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Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Lesson 11 of 30

Advanced Technique for Panoramas

Mike Hagen

Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

11. Advanced Technique for Panoramas
Using the best gear, like a panoramic gimbal head? See a real-world shoot using high-end gear for photographers that shoot frequent wide view panoramas and learn advanced techniques for avoiding parallax issues.

Lesson Info

Advanced Technique for Panoramas

Let's now talk about advanced technique, so this is where we get to use the cool, cool equipment, the pano gimble head. I'm gonna show that in a different scenario here, in the field. So let's look at that video. So now I want to talk about the high end panoramic gear. You know, if money's no object what are you gonna use? So here again I've got the really right stuff equipment and this is called a pano gimble head, or a panoramic gimble head and the design for this is to allow you to really fine tune the position of the camera equipment, so you don't get parallax errors. Parallax happens when you pan and let's say there's a pole out here and there's a pole here in your frame. Well if you pan incorrectly with your camera, that pole will actually move in position, or move in relationship to the other pole, from frame to frame to frame. But if you pan correctly, in other words, if you pan at what's called the no parallax point that allows you to pan so the poles stay in the same position...

from shot to shot to shot. So what allows you to do that? Well the first thing is, this here is called a nodal slide and it's basically just a long plate that goes into the pano head, or the pano gimble head and allows you- I'll turn the camera this way- it basically allows you to position the camera forward or backward. Here, forward, or backward like that. So how do you determine that no paralax point? Well it requires a little bit of trial and error, because every lense is different. So this is a Nikon 14 to 24mm lense, and what I'm going to do is I'm going to look through the camera as I'm kinda panning the camera left and right. And what I'm looking at in the scene is I'm looking for two poles, or two edges and are those two edges aligned when the camera is pointed on the left side and are they aligned when the camera is pointed on the right side? If they're not, then I'm gonna move the camera forward or backward until I do the full pan with no paralax issues. So why do we care about paralax? Well, it comes down to when we merge the stuff together in Photoshop and Lightroom, if the pole is here in this photo but here in that photo, and here in the third photo, Lightroom doesn't know what to do with that, and it gives you these weird errors that you have to work through. So it's important to do this right in the field. Alright so, the other thing about this is it allows you to position the camera left and right, so maybe you have a professional camera body with a vertical grip, well the camera's taller, so this allows us to move the camera this way or that way so everything is rotating around this axis. So I'm gonna take two pictures here, the first picture I'm gonna take is doing it correctly and then the second series of photos I'm gonna take is doing it incorrectly so we get a feel for what it looks like when we have paralax issues. Alright, step number one, I'm gonna make sure my plate here is level and I'm checking my bubble levels there and I'm good to go so I lock that into place. Step two is I'm going to try to get the center of the lense aligned with the center of rotation here. So I'm gonna move that over a little bit, great, okay. Step three is now I'm gonna check for paralax and I'm just gonna rotate the camera from left to right just seeing if everything's lined up properly. So I'll start over here and I'm rotating, looking very carefully at edges. It actually looks pretty good right now, where I've got it positioned and so I'm gonna aim this back towards the cameras here so you guys can see that the camera body is actually back, it's set back, just a little bit from the mounting center here, so that must be around the no paralax point for this lense. Alright. I'm gonna take the shot, so it's pretty dark in here now. So it looks like I've got about F and I'm at about a quarter of a second, so I'm gonna really lock down the system in between each of my images. Here we go, starting on the left side and the way I do it with that is I actually twist this and now that head is locked. Alright here we go, picture number one, and picture number two. And this scene is pretty high contrast, and so what's going through my mind right now is there is ambient light streaming in through these bright areas. Those may be an issue in our final composition when I work on it in Photoshop. We'll see how it turns out in the end. Alright so that was correctly done, that was the correct panorama sequence with no paralax, I'm just gonna go through my images here real quick, looks good. Alright now I'm going to do it incorrectly. And to do this, I'm actually going to position the camera in front of the rotation point, so the camera will be like out in front and we should get some paralax error in the final image. So I'm just gonna position it forward, like that, and shoot the same exact sequence again. (camera shutter clicks) One, two... (camera shutter clicks) Yeah, and as I'm rotating here, I can see things moving a little bit more. It would be really much more pronounced if we were closer to the subjects, you know like if literally there was a pole a couple of feet in front of the subject and a pole a long ways away, that's when it's much more pronounced. We may not see it a lot here, but at least I've explained it and you'll see the result in just a few minutes. Right on. So here's the result. This was the photo that we shot at the no parallax point, and it came out fairly good, fairly well. You can see, there were no real merging issues as we go from left to right, and one of the reasons I chose this location was because of all of the vertical poles, I was hoping to get some merge issues. I'm not gonna show the second photo, because quite honestly it turned out to be almost exactly the same as the first phoro. I didn't have anything really close to the camera, and what I mean by that is like a foot away or two feet away. That's where you really see parallax issues as you rotate around, you see poles moving with respect to each other, if they're very close to the camera. So even here you can see with a 14mm lens, you know, the closest parallax issues were maybe 15 - 20 feet away, it still wasn't that big of a deal. So that's a good learning point for everyone in the audience. Let me talk a little bit about the gear that I used in that segment. First one I mentioned was the nodal slide. So this is the nodal slide, and what this allows you to do is move the camera forward and backward. This nodal slide is I think about 95 or 100mm long, okay. You might need nodal slides that are even longer depending on what lenses you're using. So for most purposes this one's gonna work out just fine. The nodal slide mounts here, on the pano gimble head, just like this and a quick release. And then you can put your camera in there. The next thing I want to show off here is the L bracket on the camera, so this L bracket allows you to mount the camera vertically or horizontally, depending on what orientation you need. So I'm gonna mount that on there, like that. And there's a little center line marker there so I try to line up those center lines and that center line is aligned with the lens. So the next thing that I try to do is I try to orient the camera so it's centered over the pivot point here on the top and that's just a visual reference, trying to make sure that the center of the lens is aligned with the center of rotation, and that's pretty close there. Right on. The next thing I want to mention is the strap and I know this is about panoramas and panorama gear, but your strap actually is really important when it comes to all this stuff, I like using a strap that allows me to throw the strap on to me to hold the camera, and then to put the system here on the pano gimble head, the strap needs to stay out of the way. A lot of us are using these kind of bayonet straps now, make sure whatever strap you buy allows you to quickly mount and release the camera. My favorite company here is Peak Design, I love their products, I buy all their stuff because I use it and it works, so. The last thing then here is, now that the camera's mounted, with this really right stuff pano gimble head, this is the lock, so your lock is out here, this is your rotation lock, so I'll start on the left side, lock it and then if it's dark, I'll use my cable release, click and then do a little shift, make sure I got my overlap take another shot, and so on and so forth. So, that's the pano gimble head, it's the top in gear. It isn't cheap, you know it's near a thousand or more dollars for this, but if panoramas are what you do and what you love to do then you're gonna spend the money, and I recommend buying the best gear available. So. No parallax point. I know there were a lot of questions on that this morning, so hopefully we answered those questions.

Class Description


  • Shoot a variety of 360 degree panoramas (skylines, landscapes, vertical and horizontal) with the final print in mind
  • Stitch your images together to create a panorama with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Print large images to sell or display in your home


From the skylines of New York and Los Angeles to Switzerland's mountainous backdrop, some scenes are just too spectacular to fit inside a 3:2 frame. Being surrounded by and immersed in a beautiful vista is part of the joy of being a photographer -- but how do you capture what it feels like to stand there in person inside a single image? Panoramas capture that feeling of wonder and squeeze it into the limited form of a two-dimensional print.

Take the experience of seeing a magnificent vista or panoramic view home with you. Join Mike Hagen, director of the Nikonians Academy, and learn his techniques for mastering the art of the panorama, without a dedicated panoramic camera. In this class, he will teach you:

Learn everything you need to make a breathtaking panorama from capturing that spectacular view to hanging the panorama above your couch. Shoot dynamic panoramas in the field that fit together easily when stitched in post-processing. Stitch them together with an eye for printing. Get your color toning right to minimize your reprints, and learn how printing can help you notice things that you may miss when the image is in digital format.


Adventure, travel and landscape photographers looking to improve their final product, make it print-worthy and potentially sell their work.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC 2016, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5


Join photographer, author, and educator Mike Hagen on the journey to perfect the panorama. Hagen has taught hundreds of workshops spanning topics from landscapes to using flash, all while running Visual Adventures and working with the Nikonians Academy. The USA-based photographer has led destination workshops from America-based destinations to bucket-list international locations like Iceland, the Galapagos, and Italy. Hagen is known for his humorous teaching style while presenting complex topics in an easy-to-grasp lesson.


Fred Morton

Get it, get it and get it. I bought Mike's Speedlight course and this is on the list after watching it on line. The course design by Mike with the Creative Live staff is a successful blend of content and presentation. I absolutely loved how Mike took us on location for several shoots, where we could see the setup and problems that he had to resolve. This is a must have course for photographers interested in landscape work. Another powerful part of this class is Mike's willingness to demonstrate and show us what didn't work. The practical experience in his course was just like being in the field with Mike.

user a5f3c6

Mike combines two characteristics of a great teacher: he's obviously knowledgable and competent about his subject matter and he's relaxed and confident in how he presents his ideas. This class covers everything I need to know about photographing and printing panoramas. But, it is much more. It is a class that shows the essential skills involved in shooting, post-processing, and printing photographs and how to apply them to a specific application: panoramas. I learned a lot! Thanks, Mike.

Sue Sirius

This workshop was terrific! I learned so much about taking, processing and printing panoramas (and photos in general). I found the presentation very easy to follow with great examples and instructions. Highly recommend this!