How To Create a Panoramic View of Your Home

How To Create a Panoramic View of Your Home

Mike Tyson
Oct 8, 2010

Do you live in a shoebox apartment like most of us? We constantly struggle to find the perfect angle or shot that encapsulates a room but it is often challenging in a small space. Panoramic photographs are an excellent way to digitally stitch your apartment together and flatten it out like a world map. After the jump we're going to tell you what you need and how to do it so you can make yourself a truly unique image of your space.

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What you need:
Obviously you're going to need a camera with basic to moderate photography skills. We used a Nikon D90 for our panoramic shoot and we have to recommend using a DSLR. If you don't have one try to borrow from a friend. After putting so much work into creating this panorama, you're going to want to have the best images possible. Although it isn't a requirement, a tripod is going to be very helpful as well as a small level. Lastly, you're going to need a photo-editing tool. We will be utilizing Photoshop for the demo. If you want to find free (or much less expensive) software, we recommend checking out Ken Rockwell's list.

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How to shoot:
First, decide what you'd like in your image and position your tripod/camera accordingly. Depending on where your camera is located, it will either enhance or reduce the distortion in your image. For instance, if you position your camera closely to one part of the photograph, it will cause a "bubble" effect in your final panorama (like our demo shots.)

Using the level and the tripod, make sure your camera is positioned as level as possible. It is going to be helpful to use a mid-focal length that will reduce the barrel distortion at the edge of your picture due to your lens. Additionally, you're going to want to utilize a large depth of field so everything is guaranteed to be in focus. One final option available to you that isn't practiced as much is to shoot your pictures vertically so you aren't left with a very short and wide image. Taking the images will be more challenging, however, especially if your tripod doesn't allow you to rotate the camera vertically.

Begin taking the images. Be systematic about it. Make sure your images overlap (a good practice is about 20-50%) so the photo stitching software can work its magic. Don't be afraid to take a lot. You can always edit down later. Take your time and make sure you don't miss a square inch.

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Piecing it together:
Once you're complete, open the files in Photoshop. Select "File/Automate/Photomerge". The auto setting has always worked extremely well for us. (as a side note: The first photo was created using the "Geometric Distortion Correction" option which will depict your objects accurately but will consequently drastically bend your photo. The second image is without that option and gives you a bubble effect in the center of your image.) Add your files, hit "ok" and wait for the magic to happen. To be perfectly honest, it really is stunning what Photoshop can piece together in the end from your fragmented images. An alternative way to assemble the images is to use a large, white background and piece together the images by hand, making them all slightly transparent and overlap them. This creates a choppy, almost expressionistic appearance that may be desirable in some instances.

As one final note, we do want to mention that the iPhone has a few Apps to help you create a panoramic image such as Autostitch and Pano.

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