How to Process Panoramas in Photoshop

If you’re trying to capture a wide landscape in a single image, or maybe trying to make it look like your lens is wider than it really is, then shooting your images for panorama is a really great option!

Step 1: Shoot with Panorama in Mind

There is a very specific way you have to shoot for panoramas. You cannot hope to create a good panorama with random images.

So what you’ll do is to shoot images spanning the entire scene you would like to capture. It doesn’t matter if those images are right-to-left, left-to-right, up-to-down, etc. As long as you overlap about 1/4-1/3 of the frames, you’ll be good!

Step 2: Select

For this example, I did a simple 2 image panorama of a kitchen.

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 3.41.03 PM.png

They aren’t even selected in the correct order, but that’s okay! Photoshop will do the rest! I am starting this in Bridge and then going to Photoshop, as I prefer Photoshops editing capacity over Lightroom.

You’ll notice that there’s a large area that overlaps. It was a tight space, so I overlapped more than what was necessary. Only about 1/4-1/3 of the image is necessary to overlap as long as there are relatively distinctive features that Photoshop can use to identify placement.

Step 3: Tell Photoshop to Process

Now you just have to tell Photoshop how you want these processed.

First, you’ll go to Tools > Photoshop > Photomerge

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 3.41.35 PM.png

That will begin to open Adobe Photoshop on your computer. Once it opens, you’ll see this dialogue box:

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You can choose whatever way you’d like to put the images together! I often just choose ‘Auto’ because it does a nice job. Though I have played around with pretty much all the options. ‘Collage’ is very nice for doing some less-standard work and I’ve used it to make an interesting landscape piece before.

But for this, I’m selecting ‘Auto’

At the bottom, you’ll notice you have the option of checking 4 different boxes. I recommend always using the ‘Blend Images Together’ option unless you have a plan that calls against it.
If your lens causes small vignettes (my 40mm prime lens does this), you may want to check the ‘Vignette Removal’ button.
I also recommend generally choosing the ‘Geometric Distortion Correction’ button, as it will help your images sync more naturally into a single, cohesive piece.
Finally, I don’t generally recommend the Content Aware Fill Transparent Areas button as it never looks fully natural to me, but I do encourage you to play with it and see for yourself and test to see if maybe it will work with your images! Remember that there will almost always be transparent areas that will require you to either crop or fill in certain parts of your images.

Once you’ve got your settings the way you want them, click ‘OK’ to set Photoshop loose!

Step 4: Touch Ups

You’ll want to do some touching up on your image. Whether that’s just cropping it down or full on image manipulation!

After Photoshop processed the two images I gave it, this was the result:

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 3.43.20 PM.png

As panoramas often do, the center is the widest area and now requires some cropping down. At this point, depending on how your images came together, you may notice some small lines where the images come together. 99% of the time, these will go away once you flatten the image and are just there as visual markers for you.

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 3.44.07 PM.png

So now I’ve cropped the image down into what I liked. But it still isn’t how I wanted it to be, so I used the Camera Raw Filter (Filter > Camera Raw Filter) to do some final adjustments.

NOTE: You cannot use the Camera Raw filter on the entire image unless it is flattened. If you want to preserve your layers, select the top layer of your panorama and then use the command: CMD + OPTN + SHIFT + E.
This will essentially duplicate all the layers of the one you have selected and below, then merge them into a single, flattened layer.
You may now bring that layer into the Camera Raw Filter for adjustments.

Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 3.45.51 PM.png

On mine, I decided to adjust the white balance to cool the image down a little and change the distortion amount to help the right countertop stop bowing in as much. Of course, this means more cropping.

So my final image comes out looking like this:


This will apply to any kind of panorama you’re trying to do!
Now get out there and start shooting some stunning landscapes, ranging interiors, or whatever strikes your fancy!


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