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Learn to Create 360-Degree Panoramas Like a Pro

panorama image at sunset360-degree panoramic style photography is quite popular. It’s obviously incredible for gorgeous landscapes like this sunset but there are many practical uses too, such as virtual tours in real estate.

Panoramas contain so many details they can really make you feel like you are in another world. You should know however that you need a lot of equipment for this type of photography.

Of course it’s not just the gear a photographer uses that matters, but also the technique, software systems, and creativity. With the right combination, you can truly make an impact and create photography that stands out from the crowd.

In order to spark your imagination, here are a few tips that can help you turn your standard panoramas into professional works of art.

Camera Equipment

You don’t necessarily need the best 360 camera, but to state the obvious, the better the camera the better the shots you will get. By now, you must have heard about DSLR cameras. They are always recommended and the preferred choice of many professional photographers. Although they are great for almost any type of shooting, including panoramas, for a 360 degree view you can use any digital camera you have, as long as it operates in full Manual Mode and has the ability to lock exposure.

Furthermore, panoramic photography requires zoom lenses or fixed/prime lenses that can give you more options and versatility in diverse shooting conditions. Also consider taking off your lens filters while shooting panoramas.

Of course, this doesn’t include a clear filter, because it works perfectly fine unless you are trying to include vignetting to the pictures on the wide end.

Additional gear you might need:

  • Tripod for better results
  • Cable release for shake-free photos

Pre-Shooting Settings

When it comes to adjusting the camera settings for panoramic images, these are the recommended modes to apply:

  • Manual mode for locking the exposure
  • Manual focus lens
  • Camera base ISO (100-200)
  • Aperture set at f/8 or f/10 and higher (depending on the subject’s closeness)
  • For metering, take a few photos to find the middle between brightest and darkest areas
  • Adjust the shutter speed according to the metering
  • Use wide and wide-angle lenses
  • Shoot in RAW
  • Set the white balance to “Auto” when shooting in RAW (change if necessary)

photography landscape mountain top

Shooting Techniques

Finally, we are getting to the good part – here are the most common shooting techniques that will help you enhance the beauty of your panorama. Pay attention and follow these steps:

  • Locate the site you want to capture.
  • Avoid shooting panoramas with objects on the ground such as trees, bushes, etc.
  • Moving objects are tricky, so watch for the wind and avoid shooting moving water.
  • Check the camera focus and make sure you disable autofocus.
  • Visually mark the starting and end point.
  • Take a few test shots.
  • Shoot from left to the right.
  • Remember to keep the camera close to your head at all times if shooting hand-held.
  • Once the shooting is over, inspect the photos to see if there were any problems with the camera settings.
  • Software Touchups

So, you have captured panoramic images, now what?

Now you correct and assemble the ideal 360-degree view with the power of editing software.

If you are a beginner or haven’t mastered the use of such tools, you can always outsource this process to professional services, but if you want to do this on your own, then Photoshop is your best friend.

That being said, you can also take advantage of free graphic programs. For example, GIMP is an excellent program to practice photo manipulation. It’s a free open source software tool for image editing available for most operating systems.

The bottom line is: practice makes perfect. Follow these simple instructions and find your unique panoramic perspective. Play with the settings and learn to operate in manual mode. After a few trials, you will soon capture the “wow” moment you are looking for.

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Lorraine Grula

Lorraine Grula has enjoyed a fast-paced, multifaceted career in the television and video business, producing, shooting, writing, and editing documentary-style videos in both news and corporate settings. Later, she got to teach media and video production in two high schools, which then morphed into instructional design and corporate training. Lorraine is now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge with others who wish to learn the art of video making, with an emphasis on storytelling and creating professional-quality videos for the internet as simply, yet creatively as possible.

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