Thursday, 6 August 2020

Creating a Panoramic Drone Image.

Over the last couple of years i have been increasingly shooting aerial images with the aim to produce panorama and Vertorama images .
Here is an example of how i go about editing a panorama image. A Vertorama (vertical panorama is almost the same method)   
When shooting with the drone , in my case the DJI phantom 4 pro , it has a panorama shooting mode which takes 9 images automatically, three rows of three.   This is my preferred way of shooting but it is hit and miss sometimes when shooting from the sea looking back at the coastline, as the bottom often gets cut off and you get too much sky in place.   So in this example I have shot frames manually, four rows of four making sure to have enough sky and foreground sea in all the frames .

Opening up my RAW images in Lightroom i have selected the 16 frames , then press Ctrl M to open them in the panorama screen.

I have unchecked all the boxes on the right hand side of the screen, I don't want any cropping to be done and Auto settings produces fake looking colours most of the time which take a lot more effort to correct afterwards.  I always try all three projection settings on each image to see the differences , Spherical most often is best for standard panoramas, but Vertoramas often need the other two methods to produce the best looking image without distortion.  
This is the result of the merge , the sky is missing top right but that is easily corrected later in photoshop using the original corner image.  Leaving uncropped also leaves me the option to have as much sea in the foreground to suit the composition , auto crop would cut off too much.  Click Merge and is creates a merged DNG image in the Lightroom catalogue.

Open the merged file and in full screen I have cropped to my final composition , there is a small amount of sea to clone in bottom right corner along with the sky to fill in .

Here I have done some basic adjustments before finally cropping to bring the flat looking image to resemble the actual scene I photographed with soft early morning light, trying to produce as natural looking image as possible.

The image is now exported into Photoshop , the spot healing brush has cloned the missing part of the bottom right corner easily.  Now I have opened the original top right corner frame with the missing sky ,( i have no idea why it missed it out in the panoramic merge) as a layer on top of the image , Using Edit/Transform/distort  the image is stretched so the sky reach's the top of the image . Now clicking on the Square white layer mask icon at the bottom of layers pallete to create a mask and using a soft brush at 50% opacity , the two images are blended together to produce a seamless result.  Altering brush opacity as required.

The sky has blended nicely and pressing  "Layer / new adjustment /levels - to add a "Levels" adjustment on this layer ,using the middle slider to brighten and match the rest of the sky it is looking good.  A  " Levels" adjustment has also lightened the sea and with a "Curves" layer to add shadow/highlights the image is nearly finished .

After a few more minor adjustments here is the finished image, I actually moved the sky layer to the left to merge in better and added a slight increase to the colours with a Vibrance layer to bring out the beautiful sea colour (it is more subtle than a saturation adjustment) Shadows/midtones have been increased slightly also.    Then "layer/merge visible" is pressed to flatten the layers into a single image which can be saved in the required format , jpg , tiff ect.   

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