Adventures with Panoramas

One of the things that I noticed the last time I was in Siena was the potential for a 360° panoramic shot in the Piazza del Campo. Unfortunately that trip was the last time I used my film SLR and, given the hit and miss results of my attempts up to that point, I was too cheap to waste half a roll of film on the task.

This time, however, I was on digital:


(Click to zoom in. The full version is way too big to put on the Internet I’m afraid. The Photoshop file is nearly 300Mb in size!)

I’ve tried this a few times now and the technique I now use is as follows:

  • No polarising filter
  • Focal length between about 40mm and 60mm
  • Check out the exposure readings all around, pick a middle-ish reading and dial that in as a manual exposure
  • Pick a suitable white-balance setting. Do not use AUTO
  • Hand-hold but keep steady, make sure there’s a good overlap between images

Then I just let Photoshop take the strain.

I wasn’t happy leaving it at that though.

I had seen people do, for want of a better word, circular panoramas. I spent some time playing around with the above image but couldn’t quite figure out how to do it. I gave up and nearly forgot about it all.

Until this months Photography Monthly plopped through my letter-box with instructions on how to do it. How could I not have a go?


What they didn’t mention in the magazine is that you need a lot of foreground to make it work. Unfortunately, as you can see with the original, that’s something that I didn’t have. I ended up adding more cobbles at the bottom using the clone tool, the healing brush and some solid colour. This worked pretty well except for where there were people. The distortion hides much of the worst of it.

This is never going to be a perfect panoramic picture, which is why I’m publishing it in this slightly rough and ready state, but I like the results so far, think I know where I went wrong and am determined to try again.