Tool of the Week: Panorama Tools

On a few of my trip reports I've gotten comments on my panorama's to the tune of "How did you do that?!"

I use two panorama tools.   The first, AutoStitch, has free demo for PC and although it lacks features, seems to be a great working blackbox program.

When I got my mac, I purchased the program Calico Panorama.  It too is a little bit of a black box, but it does a great job equalizing exposures and hiding the seams of stitched photos.  I can't say it's the best photo-stitching program out there (because it's the only one ive tried), but It certantly does the job and was quite a bit cheeper than other software I looked at.

A few panorama taking tips:

  • When taking Panorama's I try to hold the camera in one place and take a bunch of shots while rotating the camera on an imaginary axis through what would be the center of it's image sensor chip (Or film).
  • In my experience, the more shots, the better.
  • If you can lock the exposure settings on your camera, it will help the panorama have a more uniform look.  but try to lock the exposure settings on the interesting parts of your picture, otherwise some stuff might be too dark or washed out.
  • Be careful not to chop off the sky (or ground).  Remember, seemingly empty individual shots might contain important negative space in the completed panorama.  So many times i've followed interesting features such as the horizon or mountains, and when i stitch my panorama together, i end up with a diagonal or "L" shaped shot.
  • Try to take the shots quickly, and if you have people in them, try to get them to hold still at least for the shots they're in.

Anybody out there have any recommendations for what they use for photo-stitching?