR treatment which can be time consuming too.

In the following example, I'm speaking about 74 stitched pictures... in fact there are 74*3=222 pictures
For this one there is around 20 minutes for HDR batch and less than 10 minutes for stitching
I'm not speaking about photoshop final adjustments...

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Posted by: Brian Wallace on 06/20/2013 - 10:37 AM


Posted by: Loree Johnson on 06/20/2013 - 11:26 AM

I love shooting panoramas.

At Crater Lake, it's almost a necessity.

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This one has sold more than once.

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This one has also sold.

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This vertical has yet to sell, but it the most viewed piece in my portfolio.

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Posted by: Brian Wallace on 06/21/2013 - 1:13 PM


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/22/2013 - 8:37 PM

So Patrick, what's the workflow on that image. Do you combine the bracketed images into a single HDR image first then create the panorama from the individual HDR's? How much of this work can be automated by the software?

Loree, love the Mossbrae Falls pano.


Posted by: Brian Wallace on 06/23/2013 - 8:01 AM


Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/25/2013 - 3:30 PM

Lynn, sorry for late answer...
My usual workflow is the one you said : working on HDR images first and then building panorama from individual HDRs,
I'm using Photomatix pro for HDR. This soft comes with a batch functionality which helps a lot.
Stitched pano is then automatically handled by Autopano Giga (using individual HDRs)

Art Prints
34 pictures for this one


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/29/2013 - 1:34 PM

Patrick, I completely understand. I've been following the discussions only sporadically myself.

I've found HDR for landscape to be problematic because trees and leaves tend to move if there is even a slight breeze. My software doesn't adequately account for this movement so the images require careful manual editing. Are there any software solutions for this?


Posted by: Patrick Jacquet on 06/29/2013 - 2:28 PM

HDR and stitching software did a lot of improvement in that area...


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 06/30/2013 - 9:52 PM

I just got around to processing this panorama shot from a couple weeks ago. I just wish I had been on the sailboat instead of on land...

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This discussion is closed.