city-merged-advertI love to merge numerous photos because you can create beautiful panoramic landscapes without needing any special lenses. This merging technique can be done with any photos, even cell phone photos, as long as you have Photoshop ;)

Keep in mind that while you can merge as many photos as you like, the more you merge the more thinking power your computer is going to need because the more you merge the bigger that file becomes. If you merge two images that are each 4MB large – then the outcome will be 8MB large (etc) so just be careful not to crash your computer J rather downsize the images first if you don’t have a super-fast computer.

Step one …I guess a good place to start is behind the camera taking the photos. You need to have a panoramic-merge in mind when you take the photos.

Set your camera to manual and select the best aperture and shutter speed. Don’t change this between photos. You need a constant exposure throughout the series of photos otherwise one photo will end up much brighter or darker than the next and you won’t be able to merge them nicely.

I don’t bother with a tripod – but it does help!

Now starting at one side of your scene – take a photograph, then (keeping the horizon at the same level in the image) move the camera along and take the next photo with a 1/4th of the frame overlap of the first image. Do this until you have photographed your entire scene.

I do suggest that if this is your first time – merge a maximum of three images.

With your three images (or however many you are tackling) saved into one specific folder on your computer (VERY IMPORTANT: don’t do ANY editing to them yet, you can edit them once they are merged) open Photoshop.

With Photoshop open > select File > Automate > Photomerge.

Layout you can set to Auto.
Select the three little boxes near the bottom of the frame that say: Blend images together, Vignette removal & Geometric distortion correction.

Now click Browse and go to the folder on your computer where your images are saved. Hold down Ctrl and click on each image so that they are selected and then press Open.

Now (this is the fun part) Click OKAY!

Now wait….if your computer is slow you are going to have to wait a while so be patient.

When it’s done your image will look something like this…

(messy and nothing like you were expecting? Well don’t stress it’s going to look great when you are done.)

Now we want to clean up the gaps.
This process is a mix of three tools:
1) Transform: Distortion or perspective tool
2) the Clone Stamp tool
3) if you are lucky enough to have CS5: Content Aware Delete

First – right click your bottom layer and select > Flatten Image. Now you have one layer and can work on it as a single image.

If you have CS5 – select the corners one at a time, just the empty spaces and a little of the edge of the image and click delete. When the delete options window pops up > select Content Aware delete from there.

Sometimes it doesn’t delete how you want it to in which case you can use the stamp clone tool to neaten up or try selecting smaller areas to do the content aware delete feature on.

If you don’t have CS5 this process is going to take a little more patience as you need to zoom right in and use your close stamp to fill in those open areas.

(for a list of the tools and where to find the clone stamp check out this tutorial on the tools)

When you have finished your gap-filling-in your image will look something like this:


Now we can see that there is a massive curve in the horizon towards the one side of the image. A small curve really isn’t anything to worry about, but its pretty bad in my image.

So I am going to Select the whole image (Ctrl+A) and then transform it (Ctrl+T). With your transform frame active around your image (you can see this because there are little squares and a dotted flashing line around your whole image) you can right-click anywhere on the image and in that drop down list select “Warp” (the other options in that list might also help if you want to play around with them to see what they do)

Then you select the points on the warp lines now visible in your image and drag the horizon to where you want it to be.

Now it is just a case of brightening and editing the image as though it was a normal image (check out our other Photoshop tutorials if you aren’t sure how to do that.)

And congrats! You have merged your photos!

Here is my outcome after some brightening and what not:

city-merged

Here are some other panoramic merges I have created

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