Panoramas have been around for a long time. Some of the most famous early panoramas were assembled by George N. Barnard, a photographer for the Union Army in the American Civil War in the 1860s.

If your camera has a panoramic mode – use it more

Recently with all the advances made in camera technology it has become easier than ever to make spectacular panoramas as most point and shoot cameras have a panoramic mode. With the exception of my iPhone, I do not own a camera with a built-in panoramic mode, so this blog will focus on the conventional ways of making panoramas.

Stitched pano consisting of 7 images, with light painting on the foreground detail

Photo Credit – Sarel van Staden (Photowise)

Stitched pano consisting of 9 images, using Fluorescent White Balance to add a little more colour

Photo Credit – Maryna Cotton (Photowise)

Aspect Ratios Define Panoramas

Panoramic or Panorama photography is a technique using specialized equipment or software to make images with elongated fields of view. These can either be horizontal or vertical fields of view and the later is referred to as vertoramas. Panoramas are also known as wide format photography, which should not be confused with wide angle photography, as wide-angle actually rather refers to a lens which does not necessarily make panoramas. Using the aspect ratio of an image is a safer way of defining a panorama, which usually has an aspect ratio of at least 2:1 (i.e at least twice as wide as it is high).

Photograph of a Vertorama

Photo Credit – Frank Krummacher

Cropped Panoramas

The easiest way to make a panorama is to photograph a landscape using a wide angle lens and then cropping it to panoramic ratios. This method works very well for images with movement in them.
(This method may effect image quality)

Seascape Low Light

Photo Credit – Sarel van Staden (Photowise)

Photo Credit – Sarel van Staden (Photowise)

Fireworks at the beach at Natures Valley

Photo Credit – Sarel van Staden (Photowise)

Sunset Pano with Birds flying on the horizon

Photo Credit – Maryna Cotton (Photowise)

Stitched Panoramas

Stitched panoramas are made through a process of combining multiple images through dedicated stitching software or Photoshop Photomerge. The process is easy enough, providing you shoot mindfully to creatie a stitched image. Here are some shooting tips and tricks.

Use a Tripod and Keep the Camera Level

Using a tripod will help to keep the horizontal axis straight. Stitching software also works better if the images were taken from the same viewpoint.

Shoot in portrait orientation. It allows a little more leeway for cropping the image after it had been stitched.

Panoramic Photograph

Photo Credit – Maryna Cotton (Photowise)

Keep Exposure Constant

Keeping your exposure constant throughout the series of images is important and is best-achieved using Manual Exposure mode.

Lens Choice

Keep the focal length and focus point constant throughout the series of images so that you can combine them later. Focus on something approximately a third into the scene and then switch the lens from Auto Focus to Manual Focus. Be careful not to zoom in or out while shooting your series of images or use a fixed focal length lens. Shooting with a longer lens is also recommended as wide angle lenses distort especially near the edges of the images and this can cause problems when you stitch.


According to Adobe, the images should overlap by at least 40%, but no more than 70%. Outside of this range, Photomerge may not be able to align the files correctly.

Adobe Photoshop Photomerge

When Big is Not Enough

Gigapans are huge gigapixel panoramas, basically digital images with billions of pixels, which are zoomable and made with almost any digital camera and a robotic camera tripod mount capture photos using almost any digital camera.