Before you doubt yourself doubt your software!
I have never really photographed a lot of panoramic landscapes. I did a few back in the days when you had to blend and align them yourself, but until recently I never tried the automated process in programs like Photoshop. Depending on the program, however, you may get vastly different results.
I ventured into the local mountains a few days ago, set up the camera, made all of the necessary adjustments in camera and proceeded to take a series of images to blend together for one of my new panoramic images. The process went flawlessly because I had taken the time to do things right in the camera on site.
Pleased with the results I left early one morning to take more photos. Unfortunately there was not a very pretty sky so I decided to just take a panoramic of the valley where I live. I set up the camera in the same way, took all of the same precautions necessary to insure perfect exposure with enough overlap for the software to properly blend the images. When I tried to stitch them, to my dismay nothing seemed to work, it looked like several panels with varying exposures laid on top of each other, after several tries with different raw file conversions, insuring that all files received the same adjustments I gave up and started trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Had the sun played a part in the exposure differences, had I forgot to set the camera to manual what could it have been? Everything seemed to check out, but still it was a no go with the stitching process, it had to be me! I had obviously done something wrong, but what?
Determined to figure out what I had done wrong I waited for the perfect day. It was raining when I left home so I knew there would be clouds in the sky, the making of a perfect picture. Once I got to the location and set up the camera I double, make that triple checked my settings in camera, took the appropriate amount of exposures and headed home. To my dismay the exact same problem when stitching the photo occurred. Now I was really upset with myself, and started to doubt whether I really knew what I was doing in the camera settings. So, in disgust, I headed up the stairs to take a shower, I had left pretty early for that perfect location, then like a revelation from the almighty it hit me! Had I used the same program to stitch the first "good" panoramic as I was using today? The answer no!
The raw file conversion program that I use, Canon's Digital Photo Pro has the ability to send converted files directly to Photoshop, but it sends them to Photoshop CS-5. That is the program I had used to stitch the first, the perfect panoramic photograph. However on the latest images I was trying to do the same thing with Adobe's latest and greatest Photoshop Creative Cloud, I have no idea what they did with the photo merge engine in CC but, for me anyway, it is not nearly as good at what it is intended to do as the earlier engine. So before you doubt yourself doubt your software!!
Both of the above images where made with the same files, the image on top was made using Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud, the image on the bottom was made using Adobe Photoshop CS-5, what a difference!!
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T L Mair
Fine Art Photography
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