The Photo Merge tool in Lightroom is really amazing for stitching panoramas. My only complaint is that I wish it had the Adaptive Wide Angle filter from Photoshop built in for correcting the perspective after stitching.
I don’t think I ever truly appreciated the scale of the Eiffel Tower until I was standing under it. It is an enormous structure, and beautiful to behold no matter how close or far away you are. This was not a shot I had planned to capture, but standing beneath the tower I remembered a similar image by my virtual photography mentor Serge Ramelli. Looking straight up at the tower, I realized that my 16 mm lens was not nearly wide enough for this shot. Late in the day, it was surprisingly not crowded at all within the fence (the surrounding area was very crowded though), so I decided to try a panorama.
I captured 20 frames all together to create this image. I was shooting handheld, so I tried to move the camera very carefully between shots without moving my body. The sun was going down behind the left side of the tower, and I think I must have remembered to check that area when setting the exposure (or else I just got lucky) because the highlights were not blown in any of the frames. I was shooting in manual mode to fix the exposure, but I think I left the autofocus on to ensure that each frame in sharp focus.
The image below shows the individial frames that make up this photo. I probably didn’t need to get 20 images, but I think it helped to reduce stitching errors in the final output.
The Photo Merge tool in Lightroom offers a few options for the projection to use. For this set of images, I tried both Spherical and Cylindrical (Perspective was not able to stitch these images).
I always experiment with the Boundary Warp settings in Photo Merge, but in this case the warp curved the legs of the tower inwards. I also tried the Transform tools in Lightroom, but they were not able to straighten out the curve of the first level of the tower. So I needed to use Photoshop to correct the distortion in the stitched image.
My Photoshop skills are not great, but I thought the Adaptive Wide Angle filter would be the best option for this image. I added 3 constraint lines: one to straighten the first level of the tower, a second to make the forward legs level with each other, and a third to make the tower vertical. These constraints are forced to horizontal or vertical by holding the Shift key when creating them.
I decided to try correcting both the Spherical and Cylindrical versions of the stitched image. After using Adaptive Wide Angle on both, they looked almost identical. However, the Spherical version was significantly larger than the Cylindrical version, and looked very sharp when zoomed at 1:1, so I kept the Spherical version. The resulting cropped image is 46 megapixels.
A few additional corrections were made in Photoshop using Content Aware Fill to remove some distracting elements under the tower and some cloning and warping to correct a few stitching errors and remove lens flare. I only spotted a handful of stitching errors-very impressive for a handheld multi-row pano.
Final edits were done in Lightroom and consisted of cropping, conversion to monochrome using one of Jim Welninski’s film profiles (Fuji Neopan 100 Acros), some basic adjustments, and the secret sauce of Split Toning. I absolutely love how this image turned out-I only wish I had somewhere to hang a 45-inch print!
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. For more images of France, please take a look at my other blog posts, or visit my France gallery.