Three Tips for Better Panoramic Photographs

Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference.  Here’s three quick tips to getting bette panoramic photos.

The Hand Knows

When you are out shooting panoramic photos, its pretty easy to get a ton of photos.  When you jump into post into post you can get a little overwhelmed.  Where does one pano end and the next begin?

© Richard Harrington

That’s easy… just hold up your hand in between shots to signify a scene break. When you’re browsing in Bridge, Lightroom, or Aperture the scene break is easy to spot.

Go Manual

We’ve all come a little too dependent on the computers inside our cameras.  But when shooting panoramic photos its critical to switch back to manual mode.

© iStockphoto | mikerogal

The last thing you want is for the aperture to change and your depth of field to vary as you pan,  You’ll also want to avoid exposure variation as well.  This manual override goes for both the camera and the lens… go for full control.  I recommend taking a few test shots from around the arc and adjust your settings then let it rip and shoot the whole pano.

Get an L Bracket

Ideally, you want to shoot in portrait mode.  This will allow for the least amount of bending as you rotate the camera around.  Essentially you are creating a circle out of several rectangles.  A portrait orientation allows for more sides to the shape, hence a smoother curve. Unfortunately most cameras mount to their tripods in landscape mode.

© Richard Harrington

One option is to look for a tripod with a titling plate.  This works well, but does introduce a slight distortion to the image.  A better option is to get a L-bracket for your camera.  This makes it easy to rotate the camera 90˚.  I use a bracket and tripod mount from Really Right Stuff (  While they are a premium grade, they offer plates made to fit specific camera models precisely.  Camera controls and ports are not blocked by the L-plate.

What’s Your Secret?

Do you have any great tips for better panoramic photos?  Please post them below.


About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on September 26, 2011, in Gear, Panoramic and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. You can also buy (or build) a panoramic head and calibrate it to your specific camera and lesn combination. That should help achieve better panoramas.

  2. Tip 4: Download (free) & use Microsoft Photosynth for the iPhone. Dead simple to use, and the results are almost always terrific.

  3. I use the grid on my LCD to work out how far to rotate my camera. Identify a feature ( a peak, tree, building, etc.) and rotate until it moves across the screen the required amount. When it disappears from view, pick another feature.

  4. never auto w/b

  5. Pan left to right. That way your photos show up in a way that makes sense. If you shoot right to left they come out running backwards. The software doesn’t have too much of a problem, but it’s hard to look at.