Panorama of Castle of Molyvos

Small panorama of town of Molyvos
Picture 1. Panorama photo of the medieval castle of Molyvos.

While on a holiday in Greece I decided to try for the first time to create a panorama photo which consists of several photos. I had read about the subject so I knew the basic principles about photographing panoramas:

  • To make post processing easier one should keep the settings of the camera the same in each photo
  • In practice photographing of panoramas requires the use of a tripod
  • Adjacent photos must partly overlap with each other

The Subject: The Castle of Molyvos I decided that my subject would be a medieval castle shining on top of the town of Molyvos and the settlement around it (Picture 1). I installed my tripod to the edge of the road and started photographing. I tilted my camera to vertical position to get the best possible vertical resolution into the panorama photo. I adjusted the settings of the camera manually in order to keep them the same in each photo. I took a few test shots to find the best exposure and after that I took eight adjacent photos (Picture 4). The taking of the photos was made easier by Manfrotto 460MG three-way camera head where each axis is separately controlled by an individual lock.
Digital Image Processing

Four left-hand photos of castle of Molyvos
Picture 2. I stitched four left-hand photos with Photoshop's Photomerge.
Four right-hand photos of castle of Molyvos
Picture 3. I stitched four right-hand photos with Photoshop's Photomerge.

I opened the raw photos into Photoshop and made a few adjustments in the Adobe Camera Raw software. I thought I would maximize the image quality and stitch all eight (16 bit, 10 megapixel) photos into one panorama by using Photoshop's Photomerge operation (File > Automate > Photomerge...). However, that was far too laborious a task for my computer (Intel Core 2 Duo E4300, 4GB RAM, 8GB Virtual Memory, Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit). Photoshop crashed after a few minutes. Out of my four gigabyte of memory Photoshop is able to utilize only 1.7GB and obviously that wasn't enough. After multiple try-outs I ended up first converting photos to 8 bit and after that creating the panorama with Photomerge in three phases:

  • I stitched 4 left-hand photos (Picture 2)
  • I stitched 4 right-hand photos (Picture 3)
  • I stitched the left and the right part (Picture 5)
Eight adjacent photos of castle of Molyvos (Lesbos, Greece)
Picture 4. Eight vertical photos for the panorama.
Photos of castle of Molyvos are stitched to panorama photo
Picture 5. I used Photomerge for the third time to stitch left and right part of the photo into one panorama photo.
Panorama photo of castle of Molyvos (Lesbos, Greece)
Picture 6. The final photograph after several Photoshop operations. I decided to crop the image heavily to enhance the composition. The pixel size of the final photo is 4552 x 12405.

I chose cylinderical layout in the Photomerge which is best suited for creating wide panoramas. Photomerge did the stitching of the photos pretty fast and the end result was a perfectly seamless photo. The pixel size of the panorama photo was 4552 x 18309. However, I decided to crop the photo heavily to enhance the composition. The pixel size of the final photo is 4552 x 12405. The resolution of the final picture is 4-5 times more than in a panorama made of one photo. The final photo could be printed with pretty high quality (200dpi) to the size of 60cm x 160cm.