Good Morning San Diego

San Diego Skyline At Sunrise | San Diego Gallery

The colors of the sky were fantastic this morning as the sun began to rise above the San Diego skyline. I stood on Harbor Island, no more than 50 feet from where I was last week then the harbor was engulfed in fog. Compared to last week, today the harbor was a completely different world.

I don't do panoramas often - and when I do, I usually fake it and crop a single frame at a 2.39:1 ratio. This time around, I took five frames and stitched them together in post. A few tips for panoramas:

  • Work quickly. Don't rush your setup, but when you're ready to shoot, move quickly from shot to shot. Even a scene as static as a skyline has motion. The water is moving, the clouds are moving, the lighting is always changing. Don't delay between frames.
  • Shoot vertically. While the resulting panorama will be wide, turn your camera 90 degrees and then take the frames.
  • Overlap 20%. Yes, overlap the frames 20%, at least. Give your panorama software plenty of edges and shapes for alignment. The more you give the software to find, the less you'll have to do by hand.
  • White Balance. Before sending the individual images to your panorama software, set the white balance to the same value across all the photos.

For stitching, I used an open source package, HugIn. It did an admirable job stitching together the frames and required no guidance. The "Assistant" mode worked well. But, I was not happy with the color loss in the output. The JPG files I provided to HugIn looked fine (and I double checked), but the resulting panorama was very flat. I had to do further work in Aperture to bring back the vibrance and restore some contrast.

If you're a pano person, what software do you use for panoramas? Either free or for purchase, I'm interested to know what good options are out there.