Turn your pole photography into 360 degree panoramas
01 Process raw files
Select the images you would like to stitch, then right-click and pick Open in Camera Raw. Set Exposure to +0.25, Recovery to 30 and Fill Light to 70 – set high, as shooting into the sun compromises shadow detail. Set the following: Blacks 5, Brightness +60, Contrast +25, Clarity +40, Vibrance +15, Saturation 0, Temperature 5750, and Tint +2.
02 Synchronise images
Click the second tab, Tone Curve, and in the drop-down menu click Strong Contrast (because you’ve lightened the image so much). On the third tab, Detail, in the Noise Reduction section, set Luminance and Colour to 25 (since Fill Light is so high). Click the Select All button in the top-left, then click Synchronize. Ensure Settings is selected in the menu, and hit OK.
03 Export edited images
Click the blue underlined text at the bottom of the screen, called Workflow Options, then set Space to sRGB and Depth to 16 Bits/Channel (or 8 Bits/Channel if you have 2GB of RAM or less). Set Resolution to 300 and Sharpen For to Screen, and hit OK. Click Save Images in the bottom-left, pick a destination folder, choose the TIFF format, and hit Save>Done. Close Photoshop and any other programs as the next step is memory intensive.
04 Fire up Kolor Autopano Pro
In Kolor Autopano Pro, click File>SelectImages, and locate your four saved TIFFs. Press the green Detect button in the Group 1 box. A box opens on the right, and you’ll see it’s made a good attempt to stitch the panorama together. Double-click this to launch a full-screen window of the stitched panorama box. It’s a full 360-degree panorama, so you need to tell the app where the panorama ends are split for your flat image.
05 Centre the panorama
Select the Vanishing Point tool in the top menu bar – an icon with a small green square and red arrows. Click on the centre grid line on the right-hand side of the image, level with the centre of the door and just above it. Next, click on the blue gear wheel icon in the top tool bar; this launches the Render box used to configure the stitching of the panorama. You’ll see the output size of your panorama in pixels on the top line.
06 Render it
In the Render window, go to Blending presets and pick Simple; it works for this image but you may need other options for your shots. Click the drop-down menu in the Format box and pick TIFF for best quality; you’ll tidy the image in Photoshop so don’t compress it as a JPEG. If saved the images as 16-bit TIFFs earlier, change this now to 16 bits. Change Compression mode to none and DPI to 300. Under Output, pick a folder to save the panorama, then select Render.
07 Save your panorama
You’ll hear a sound when the render finishes and the panorama is ready. Close the Batch Renderer and go to the Panorama box on the right, hit the floppy disc icon, and use Save As to save your file, in case you have to do it again. Generating a panorama uses a lot of memory and processing, so if it didn’t go well, reboot your computer or try again with smaller files: use 8-bit files rather than 16-bit, or reduce the images’ sizes.
08 Crop and boost
In Photoshop, click File>Open and navigate to your panorama. Select the Crop tool (press C), and crop all the black edges/points from the image. To give the tones a boost select Image>Adjustments>Shadow/Highlights, set Shadows Amount to 1 and Highlights Amount to 1, then hit OK. Finally, in your own images, you may wish to remove flare spots and other unwanted artefacts using the Patch and Clone tools.
Double Exposure: a seriously simple method of combining images in-camera
Smoke photography: a simple setup for atmospheric still lifes
Free-lensing: dismount your lens for the ultimate creative effect