Adobe recently released a new version of Lightroom that included two new hallmark features: HDR and Panorama. I’m still experimenting with the HDR tool and have yet to get any really good results, but the Lightroom 6 Panorama merge tool has quickly blown my mind away. Series of photos that would have taken hours to color grade and stitch together are created in a snap. I was shocked by the ease of use and the magnificence of the results, and quickly searched back through old Panorama series that I never took the effort to stick together. In a couple of days, I had merged together three and a half-dozen panoramas whose megapixel count would astound.
I suddenly realized how big a game changer this was. As an avid landscape photographer, I didn’t need a 50 megapixel camera to capture amazing poster-quality landscapes. In just a few moments, I could stitch a dozen photos together into amazing shots. Now, I have not bought into the megapixel madness that seems to have struck consumer photography. I have been completely satisfied with the 15-20 megapixel photos that my DSLRs have taken over the years. And I still have some beloved photos that fall in the 5–10 megapixel range. But, I was curious about the numbers, so with a few smart albums, I determined how many megapixels these stitched panoramas were:
|Megapixels||Number of Panoramas|
And how large, you ask, is that largest of my Panoramas? A whopping 64 megapixels.
The tool works so well I could hardly believe my eyes. Select the series you want to merge, go to Photo > Photo Merge > Panorama…. Select the projection type: spherical (i.e. rotating around a single point, like the photographer’s head), cylindrical (pan only, like on a tripod), over perspective (using the center most image as the reference point). You can also let Lightroom decide for you. If you’d like, you can let Lightroom choose the crop for you. This can be helpful in getting the maximum crop, but can also crop key parts of the scene if they are not within the ideal frame. All of this can be tested in the preview as you change these options.
What’s perhaps most powerful about this is that the final image remains in RAW format. So you still have the same ability to dynamically adjust exposure and color within the image. This was particularly powerful when comparing iPhone panoramas to my new Lightroom merged panoramas.
If you’d like to see it in action, Adobe’s own Julieanne Kost already has a video tutorial up to learn how the new feature works:
It takes some time to process these images, but your work is now done. The results will astound you. But enough of me talking, let’s look at some of the results.
One of my favorite pair of alpine lakes, Robin Lakes are a picturesque scene that is very hard to capture with the limited frame of a DSLR… until now. These stitched panoramas have me itching to get back there so I can really see what Lightroom can do.
Upper Thundermountain Lake
Getting to Robin Lakes involved a very long drive over a rutty road. I made it three times one year with my Prius over that road, but as the road has grown more rugged, i worry about getting my car over it. On top of that, Tuck and Robin are always busy with what little campsites are available, so weekends are hard up there. When I can’t get out to Robin, Thundermountain is a more than pleasant alternative. Although Robin still beats them Thundermountain lakes are no less breathtaking.
Lila Lakes and Alta Mountain
The view from atop Alta Mountain, looking down at the valley below, including the shining Lila Lakes, is hard to describe. But with Lightroom, I was able to stitch a 180 degree view of this panorama. I can’t wait to come back and try for the full 360.
This amazing peak in the middle of a beautiful trek of the Pacific Crest Trail, is a great moment for through hikers to get up and see the surrounding landscape, if they can spare the time. If they do, they are rewarded by a beautiful view of Mount Rainier, towering above Crystal Mountain and the surrounding terrain.
Of all the hikes last summer, this would be the perfect for some breathtaking panoramas. As the tallest peak in Pierce County, Mount Daniel towers above the rest. If I’d been thinking of Lightroom’s future release, I would have taken some more series to bring home the views.
Ingalls Peak and Headlight Basin
Another breathtaking peak, Ingalls is beautifully situated on the eastern side of the mountain.s But perhaps even more breathtaking than the views from above, are the larches down below.
Glacier Basin (Monte Cristo Area)
The now closed trail into Monte Cristo and up to Glacier Basin is a please walk through the woods. That is until you leave the old mining town and begin the trek up to Glacier Basin. Covered in snow, this basin offered some phenomenal panorama opportunities. I can’t wait until the road reopens and I can try my hand as some summer shots in that beautiful basin.
Core Enchantment Lakes
Robin Lakes and Thundermountain Lakes are both beautiful, but the Core Enchantments are another world. Once above the trees and into the Core, there is nothing but 360 degree panoramic views. These are just a few of the many I stitched together from my trip there last fall.
Lincoln City, Oregon
This more urban trip was nonetheless beautiful for the panoramic view of this chunk of Oregon’s Coast. The deep blue skies, blue-green waters, and brown and tan sand were a perfect color combination.
Downtown Seattle from a Ferry
And, of course, the opportunities for downtown Seattle shots are endless with panorama in mind. This shot is a bit crooked in the center, but as this new world is opened to me, I can’t wait to plan future Seattle cityscapes.