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Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Lesson 17 of 30

Finishing Techniques


Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Lesson 17 of 30

Finishing Techniques


Lesson Info

Finishing Techniques

Let's now talk about finishing your photos. Talk about finishing your photos in Lightroom and then finishing your photos in Photoshop. So to do that, I'm going to select an image that we already created, this one here. And we'll go full screen on this one. So that's the huge panorama. How big is this? Well, I'm gonna go back to my loop, I'm pushing my I key, which stands for information, so there we go. That photo is 39,000 pixels wide. 39,000 pixels, I mean, that's just massive. You could print this up to be the size of a bus, the size of a building, there's a lot of data here. And it's 7,000 pixels high, so huge file. And it's a DNG, which is important to us. Let me just describe what happened here. So we had all of our original RAW files and we merged those RAW files into the panorama and the new version of Lightroom gives us a DNG. Well that DNG is a digital negative and that means that I can continue working on it in the develop module with all of my sliders. So even after I've me...

rged it, I can go back in and I can fiddle with the highlights. And I can fiddle with the shadows. On the original RAW images, very very powerful. And that's why I love using Lightroom as my base of operation here. So what do we have to finish? Well, I think most panoramas need a little bit of vignetting in the sky and that basically holds the viewer's attention. So what I like to do is I like to use my graduated filter and darken down the sky just a little bit. And then also, I'm gonna zoom in here. I'm gonna zoom into 1 to 3, not 1 to 1 because 1 to 1, we'd be looking at a little bit too close. But a lot of times some elements of the photo are a little bit dark. So for example, these buildings might be a little bit too dark so I'm gonna use the brush tool to brighten up the building area. Alright, so we'll do two things. Darken the sky, brighten up the buildings and especially those trees on the right hand side. Those need to be brightened up a little bit. And then we do a third thing, too. I'm gonna look for dust. So let's do that. So I'm gonna go Shift-Tab, that brings back all of my panels. I'm gonna go over here to my graduated filter, click on that. And what do I wanna do with my graduated filter, well, I don't want shadows to be up. Really what I want to do is I want to darken it down a little bit. So I'm gonna go minus, maybe minus point seven, something like that. I'm gonna drag down from the the top, there we go. There's my graduated filter. And now I'm gonna make any adjustments there, maybe that was too dark. You don't want it to be overbearing, but just enough. Alright, so it looks like I'm around a minus point six six. And I think that's fine for this image. So I'm gonna go Done. Click. Next, is I'm going to lighten up the buildings and the trees on the right hand side. So to do that, I'm gonna go over here to the upper right. I'm gonna click on the Brush tool. And so what are the things I want to modify here? Well, brightness is one, so I'm gonna use Exposure. But also shadows. I wanna pull out some more shadow detail. So I'm gonna move Brightness up a little bit and then I'm gonna move the Shadow slider up a little bit. And now you can see my brush. I'll put my brush over there. I'm gonna use my bracket keys. My left bracket and my right bracket change the size of my brush. Right there. And before I start painting, the last thing I want you all to know is make sure you turn on Auto Mask. If you turn on Auto Mask, it will keep the brush inside of the middle circle. In other words, whatever I'm adjusting won't go out beyond the middle circle. And it's a smart brush, and so maybe I phrased that wrong. If the middle circle goes something like this, I'll move over here, if the middle circle goes out like this but my pin is still here, it's smart enough to know not to paint out into the sky. It will keep the brush here in that dark area. So, start painting. 'Kay, you can see those trees lighting up, cool. And move over here, left. Click down here on the buildings, brighten them up. I can already see it's a little bit too bright. And that's fine because I'll just go back and adjust it. Alright. I'm gonna type the letter O. O stands for Overlay. And you can see the red areas, that's where I've been painting. O. Alright, go back and make my final adjustments. Maybe brightness done, there we go. A little bit in shadows, cool. And then a lot of times I will click the on/off switch on my brush tools, right down here. I will click that Off and On just to see if my adjustment was fine. And it is, I'm happy with that. And then click down here and go Done. Great. Okay. So that's basically finishing the photo in Lightroom. Let me show you how to finish a photo in Photoshop. You know what? I realize I didn't do dust, but fix dust, you use that, let me just rewind a little bit here. I'm gonna go to the Dust tool, also known as the Healing Brush tool, Spot Removal tool. I click that and then what I do is I go down here and I click this little button that says Visualize Spots. It turns the photo kind of black and white and it helps me find anywhere there might be dust in the scene. So anyone using digital cameras knows that you're almost always gonna get some type of sensor dust. Except for me. My camera is very clean, obviously, so I'm not seeing any dust, lucky for me. But let's say I did and let's say that there just happens to be dust here in the sky. I just basically move my Brush tool down. We'll get rid of that little piece of cloud. Move my Brush tool down to about the size of that cloud, click on it, and then Lightroom just automatically gets rid of the dust in that segment. So there you go. Okay. So let's go show you real quick in Photoshop how to finish a photo in Photoshop. And to do that, I have a special photo for you from my hometown in Gig Harbor. This one has a lot of issues. This is an office building in Gig Harbor and I'm just gonna show you that here's the image that we're going to finally produce. And then here are the images that lead into it. Here you can see my hand, I use my hand as my starting point. And then here are the images that we'll produce. This was taken with my 14 to 24 millimeter lens. I was really close to that building, so there's gonna be a lot of distortion. So we'll take those images, I select them all. I'm going to right-click. I'm going to go to Edit In and Merge to Panorama in Photoshop. Great. And this should just fire up very rapidly. Here we go. I'm just gonna pick all of the things I said earlier. Blend Images, Vignette, Removal of Geometric Distortion. And now I hit OK. And now it's going to do the merge. Let me just take this moment to answer another question. There was a question from someone just a little bit ago who asked about this product called the Gigapan Epic Pro. And what that tool is, is a robot for your camera. It's a robot that controls your camera for panoramas. It basically takes all of your, the human error out of this process. It's a great product. I highly recommend it. And it's not even that expensive, it's just a few hundred dollars for the lower-end model. I think the Pro model's quite a bit more, but basically you use your laptop computer and your program the lower left to the upper right. Use a higher telephoto lens and the Gigapan Pro just basically merges all of these photos together or takes all the photos and then you use their software, Gigapan, to get this super hi-density panorama. It's a great product. I don't purchase it. I haven't purchased it because I travel a lot and it's hard to travel will all of the laptop and all of this big gear. I just like to go a little bit lighter weight, but I highly recommend the Gigapan products. Yeah, question Kenna. Sure, just because we have a little bit of time while that continues to work. There were some questions about what process do you do before and after the merging, so would you ever just merge everything first and then process? Um-kay. Or, 'cause it seemed to do a little bit of each. It's a great question and I totally get what your asking and my answer is there's no right answer, huh. So in Lightroom because we're now working with the DNG file after we do the panorama merge, Lightroom gives us the option to do the individual photo work before or after. Personally, I like to actually do the individual photo work first because it helps me see if I like the photo. Versus having to wait for the panorama merge to go through, blah blah blah blah blah blah. And then I start working on the image and then I'm like, oh, you know what, it's not gonna turn out the way I want it to. So for me, I like to make the photos look pretty initially and then do the panorama merge after that. So it's a preference. Alright, well here we go. We are in Photoshop and you can see, in Photoshop when you do this merge, doesn't give you that slider adjustment that we had in Lightroom. There is another way to do that. I'll get to it in a minute. But, there's a lot of work that we need to do on this image and mostly with warping the image, fixing the edges, so let me show you a couple of ways to do that. Um, first things first. I want to make sure that I don't have any merging errors and it looks like we're good. I'm gonna zoom in a little bit and just use my Hand tool, my space bar, just drag the photo around. I'm looking. Looks good to me. All my lines are lining up, my sky looks good, all these posts coming out of the roof look fine, great. Alright, Command-Zero gets me back to the full view. So now rather than work with all of these layers, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna flatten the image. So I'm gonna go Layer, Flatten Image. Now I have to fix all of this warping stuff. So there's, I'm gonna show you two ways to do this. The first one is up here, it's under Edit. And what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna go Edit, Transform. What you'll notice right now, the Transform command is grayed out and the reason why is because I'm working on this background layer and the layer is locked. So make sure that you unlock the background layer. Now, I can go up here, and I can go Edit, Transform, and then Warp. Alright, I'm gonna zoom out just little bit so you guys can see what I'm doing. This is a pretty cool tool. It allows me to actually grab corners of the image and warp them. I can grab up here, grab in the lower right, drag that down. And I can even use it, see how I'm getting a little keystoning going on there? So I can even bring it in a little bit and make my vertical lines vertical. Great, I can drop this down and maybe I need to drop this side down a little bit over here. There's other sophisticated tools that we can use to do this perspective control in Photoshop, but just in the interest of time, I'm gonna skip over them for now. Alright, so let's call that -ish. I'm gonna call it good-ish. There's still some issues. That's right, it's good enough for now. Just to illustrate the next thing I wanna talk about. I'll pull up the sky a tad. Alright, so I'm good. I'm gonna hit Return. Now this is a hard image to work on. A lot of your panoramas won't be this difficult, so this one requires a lot of pixel manipulation. But I'm gonna hit Return, Enter. It will now set that warping, as soon as our spinning ball of happiness, there we go. Now the next thing is I need to crop it. So I want to get rid of all this non-content information, so I'm gonna type the letter C, for Crop, and by the way, the Crop tool's up here in the upper left of your screen as well. Do I want to crop it in a specific aspect ratio? Sometimes people are like, yeah, I like the 1 to 3. A lot of the prints that we're showing here in today's workshop are a 1 to 3 aspect ratio, so we'll just pick that. There's our 1 to 3 aspect ratio. I'll bring this down and now you can see it maintains that aspect ratio. And I'm purposely gonna crop it and leave a couple of segments open, like right there. Okay, so you can see here at the top, there's a little bit of sky and then down here in the lower right, there's a little bit of foreground that we have to address. Alright, so I'm gonna hit Enter. So now the finishing part. So how do I work on these areas? One of my favorite tools in Photoshop is called Content-Aware Fill. Tremendous tool. It has saved me so much time. I think it first came out in Photoshop CS5, maybe CS6, I don't remember. But I use it religiously to fix these issues. So I'm gonna zoom in up here in the sky. There we go. I'm gonna grab my Lasso tool over here on the left hand side. There's my Lasso tool. And I'm gonna circle or just kind of outline the areas that need to be fixed. 'Kay, so now you can see I've got marching ants around that. Now I'm gonna use my Content-Aware tool. So we can go Edit, Fill, and then the pull-down menu here, we're gonna go Content-Aware. And then we click OK. Done. Sky fixed. No other science or technology needed. Just let Adobe do its thing. Grab that one, and now I'm gonna do a keyboard shortcut, which is Shift-Function-F5. Content-Aware Fill comes back up. I hit my Enter button, Enter key. Done. That's great. Let's go down to that lower right segment. And let's just see if Content-Aware fixes that for us. Oh, there's another section I missed, so grab that, Shift-Function-F5, Content-Aware fill, cool. And now for the big one. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn't. Let's just see what happens. I'm just gonna very carefully highlight this area. Alright, Shift-Function-F5 on the Mac, and Content-Aware fill. Here we go. Pffft. I'm gonna go Command-D, or Control-D to deselect. I just made that funky sound because I'm like, oh yeah, go Adobe. Solved all my problems. It just fixed it. So now I go Command-Zero to see the whole image and I'm gonna type the letter F to go to full frame. And there we go. There's our image. You can see that there's still some perspective issue and given, if I had a little more time, I'd actually work on that a little more to fix kind of the curve that we have in the building using this perspective control tools in Photoshop. But, you get the gist, you get the idea. Great, so now, I could go Print from here or I could just go File-Save and it'll bring that back into Lightroom. In fact, that's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go File-Save and when I choose that, it then saves it back into the Lightroom environment. And now when I close out of Photoshop, there it is. There's our image in Lightroom. In fact, let me do this, just so you guys can see one that I did a better job on. Alright. The top one was the one we just worked on. The bottom one is where I spent a little bit more time working on perspective control. Um, yeah. So you can see that basic issue, or the basic approach.

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.


  1. Class introduction

    A print is tangible evidence of an experience, as Hagen says, but that doesn't discredit the process of actually taking the shots, editing the images and, yes, finally getting that print. In the first lesson, Hagen walks photographers through what to expect for the class from packing the right gear to perfecting that final print.

  2. Field Techniques, Camera & Lens Choices

    Unlike film, you don't need a specialized panoramic camera to create a digital panorama -- just something with some megapixel power. Don't assume that all panoramic views are captured with wide angle lenses, however. While the result is a wide field of view, Hagen explains when he shoots with a 14-24mm lens -- and when he shoots with a 70-200mm or even a 200 to 400mm lens. Discover the right gear for panoramas and why you don't necessarily need the most expensive lenses in this lesson.

  3. Selecting Gear for Great Panormas

    The smaller accessories are often just as important when stitching multiple images together for those wide views. Hagen walks you through what tripods to use, along with time-saving accessories like a bowl head.

  4. Camera Menu Settings & Exposure

    Without the right camera settings, differences between images will create obvious stitch lines. Hagen walks photographers through the best settings for shooting panoramas.

  5. Troubleshooting Environmental Obstacles

    Panoramas are often captured while traveling when there isn't an option to wait for the best weather. This lesson looks at what to do when there are obstacles in the shot, from bad weather to objects in the way of the shot.

  6. What Contributes to a Great Panorama

    Can you really capture a great wide view without really knowing what makes a great panorama? Learn what makes a great panoramic image and what mistakes to avoid.

  7. Shooting Vertical Panoramas

    There's no rule saying panoramas are all horizontal wide views. Sometimes, a vertical panorama is a better fit for the scene. Vertical panoramas present new challenges, however, with lens and perspective distortion. Here, Hagen shows photographers how to minimize those distortions for great vertical panoramas.

  8. Shooting Techniques for Black & White Panoramas

    If you start creating a black and white panorama in the editing stage, you're not going to get the best result. Learn how to properly expose and shoot a panorama with monochrome in mind.

  9. Handheld Technique for beginners

    Do you really need to spend hundreds on a fancy tripod set-up? What about when that visual spectacle isn't tripod-friendly? Tripods are helpful, but not always a must. Here, Hagen shoots on site with a tripod-free technique for panoramas.

  10. Tripod Technique for Intermediate Photographers

    Got a tripod, but maybe not the fanciest panorama gear? Walk through the process of shooting with mid-level gear for more than mid-level results.

  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.

  12. Navigating Moving Subjects in Panoramas

    Movement in panoramas creates tricky scenarios -- and can even make a person or moving object appear in your image more than once. While most panorama tutorials will tell you just to avoid moving subjects, Hagen walks through his approach for freezing a moving subject inside a panorama.

  13. How Time of Day Impacts Panoramas

    Light plays a big role in every image, and without flash as an option, planning the shoot for the best natural light is essential. In this real-world shoot, Hagen walks you through how he prepares to find the best light in the scene.

  14. Workflow in Lightroom

    By this point in the class, you have several, separate images -- this is where you learn how to assemble those images into panoramic views, starting by organizing all those files. Using Lightroom, Hagen walks through his post-processing workflow.

  15. Developing Images in Lightroom

    Once photos are uploaded, culled and arranged, development is next. Hagen walks through Lightroom techniques for editing before the stitch and easy methods for keeping images in the same panorama consistent.

  16. Merging Images

    Assembling those separate images together happens in Lightroom through the merge tool -- learn the basics as well as tricks for correcting panorama errors with tools like the Boundary Warp.

  17. Finishing Techniques

    The work isn't quite finished after the stitch. Learn how Hagen continues to fine-tune panoramas, from retouching the sky while leaving the lower portion untouched to removing dust spots.

  18. Saving Images for Print

    If you own your own printer, you can print directly from Lightroom -- but you can still get great prints without investing in a printer. Hagen walks through the best parameters for exporting large panoramas for lab printing.

  19. Controlling Your Environment

    There's a big difference between viewing a photograph on a monitor and seeing it in print -- and to help create the print that has the colors that you're imagining on the screen, the environment matters. Here, Hagen talks about why you may want to paint your office neutral colors and why it's important to know where that final image will be hung.

  20. Profiling & Calibrating Your Monitor

    Monitor calibration is important but often overlooked essential to getting prints to look just as great as the colors on your screen. Watch the monitor calibration process and real time and find the best types of monitors for photo work.

  21. Wide Gamet Color Settings

    What color space is best for working with large, high-quality prints? Here, Hagen explains color spaces and when to use each one.

  22. Soft Proofing Images

    Printing errors are expensive when you're printing out wide view panoramas that measure in feet instead of inches. Soft proofing is a technique that can help you avoid those expensive printing errors.

  23. Selecting the Right Paper for Prints

    Paper choice matters. Hagen walks you through how paper choice influences the final image and what paper choices are best for different types of panoramic projects.

  24. Sharpening Images

    Sharpening polishes that final image before printing -- but do you use Lightroom's sharpening tools in the Develop module or the Print Sharpening tool? Hagen walks you through the best practices for sharpening a photo for printing.

  25. Printing with Lightroom

    Lightroom's print module helps prep images for print, but what do all the options mean, and what settings are best for panoramas? Hagen digs into Lightroom's print module in this lesson.

  26. Printing with Photoshop

    Photoshop is another option to print panoramas from -- but a lot can go wrong here. Hagen walks through troubleshooting prints from Photoshop.

  27. Black & White Printing

    Editing and printing for black and white is an entirely different ballgame from color. Learn how to edit a black and white panorama in Lightroom, followed by, of course, printing.

  28. Best Practices for Printing your Image at a Lab

    You don't have to own a high-end printer to get great prints -- and in fact, Hagen himself sends a majority of his images to a lab. But how do you know what color space to use, and what lab is best for printing panoramas?

  29. Analyzing & Displaying the Print

    Getting great prints is about more than color calibration and proper print settings -- the room the image will be hanging in matters too, particularly the ambient lighting. Hagen takes students through the process of analyzing the print and prepping for the final display.

  30. Reviewing Panoramas Printed in Class

    Through this class, you've walked through the panorama process from gear to shoot to print. In the final lesson, take a look at the results of the images created during the course, from the classic Seattle shot in the United States to black and white 360 panoramas of France or Ireland.


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!