A panorama, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “an unbroken view of the whole region surrounding an observer”. For photography it is difficult to find an authoritative definition. However, it generally accepted though, that a panoramic photograph is at least three times bigger in on direction than another. Alternatively, it should take in a view of 170°. And yes, technically, they can be vertical as well as horizontal, but horizontal is far more common.
A panorama can be taken in a single shot, but taking several is much more common. The camera, usually in portrait orientation, takes a succession of shots; panning from left to right. You then “stitch together” the shots in post processing.
A level base for your panorama
There are several important things to remember. First, your tripod base must be level. If it is not, your shots will successively get higher or lower meaning that, after processing you have a diagonal picture. You will want to crop that to the more traditional rectangle, and in doing so you will loose lots of image.
A sturdy tripod on level ground is best. How many times have you stood on levelled ground and thought about a panorama – no me neither. I use a base leveller, which allows goes between the tripod and the head. It tilts to make the base level (the clue was in the name) and can be locked to secure that level.
Overlapping the images
To enable the images to be stitched together without sudden lighting or colour changes between the different images, the images should overlap by about a third. Use features in the image as markers to facilitate this.
Problems in the image
There may be issues with things moving in your image. Let’s say a boat travels across your field of view as you take the images. The boat could appear several times in your combined image, which would look most odd.
My own panorama experience
I tried out this technique on my trip to Hanningfield Reservoir. My trial results are below.
I used Lightroom to stitch the images together, and to do some post processing. Let me know in the comments what you think!