3D Photography by Brian Greenstone, Austin TX

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HOW TO: The Process of Making a Pano

Section 5: Creating a Composite Nadir Image

Skip This Section if You Want

Like I said in Section 3, you only need to shoot a Nadir shot if your lens isn't wide enough to see the panhead in the horizontal shots. So, if you're using an 8mm lens then you can just skip this section.

Even if you did shoot nadir images you can skip this section if you want because this section describes a technique for creating a single composite nadir shot from your two originals. It's basically just a way to reduce the number of image files you have laying around, but it probably creates more work than it's worth. Nevertheless, I present the information here for your education:

Creating a Composite Nadir Shot

Suppose that you have two nadir shots which were shot 180º to each other like these (shot with an old Raynox 185º lens):

To composite them we just overlay one shot over the other and then paint out the pan-head arm. To do this, open both files in Photoshop. Rotate one image 180º and then Copy-Paste it into the other file. This will create a 2nd layer, so set the opacity of it to ~50%. You'll get something like this:

What you want to do now is to try and align the two layers as closely as possible. We're going to be using the bottom layer for most of this image. The top layer is only being used as a patch for that part of the tripod/pan-head that we can mask out with it. So, don't worry if the entire image isn't lining up exactly. The important part that needs to be aligned is the part that we're masking out. In this case, the pan-head's arm on the bottom layer is on the left side of the image. So, when aligning the top image, we're mainly interested in the left area of it. When the two images are aligned, they'll look like this:

You'll notice that the image is very well aligned on the left side where the pan-head arm is - the piano keys are all aligned and the molding against the wall is too. However, the image is way out of alignment on the right side, but that's ok because we're not going to be masking anything there.

Now we're ready to mask out the pan-head. Set the top layer's opacity back to 100% and then select Add Layer Mask from the Layer menu. Select the Hide All option to create a black transparency mask. All that needs to be done now is to paint the mask to mask out the pan-head like so:

Just like magic, the pan-head will disappear as you paint in the transparency mask! When you're done, you'll have an image like this:

We will remove the rest of the tripod and pan-head with Photoshop after the cubic pano has been created - that is covered in Section 8. If you need to photograph details that are directly under the tripod then this method doesn't really get you anywhere. The only way to shoot what's under the tripod is to remove the tripod and shoot the nadir hand-held. You may have to shoot at a very high ISO and very small f-stop in order to get the shutter speed high enough to do this safely.

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