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How to Shoot a Panoramic with Scott Stulberg

Even professional photographers don’t get the perfect shot straight out of the gate. The difference between professionals and amateurs, is that pros don’t give up until they’ve got that perfect shot. They make get frustrated, but they try and try and try again, even in the freezing cold dawn with their feet in mud in the wilds of Wyoming.

I found it very insightful to watch Scott Stulberg fail his first two attempts of taking the panoramic, but by using different zoom and exposure settings and a certain level of patience, he was able to get a perfect shot. Here is Scott’s panoramic of Oxbow Bend at the Aperture Nature Photography Workshop (taken minutes after the video was taken):

Photo by Scott Stulberg.

A review of Scott’s tips for taking a panoramic:

  1. Use a solid & level tripod
  2. Check to make sure your entire shot is level and all your subject is in your frame
  3. Shoot on Manual so that all your settings stay constant
  4. Use a cable release
  5. Overlap each shot by 20%
  6. Stitch photos in post

I think the moral of the story is that you should never give up on a shot, especially a complicated shot like a panoramic. Try a different angle, focal point, aperture, exposure and see if you can make the shot work! Hope this inspires you to go out and take some panoramic shots yourself.

What are your experiences shooting panoramic shots?

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  • Reply
    October 24, 2008 at 5:45 AM

    This is important to have a good lens for shooting panoramic pics and a lot of patience =).

    Check out this links:

    That guy is shooting awesome panoramic of Moscow City. It’s in Russian, but who cares about texts? :P Enjoy his photos =)

  • Reply
    October 24, 2008 at 5:54 AM

    I just finished to view this video and I found that Scott shooting panorama in strange way.

    Let’s say, traditionally, horizontal panorama should me taken with vertical shoots. And vertical panorama with horizontal shoots. It’s because of crop factor.


  • Reply
    Tyler Ingram
    October 24, 2008 at 6:47 AM

    I do panoramic shots handheld and never had a problem. I have also only ever used horizontal shots and not vertical as I have seen some massive panoramic photos use both.

    To stitch them together I use a freeware app (that was created by UBC students) called Autostitch and it seems to do pretty good job.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2008 at 7:20 AM

    I cheated by using the panoramic help feature on my Canon PowerShot, Photoshop did most of the stitching. After that, there wasn’t much left to prettify. I have yet to try and accomplish a great panorama with my EOS. Practise makes perfect..

  • Reply
    Randy Peterman
    October 24, 2008 at 7:33 AM

    I had some fun trying to shoot panoramas at the ocean. Strangely, the waves would not hold still. Part of my personal desire to shoot panoramas is to then do things like create the ‘planet’ photos that the flickr groupat has. Panorama is awesome, especially Scott’s work, which blows my mind. What a blessing to go on that trip!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2008 at 8:56 AM

    additional tip, or two…

    shoot the panorama with your camera in portrait-orientation for each shot – you’ll require more shots horizontally to cover the same total angle of view, BUT you gain a significant amount of vertical resolution in your final shot

    DON’T shoot panoramas with a polarizer on your lens – the colour of the sky will change greatly across the shot making it harder to stitch nicely

    while you’re lining up your shots and overlap, you can use your focus points in the viewfinder as points of reference – e.g. first shot, see what’s under/near your right-most focus point, take the shot, move the camera to the right and put that same part of the scene near your left-most focus point, etc etc. if your camera has interchangeable focusing screens, a grid screen helps (I use one in my 40D, it’s useful for general use too)

  • Reply
    Christopher Blunck
    October 24, 2008 at 8:57 AM

    The problem I’ve always had with panoramic shots has to do with the glass I use and distortion around the edges of the shot. For example, if you shoot UW you get a lot more distortion than if you shoot using a 50mm prime lens. If you stitch 2 or 3 shots taken at 14mm it’s not going to look the same as stitching 10 shots taken at 50mm. Of course the exposure across 10 shots at 50mm is more difficult…

    Panoramic shots are tough and I have a lot of respect for people that do them and do them well.

  • Reply
    Weekend Perusing: You’ve Got To Be Kidding! | Your Photo Tips
    October 24, 2008 at 10:59 AM

    […] over to “Mostly Lisa” for a great rundown of How to Shoot a Panoramic. She’s certainly one of my favorite photographers to err, keep an eye on (yeah, I went […]

  • Reply
    October 24, 2008 at 11:14 AM

    I’m too poor to be able to afford a tripod and I’m a Windows guy, so I just use this to create pano shots: http://research.microsoft.com/ivm/ice.html.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2008 at 12:13 PM

    Chris, I wouldn’t say “just”. ICE is actually the best pano-stitching tool out there!

  • Reply
    Jeremy Latham
    October 24, 2008 at 3:52 PM

    I just use photoshop’s photomerge feature. It works pretty well.

    This is handheld through the window at my dentist’s office: Vancouver Panorama.

    *Note: I just let photoshop do the work on this – didn’t bother retouching, as it was just for fun.

  • Reply
    October 25, 2008 at 10:41 AM

    Panos are sweet :), if anyone wants to be real ambitious they should try a 360 panorama :). Check out my almost attempt at one sorta kinda. Turns out that a 360 panorama in PS takes up wayyyy too much space (try 600 megs) http://gallery.mac.com/scbradley#100172/wideness-copy&bgcolor=black

  • Reply
    October 28, 2008 at 3:37 AM

    Good of you to post this. Looks like they were freezing their butts off. I listen to the TWIP podcast each Tuesday but never visit the site. Maybe I should now.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2009 at 8:58 AM

    Do You know maybe how it’s call of this small equipment in his neck? That thing which he’s using to preview shoot on screen?

  • Reply
    May 19, 2009 at 6:09 AM


    it is called a hoodman, or a similar brand, you can get it at any camera shop

  • Reply
    May 20, 2009 at 1:17 AM

    Thank You very much. I found something on the net after Lisa e-mail :) but I didn’t find this name, so Your answer will be very useful for me.
    I can get it at any camera shop, yes…? It sounds like You’ve never been in Norway :D

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