EPIC Pro Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your panoramas. Also, check out the creative ideas and advanced tips to go beyond the basics with your shots.
7.1 Shoot more than you need
Always take a larger panorama than you need to. Because stitched panoramas are rarely rectangular, you will need to crop your panorama to print it out. This could lead to a lot of lost information, especially at the boundaries.
Another good idea is to set your lower-right corner so that it’s just after the point when the number of horizontal and vertical photos increases. For example, if the EPIC Pro shows you 20 horizontal and 10 vertical images, move it lower and to the right so that it reads 21horizontal and 11 vertical.
7.2 Shooting in different environments
Try these tips settings for photographing huge vistas:
- Examine the scene to identify what will make your panorama interesting and aesthetically pleasing, such as framing, colors, symmetry, perspective, textures, etc. Take a few individual photographs to assess exposure and contemplate the rectangular boundaries of what you want to capture. Gigapan panoramas usually cover a larger area, which means that you will need to learn to make choices about exposure and focus.
- Choose an appropriate focal length for your needs. You need a longer focal length such as 300mm to be able to see details that are far away, but changing light conditions or weather changes may require a shorter focal length such as 50mm to decrease the capture time.
- Focus on an important element of the scene and manually set the focus.
- Focus on an element that isn’t too bright or too dark, and manually set the exposure. Use a lower ISO if possible to reduce image noise.
- Set your camera’s White Balance to either Sunlight or Cloudy, depending on the weather. Do not leave it at Auto. Use an Expodisc, color card, or grey card to set a custom White Balance.
- Make sure that the sun is behind you. If this isn’t possible, hide the sun behind an object. If you photograph into the sun you greatly increase the contrast and range of exposures necessary to capture the scene.
- If you are using a larger lens, ensure that you set ‘Motor Rigid’ to ‘On’ and ‘Motor Speed’ to ‘Med’ or ‘Slow’. Also, set the pretrigger delay to a value great enough to allow the lens to settle after the EPIC Pro moves and before actuating the shutter.
- If there is substantial wind gusts, consider placing the EPIC Pro and lens behind a car trunk, tree, building, or a collapsible portrait reflector. Use a higher shutter speed that is at least the reciprocal of the focal length such as faster than 1/300 of a second for a 300mm lens.
Try these tips settings for shooting indoors:
- Examine what you are photograping to determine the framing, symmetry, color, perspective and texture that will give you an aesthetically pleasing or interesting panorama. Take a few photographs to help you evaluate exposure. It is important to determine the most important elements of the panorama so that you can make good choices before you concentrate on the details necessary for a successful capture.
- Indoor scenes may have mixture of lighting types. Set your camera’s White Balance so that it matches the type of light that illuminates the most important part of your panorama. Set the White Balance to Daylight, Tungsten, or Flourescent. You may use an Expodisc, color card, or grey card to set a custom White Balance.
- Parallax error will be more of an issue if the indoor subject is close to your camera lens. Consider using a shorter focal length such as 50mm to 100mm so that you are able to adjust the lens to a minimum parallax point instead of centering the mass of the camera and lens. The height will always be set to the center of lens if possible. Move the lens forward or backwards so that the end of the end of the lens between the focus ring and the edge of the first glass element is at the axis of rotation. A 50mm to 105mm might be a good range of focal lengths to choose from. (See Chapter 2.9 for more information on reducing parralax error)
- Depth of field will be less as well because you are closer to your subject. Using a higher aperture such as f/11 instead of f/8, and a lower focal length will help increase the depth of field. Another option with the EPIC Pro is to use autofocus if the subject is suitable. (See Chapter 2.8 for more information about autofocus.)
- If there are obects that are moving, you may want to use a higher ISO such as 400 or 800 to be able to use a faster shutter speed to freeze movement.
7.3 Night shots
Here are a few tips for shooting panoramas at night. The key is to Increase the exposure time for each photo and make sure that the EPIC Pro and your camera are free from vibrations.
- If your camera body or lens has Image Stabilization, turn the feature off. Nikon refers to image stabilization as VR vibration reduction.
- If your subject is located in an urban setting, set your camera’s White Balance to about 2900 Kelvin, or Tungsten if your camera does not have a Kelvin setting. Often urban settings include low pressure sodium or similar lighting which will cause your images to appear a burnt orange color. If you are located in a non-urban setting you will need to set your camera’s White Balance to Daylight and a much longer exposure.
- Increase the exposure setting for your camera. Preview the effect in the camera’s screen until you’re satisfied. Expect exposure times of about 15 seconds to 30 seconds at ISO 100 or 200 unless there is ample illumination.
- A lower ISO setting will reduce image noise. The highest useable ISO depends on the camera body that you are using. Typically full frame sensors for newer cameras allow you to use higher ISO settings to reduce the capture time without introducing significant noise
7.4 City scenes
In cities, you need to be more aware of objects in motion—specifically vehicles and people. You may also find that buildings can get distorted when you stitch your panorama.
To avoiding moving objects, watch for people or street traffic that might get in the way of your shots - pause the panorama before they do and resume the panorama after they have left the frame, or pause go back and resume where you left off. This may not always be feasible, so you can also retake the shot where the moving object got in the way and insert it into your image in using image editing software. Remember to remove any extra images you shoot before stitching.
A few tips if you’re shooting buildings:
- Try to get as far from the building as possible to capture the full building.
- Instead of facing the building, shoot it from a 45° angle for a unique perspective.
- Make sure that the corner of the building is at the center of your scene. 5.
7.5 Create Games:
Hide & Seek Make your panorama fun to explore by hiding interesting objects, and create a list of these things for your friends to find. You can either hide items in your scene before shooting the panorama, or insert images into your panorama using image editing software.
Just follow these instructions when you are uploading your panorama to turn it into a fun hide & seek game:
- When you upload your panorama to GigaPan.com, click on ‘Edit’.
- Check the ‘Is a Game’ box.
- List the objects you’ve hidden in your panorama comments.
7.6 Panoramas in Motion:
Capturing a Crowd Sporting events, races or crowds of people are great opportunities to take an epic shot that captures every detail of the moment. You’ll be sure to capture every face in the crowd.
When shooting a panorama of a sporting event that has a lot of motion, capture the whole scene and crowd, and then re-shoot the areas in motion individually. Drop these individual shots into the final panorama during post-production and you won’t have any “ghosts” or missing people.
Also, set your tripod above the crowd or at an elevated level to capture the full scene.