Follow our simple steps below and learn how to stitch two photos together to create a vertorama image, or vertical panorama, which gives you the best possible image quality in your landscape photos.
One way of creating a square image is to take two rectangular photos with the aim of stitching them together afterwards. This is easiest if you have a tilt-shift lens because you can use the shift movements to take two photos that align perfectly.
But you can also do it with regular lenses, as long as you’re prepared to do some Photoshop work and crop the blended photos to a square.
This technique works well with subjects such as seascapes where it’s easy to merge the photos at a point where the join is easily hidden – either in the sea or in the sky.
It also has the benefit of giving you a larger image to work with, because it’s made from a combination of two files. This is useful if you intend to make large prints, or if you have an older camera with a relatively low megapixel count.
I created the square photo here by joining two rectangular images together. I mounted the camera on a tripod, took one photo, then swivelled the camera upwards leaving a little overlap, and took another. It was then fairly simple to merge the two together in Photoshop.
This type of image is called a vertical panorama – or vertorama. Search for this term on Flickr to see plenty of examples.
An advantage of this technique is that you can take two images with different exposure settings, one for the land and one for the sky, and combine them to get the best possible image quality in both areas – another reason why vertoramas are ideal for landscape photography.
The photo on this page is a good example of this principle. We exposed the bottom photo for the land, and the top one for the sky, then processed the raw files in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) to get two matching images. I did this by keeping all the settings the same, such as the white balance and contrast, except for exposure, which I adjusted individually for each image so they matched. Then it’s just a matter of aligning the two images in Photoshop, tweaking the Levels, and merging them.
01 Open and align
On the first image, go to Image>Canvas Size and double the height, keeping the photo anchored to the bottom. Copy and paste the second image onto the first, aligning with the Move tool.
02 Make a selection
Select the Rectangular Marquee tool and draw a rectangle across the join. Go to Select>Refine Edge. Set Smooth to 100 and Feather to around 150. Press OK when you’re done.
03 Blend the images
Go to Select>Inverse. Click the Add layer mask icon to create a new Layer Mask. Adjust the Levels and colour balance to get a get a good match between the images. Finish by cropping to a square.
10 quick landscape photography tips
Truthful Tone-mapping: a quick guide to realistic HDR in Photomatix Pro
The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)
Creative Landscape Photography: master the dark art of shadows and shade