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Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography [Paperback]

Harald Woeste
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Nov 2009

The unusual perspective of a panoramic image creates a unique and intriguing visual experience for the viewer. Skillfully executed, panoramic photography can realize scenes which could otherwise never be captured in an image or seen with the naked eye.

Panoramas offer new possibilities for creative photographers, either as flat, two-dimensional images, or mapped into a 3D space that can be visited on a virtual tour. New, powerful, panorama software makes the workflow easier and more efficient than ever before.

Author Harald Woeste takes the reader on a tour from the basics of capturing panoramas, all the way through stitching, editing, and printing panoramic images. He provides a detailed description of the necessary equipment and materials, as well as the various software tools that can be used in the workflow. The latter half of the book illustrates the making of panoramas through a number of example projects.

In Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography you will find everything you need to know to create amazing panoramic images.

Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Rocky Nook; 1 edition (7 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933952458
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933952451
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 25 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 576,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Harald Woeste lives in Bonn, Germany where he works as a designer and photographer for international clients. Digital photograhic panoramas was the subject of his thesis at the "Universitaet der Kuenste" in Berlin, and it has become one of the tools for his work as an artist and designer. One of the widely recognized projects of Harald Woeste is the panoramic capture of the exhibit "Einstein, Engineer of the Universe" in Berlin.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography 30 Dec 2009
By DTurpin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came to this book with a long standing background in amateur club level photography. My main creative experience however dates from before the introduction of the Autofocus SLR - never mind the digital era!

Not to say I am a total Luddite in this respect - I have retained my interest and adopted the digital medium - but more on "point and shoot" basis than a creative one.

I had dabbled with panoramic prints in the past and the concept of exploring them further from the digital angle appealed.

This book starts its introduction to digital panorama work at such a level that I could follow the principles and theories being applied all the way through. The approach is a hybrid of mathematical theory, applied physics and digital application. Do not be put off though! This is not high level stuff. If you can cope with the concepts of f numbers, focal lengths and shutter speeds this book will not leave you floundering!

The more practical sections about taking panoramic shots were quite an eye opener! The requirement to rotate the camera precisely about the "No-Parallax" point was not something that had occurred to me - but the fact that it is considered here is an indication of the level of precision present in the work being described. The book takes you through a review of the specialist equipment required for managing the camera rotation and reviews those currently available - providing a useful analysis of the pros and cons of each option. The review of the choice of lens focal length best for this work is also useful and well presented.

In the main section of the book the software packages available for use in the various steps of creating panoramas are considered and their performance and usability is compared.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All the information I needed in one place 28 Dec 2009
By Daniel
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Before buying this book I was searching for information about panoramic photography. Of course today you can find anything on the internet but the book it is more useful because you can have all the information in one place.
Inside there are a lot of details about how to adjust the camera, the tripod head, color settings, parallax errors and much more. In a nutshell: all the information you need to start and become a professional in panoramic photography.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still learning the art 3 Nov 2009
I have accumulated a number of 'How to' Panoramic Books and I suppose that I will continue to, for me I can never stop learning about this fascinating area of Photography. When it's done right a Panorama will take your breath away. This is as good a starting Book as any and is up to date with the latest gizmos, although If I am being picky these Books never have enough examples of the full Workflow process.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and easy to understand 10 Nov 2010
This is an excellent book on the technique of mastering Panoramic photography. If you wish to understand the mechanics of taking and creating panoramic photographs, then this is the book for you. As well as a practical approach to the equipment required, the book covers the theory o panoramic photography, and also the software required. Though there is a wealth of information available on the web on this subject, it is not collated in a single work which you can easily digest. Excellently translated from it's original German, it's a well thought out book on a fascinating subject. I don't think I would have been able to progress to the level in this art form as quickly without the aid of this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed, Technical Education on Panoramic Photography 4 Feb 2010
By Jeremy Hall - Published on
I found it interesting to read some of the other reviews prior to writing my own evaluation of this book. The information and approach taken by Woeste seems to be a definitely hit or miss with the audience that has chimed in. Here's why I think this is the case.

If you are looking for a simple step-by-step approach to getting a great stitched panoramic photo, this may not be the book for you. Though there is plenty of how-to type instruction with well documented screen shots, it is not presented in the recipe to success approach taken by some books.

Conversely, if you are the type that likes to get the entire picture (pun kinda intended in this case), including all the background, history, technique and philosophy to the panoramic technique, then this is the book for you. Woeste provides superb examples, front annotated behind-the-scenes setup views to beautiful examples of his own work, to compliment a thorough walk through panoramic photography. The history of the craft is included, giving some interesting background.

The detailed view of tripod heads & gear definitely puts this book beyond the avid amateur who is looking for just the basic simple software solution for stitching some photos together. Perhaps that is this books biggest difficulty, finding the right audience. Even so, for the photographer that enjoys knowing the deep details and options available in this area, I'd say this book is a good offering.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the Round 12 Oct 2009
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on
Aside from the obvious benefits of digital over other photography media, like greater control over exposures and post-processing adjustments, digital photography has enabled us to improve older techniques so that photographers are better able to convey their vision. Images that covered more than the normal angle of view, called panoramas, were first created in 1787, using large scale circular paintings in which the viewer was centered in the painting. Today, with very little additional equipment, a digital photographer can create very wide angle images, with great detail, by stitching together several separate images. He or she can even create virtual realities (also known as spherical projections), where a viewer can have the effect of being completely surrounded by an image. Particularly amazing is not just the angle of view, which can exceed any wide angle lens, but the resolution of the final image.

Harold Woeste provides an introduction to panoramic photography. After reviewing the history of panoramas, Woeste introduces the special equipment necessary to capture the images to be used in the panorama. While a panorama can be captured using a hand held camera, better results will ensue using a tripod with a specially designed head when shooting the series of images required for a panorama. The author then discusses the computer software necessary to stitch together the images. He also shows methods of outputting the images, which includes both wide flat prints of great detail and images which must be viewed on a computer and which allow the viewer to select any direction to look, including even up and down.

An important part of the book is the description of four different panorama projects that the author worked on, moving from the initial idea for the project, through the special considerations in capturing the images, to the use of multiple software packages to maximize the quality of the image, to the final output as a print or computer file.

On the other hand, Woeste's level of detail is at the familiarization level, not the practical level of actually taking the images or using the software. Thus, as I followed along I occasionally encountered references that I did not understand, such as control points, which were not related to the Photoshop CS4 software that I normally use, but are contained in PTGui, a more advanced piece of software that can be used for difficult situations and for spherical images. To fully comprehend what the author was saying, I had to download PTGui (there's a free trial available) and spend several hours reading the instructions (which were not very well organized) and even process a few trial images. On the other hand, snap shooters who aren't willing to spend the time and effort, are also not likely try their hand at panoramas, and understanding the uses of PTGui will certainly help if one encounters a problem where PTGui can provide a useful solution. I suppose I would have liked just a little more detail. For example, Woeste suggests that while PTGui is great for stitching, one can have better results if one saves the image and then blends it in Photoshop. Unfortunately neither Woeste nor the PTGui instructions mention that the stitched image must be saved as a PSD file rather than a TIFF to do this. Perhaps what I really wanted was a better PTGui instruction manual.

In any case, if you are a photographer who wants to move beyond the simple flat image capture and processing, wants to know what's available to help you create better panoramas, and wants to see some of the possibilities available in panoramic photography, this book will provide a good introduction.

NOTE: Since I wrote this review I've found that there is a way to save PTGUI files as TIFFs.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good guide to panorama photography 9 Dec 2009
By Kent Baker - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book very valuable in providing a great deal of technical expertise on this subject. I enjoyed the historical section, although I was already very familiar with the old techniques presented here (I have been involved in photography for 47 years), but I think those who are newer will find it fascinating. The very explicit explanations of parallax problems and how to remedy them with special tripod heads and 'L' brackets was very informative. I also liked the information on vertical panorama techniques and how to correct the distortions introduced by shooting with the camera pointed up. Although I already know how to do much of what is in the book (from long years of experience), I really appreciated the thorough coverage of the subject and how it is related to digital photography and techniques. After all, digital cameras are so good at panoramic photography that essentially all camera manuifacturers have ceased production of their film panoramic cameras (Fuji, Hasselblad, etc.). Anyone interested in panoramic photography would do well to study the methods and techniques in this book. the reason that I gave it only four stars instead of 5 is that those who mainly capture landscapes, with no close foreground objects, will need only a small amount of the information presented in the book, which spends a lot of pages on avoiding parallax problems and their remedies in situations that most of us avoid. That said, you should still be aware of those problems, and their solution. And the author does offer more simple solutions than buying expensive, specialized equipment - making the book worthwile for that alone!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I know what to do to make good panoramic images 8 Dec 2009
By Jack Durham - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Woesta explains with geometric graphics, screen shots, and resulting images why simple methods to make panoramas by combining 2 or more shots usually fails. By simple methods, I mean hand-held shots and standard tripod shots in which the camera is rotated. The author explains the concept of "Virtual Reality" (VR) vertical axis. If your lens does not rotate on this lens dependent VR axis, the stitched seam in the panorama will mismatch. The standard tripod is not a solution, as I have demonstrated to myself many times -- unless the seam occurs were there are no critical details. The author shows tripod heads that put the lens on the VR axis. You can make a cheap tripod head that is an aluminum plate bent into a "L" shape or you can buy a manufactured tripod head. These include heads that are manufactured to work with a specific lens and a variety of heads that are not specific lens-dependent that allow for complex adjustments to attain the VR axis position for the lens.

Other problems solved include parallax, focus, white balance and exposure. When the photographer has solved those problems, it is time to face the challenge of stitching the individual shots. You can't really manually overlap and color match the seams and get a high quality result. The are cheap stitching software programs that do do low quality work; the author ignores these, but they are a starting point for beginners. If you want to do high-quality stitched panoramas, Woesta does you a big favor by discussings the pros/cons of these four commercial software programs that do high quality work: PTGui Pro, Autodesk Stitcher, Adobe Photoshop, and Kolor Autopano Pro.

Finally, the author discusses post-processing of the stitched panorama.

Prior to reading the book, I had given up making panoramas. I'm encouraged by this book to get the proper tools and try again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The fast track to panoramas is in this book 12 Mar 2010
By J. Price - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really love 360 degree, panoramic SWFs as a great way to share locations in an immersive, interactive way.

Just stick the SWFs on a web-site and interested observers around the world can partake.

But, there is a ton on info to assimilate and understand to make a really great panorama. This book gets you pointed in the right direction very quickly.

While there is considerable written discussion / explanation, it is well written and very interesting to read. The author also uses many diagrams and pictures to clearly reveal what's going on. It's a real 1 - 2 punch approach to getting across the needed information.

A great book, worth every penny.
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