Workflow: Print Resolution Panorama

Saturday, September 20, 2014 11:17 PM By Stephen J Christophers

This article covers the basic process of stitching photographs for the purpose of high-quality panoramic images, using Photoshop. And, insights into shooting for the purpose of stitching groups of 300dpi shots to create panorama artwork. The article also includes information about general High Dynamic Range photography and examples of this technique.

The Process: There are an abundance of ways to take panoramic images. Some cameras and smart-phones offer software that will capture panoramic photographs and 360 degree vistas directly to your device with minimal work. Nevertheless, these images are generally created to a resolution of 72dpi. A topic I've discussed before. A small format picture is only good for digital viewing, rather than print, or the process of making digital artwork. Along with creating a small file, these in-device panorama options often cause artifact issues; areas where the photographic stitching has been unsuccessful, the automated process can often produces contrast and brightness anomalies between different images, those that combine to create the finished panorama file. For these reasons it is best to stick with print standard 300dpi images strait from your camera. Using print standard images is not a guarantee that full resolution shots will not have difficulties while stitching occurs. Nevertheless, it is better to start out with the largest images possible to create your picture and correct any errors as they arise, using Photoshop tools.

The Sofftware: Photoshop offers a Photomerge environment that will automatically merge your selected images at a high resolution. Photoshop: File > Automate > Photomerge or in its Elements form: File > New > Photomerge Panorama. This process works by using a similar method as in-camera and phone software, albeit on a much larger scale. Here we are using images at 300dpi rather than 72dpi. The images must also be taken manually. A method that can be tricky to master effectively. Nevertheless, for stationary objects such as buildings or landscape photography the process is much easier than one might first expect. As with in-camera and phone software, Photomerge will also create "artifact issues" if the images are incorrectly aligned, or the wrong perspective options are selected. However, Photomerge seems to do a much better job at stitching and rendering images than most in-camera and mobile phone software tends to do. The biggest draw-back to this method is the requirement of a large amount of memory and CPU usage while rendering occurs. With output images in the tens of mega-pixels at 300dpi you can be sure of producing a large enough print quality image to be used in creating your next digital artwork.

Once your final rendering has been created in the Photoshop environment it's just a matter of flattening the final layer results and cropping to size, before saving. For those of you wishing to run your image through the HDR process, now would be the best time to split your work into differing exposure values. Saving each separate file to your preferred image format.

The artwork on this page has been created using the methods outlined above. If you have any questions or are interested in purchasing a signed and certified print(s) please feel free to contact me.