I saw a nice panoramic image online. How do I go about creating my own (say, of my yard at home)?
The easiest way to produce a high quality panorama is to take multiple shots and stitch them together using AutoStitch (Windows only). AutoStitch is free and there is almost nothing to do except to chose your images and save the results.
The basic principle is to take multiple shots with overlap between them (20%-30% is recommended) while keeping everything constant (exposure, aperture, focus and white-balance).
If your camera has a Stitch or Panorama Assist mode, that is exactly what it does: It locks all the settings and shows you an overlay of the last photo you took so that you can line them up.
Apart from the the answers suggested by others, I recommend a few other tips. Based on what I read.
- Shoot the pics in Vertical mode. You might have to take more shots, but you'll realize at the end that the edge distortion is less when you click in Vertical mode. When you shoot in horizontal mode, you end up getting the edges cut when the final output is obtained. It's more like a thin horizontal strip. In vertical mode, this can be avoided to a great extent.
- DO NOT shoot in Auto Mode, as all the parameters would change after 1 or 2 shots. Instead press the shutter half-way in Auto mode, note down the values of f, shutter speed etc, switch to manual mode and then key-in these values and try them out.
- DO NOT set the White Balance to Auto, instead set it to Cloudy or anything else as the case maybe.
- Once you take the first segment, turn off the Auto Focus of your lens, you don't want your camera to focus different points in different segments.
- Have your finger in left / right corner to mark the first photo of the Panoramic series & like-wise right / left corner for the last photo of the series.
- Overlap about 20-25% of the last shot and make sure that 1/4th of the last shot appears in the current one.
- Shoot really quick. You don't want the clouds or any of the other background details to change too much.
- Use a remote or a timer of 2,5 secs to make sure that you don't shake the camera when you click the shutter. Whatever vibration you might have caused while clicking might have got subdued at the end of 5 secs for sure. (Hopefully)
- Once all of it is done, go for any of the popular panoramic photo-stitching software.
Last but not the least, go for a very good tripod. It's not possible without a tripod.
Hope this helps... Happy Shooting :-)
Although there's a previous answer that covers stitching tools, as I discovered in my question about action shots, there are important considerations when you're shooting the pictures that you're going to combine, too.
- Make sure you're shooting in Manual mode so that your exposure is the same for all the shots in the panorama. Stitching software is getting better and better at dealing with mismatched exposures, but the better raw material you can feed in, the better your results will be.
- Use a tripod if you can. Again, stitching software is becoming remarkably good at compensating for hand-held shots, but a steady camera platform will improve your inputs.
- There are pricy tripod heads made specifically for panoramas that are designed to pivot the camera / lens to avoid parallax, but you should be fine starting with a regular tripod until you get to a point where you need that extra quality.
- Use a fairly deep depth of field (DOF) so a lot of your shot is in focus. This is fairly common for landscape shots anyway, but you want to avoid trying to match up blurred areas in adjacent photos, as there aren't any crisp details for the stitching software to use as alignment points.
I believe stitching is fairly well-covered in the other question.
Most importantly get a good tripod, and make sure you rotate around your focal point, take the images as rapidly as possible with partial overlap. (to avoid clouds/wind/movement artifacts)
Then also a great tool to use in my experience is Hugin. It is Open Source and available for Linux, Windows, and Mac. It may not always work automatically, but the advanced options are awesome.
On Windows, the Windows Live Photo Gallery app (http://get.live.com) makes it REALLY easy to stitch photos together into great panoramas. It works better than almost all other tools I've tried (and is far simpler).
Oh, it's free too.
Some of the point and shoot camera provides stitching software but I'm using "Auto Pano" for my panoramas. There are free software available too. Here is a nice article about panoramic stitching.
Free tool which does a nice job too: http://hugin.sourceforge.net/
You can create one on an Android device very easily with the (little known) panoramic feature.
Camera > Settings > Shooting Mode > Panorama
Short video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txwdD11sW1s