How to create panoramic images
Sometimes, what we want to portrait embraces such a wide angle of view that it is not possible to capture it only with one photo. Or maybe it would be possible using a very large angular, but distortion might destroy what we meant to show.
The best way I know of to get in picture what I see, and what I feel, when related to wide angle images, specially landscapes, is to create panoramic images made of stitching several photos.
The simplest panorama stitching can be made of only two horizontal photos, the most complex can be made of several layers of several photos using several exposures.
I'll use one of the most common cases, one stripe of photographies, in this case vertical ones so we don't get to attached to the horizon line.
We can start by evaluating the "amount" of landscape we want to get in the picture, the lens we have or want to use and swept all that area measuring the light. One should mostly verify highlights and shadows. So that the final panorama becomes natural and harmonious all photos should be done using the same exposure.
As a rule we should use the median exposure between minimal and maximum measured, and all photos should then be taken using full manual mode for aperture, exposure speed and iso.
I strongly advise to shot in raw mode. If that is not possible one should also define the white balance option for all shots.
One way to be more precise measuring is to use that median exposure the extreme situations to verify if we loose detail in shadows or highlights and ajust accordingly.
Having the sun in our back helps to get a more homogeneous exposure and might be worth it to get back in a time of the day when that is possible. If not possible we can try to hide the sun behind a rock or a tree.
All shots should be done straight and fast to assure that light conditions are the closest possible between shots and that mobile elements, like clouds, keep the same place in each individual picture.
All photos should also be leveled together. A tripod can be a huge help, specially with it has a horizontal pan head.
With more experience, it is possible to make these without a tripod, but one has always to account for larger errors and it will be more difficult to stitch the photos. Worse when there are elements on the foreground and small changes in perspective cause differences in spacial disposition.
It's absolutely needed to photograph images that overlap with each other. If we are using a tele lens there is less distortion and overlaping can be less, let's say 20%. But if we're using a wider lens we might need to overlap as much as 50%!
All photos should be processed using the same settings, brightness, contrast, white balance, etc.
Then we stitch them together using one of many programs available with proper tools to do it.
Photoshop has one of these tools, mas more specialized software might be more eficient. Two suggestions are Hugin, completely free, and Autopano/Gigapano.
It is a big advantage to have the complete stitch file with, besides the complete stitch, the several separated images that make it. It is somehow often needed to make small correction to the stitching and this images help a lot.
After all corrections and retouches are made, we cut out margins in excess, adjust bright and colour and get the final image that, if everything was well done, hopefully will make us feel again what we felt when we were there live.