I was a bit jealous of a friend’s iPhone panoramas, quite nice and apparently done so easily by recording the scene as a video, the iPhone then doing all the work to compose the image.

This is probably done using an iPhone app, but I’m not too versed in that matter. I read a bit about various iPhone apps that can be used in place of Apple original panorama software, even one that delivers a 360 deg. image.

The results aren’t bad. Also, when you’re in a pinch and desperately need to take a picture before the moment passes, is not the time to be picky. As the photographer Chase Jarvis puts it, the best camera is the one you have with you 🙂 As for me, the one is my Blackberry camera, which is not bad either, although a bit behind the iPhone by being panorama-free. I managed to get some good pics with it.

New York sunset, photo taken w/ Blackberry

OK, let’s cut the crap, Blackberry and iPhone driven photography is not the theme here, however proud I am of my pic above (even though completely taken by chance). So, I got down to making a DSLR panorama, which was a completely unknown territory to me.  I found out the easiest solution was to use the free software tool Hugin, solely dedicated to panorama photo stitching. You can get it here.

There’s a good tutorial here, however very detailed… Too detailed, which means loss of time, which means let’s write another one 🙂

  • Basically, all you need to do is to take as many pictures as you want to cover all the panorama you’re trying to render. You need to have each pic overlap the previous one by 1/3 of its width. That’s for Hugin to recognize matching parts of your photos and be able to automatically stitch them.
  • Depending on the shooting conditions, you might obviously want to use a tripod, and the interesting part is that you can easily use your tripod to rotate your camera at the same height. This way, your pics stand more chances to be taken on the same virtual line and you won’t need to crop as much your stitched panorama.
  • Also, DO shoot in Raw + JPG just in case, although Hugin’s free version will only let you use JPG to build your panorama.
  • Install Hugin and run it. You’ll be prompted to select your images and the rest is easy, you can keep the default settings. You’ll need a reasonably good computer for Hugin to be able to process your panorama, but nowadays anything that’s not an antique should do… and otherwise run it at work, it should usually take only 2-3 minutes to compute 🙂

Here’s a first test example done with a Canon 28-300L at the 28mm end, handheld. I took around 12 pics but excluded the far two from the sides, which were bad because the angles of the pond showed. So the final panorama is made of 10 pics. It was something like a 100 Mo image before I downsized it a bit for myself and then a LOT to post it on the Web. The result isn’t bad for some quick’n’dirty handheld photography.

Washington DC Capitol

To go further, a guy named Chris Kotsiopoulos managed to get a 24-hour view of the sky, polar panorama-style. That’s impressive.

24-hour panorama in Greece