Photography Fundamentals – Steps in Building the Panorama

You cannot yet create a panorama entirely in Lightroom.  You need Photoshop to merge multiple images.  Fortunately, lightroom make’s it easy to select multiple images in your library and deliver them to Photoshop for processing.  Here’s how you do it:

Step 1:  Select the images for your panorama in Lightroom.  Under the Photo menu select Edit In > Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.

Step 2:  In the resulting Photomerge dialog box, you’re presented with a list of the Source files Photoshop will use to create the panorama, along with a column on the left that lists the six layout options.  Each layout option is designed for a specific type of panorama.  Selecting the correct one will greatly improve your panorama’s quality.

  • Auto – Blends images automatically using the layout method Photoshop determines is best for the image.  This is typically, but not always, Perspective or Cylindrical.
  • Perspective – Distorts the image to keep the horizon line true.  The perspective layout has a tendency to create panoramas that wrap around the viewer.  Unfortunately, this can cause problems as the elements within the photo are greatly exaggerated.
  • Cylindrical – Ideal for blending images taken with a wide-angle lens.  The cylindrical layout will compensate for the slight vignetting that occurs at the corner of wide-angle lenses and the slight distortion along the horizon.
  • Spherical – Designed for 360-degree panoramas.  Spherical panoramas hold promise for photographers to create interactive worlds for the viewer and certainly should be an avenue of exploration for photographers with the technical inclination and temperament to pursue this craft.
  • Collage – Positions the photos as though in preparation for a panorama, but does not blend the images into one.  Instead, the intact edges of each photo give the appearance of a scrapbook collage made from multiple prints.
  • Reposition – Repositions the photos without performing any blending.  This is ideal for photographers shooting from a technically accurate setup who want to blend the images in the panorama manually.
Additional options are available at the bottom of the Photomerge dialog:
  • Blend Images Together – Automatically blends images by creating layer masks for each image.
  • Vignette Removal – Useful if you are using a wide-angle lens that has a tendency to vignette at the corners.  Without Vignette Removal, your blue skies will have a tendency to appear mottled near the seams between images.
  • Geometric Distortion Correction – Designed to correct for the distortion imparted by wide-angle or fish-eye lenses.  Although these lenses aren’t ideal for panoramic Photography to begin with, this feature can mitigate arcing horizons and bending buildings.

Step 3:  After selecting your layout method, click OK and Photoshop will begin processing your panorama.