Below are a few modest panorama attempts. My little pano head gizmo is working really well and I’m slowly getting used to shooting panos in less than 15 minutes a piece. I’m hoping the silly mistakes of doing an arbitrary 30 deg. panning with the lens mistakenly zoomed in – and thus failing to overlap – and leaving the polarizing filter on are things of the past. I’ve got it down to just a few minutes in the field, plus some 30 to 45 minutes of post-processing for a single image born from an average of 6 stitched vertical HDR frames (or 18 files.)

As a rough guide, here’s my workflow: I bracket each frame into 3 exposures at -2, 0 and +2 EV, usually taking 4 to 7 frames to cover the scene (I rarely do full 360 deg. panos thus far), moving the head horizontally by 25 to 30 degrees between frames, or overlapping them by some 40%. Once home, I convert my Canon RAW files to DNG, process them with Tim Farrar’s FFDD6 to obtain EDR TIFF images (my own term: Extended Dynamic Range, as this is not the standard HDR + tone mapping process), develop them in a RAW processor with identical settings for all files and then stitch them together and apply the finishing touches such as sharpening and cropping.

The final output is a 16 bit TIFF file in the ProPhoto color space that’s up to 200 MB in size and measures up to 80 in. at 240 dpi. That final panorama should be pretty much free of noise thanks to FFDD’s brilliant scripting and contains superb detail. I must say it’s hard to scale it down to a web-friendly size and still have it look as good.

Of course, these are just my first baby steps in a broad direction and I have a lot to learn. A better camera and lenses will eventually yield much better results, and a more powerful computer will help the post-processing tremendously; my laptop, as it is, struggles painfully through the process and crashes regularly…

This will get better.