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Digital photography requires a solid workflow, allowing for professional preparing of digital photo files for the web and print. For the Digital Photography Workflow series, we consulted with a number of experienced professional photographers who are also stellar photo.net members and frequent contributors to the Photo.net Digital Darkroom forum, to walk us through their specific photography techniques and tips on post-processing images.
In this article, Jean-Sébastien offers advice on how to stitch together panoramas using Autopano Pro. The article is enhanced with illustrative figures and screen shots, and includes example images from Jean’s portfolio. Whether you are just entering the world of digital photography and need some tips and advice on how best to post-process your images, or are a seasoned pro, the insights shared here should be helpful with your own digital post-processing techniques.
What you can do with Autopano Pro
Autopano Pro has been created to automatically process images and find panoramas from your local files, even if you had no prior knowledge and that your camera was set to fully-automatic operation. However, I would advise you to at least set your white balance manually before shooting. When the contrast is high, you might need to shoot several photos, and adjust exposure to get details in the shadows and highlights. Autopano will then be able to adjust luminosity and make the best of your photos. Here is a set of photos that I have shot [31 and 45].
Using Autopano to Create Panoramas
Autopano reads JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP, as well RAW from many cameras. Once you launch it [Screenshot 1] and open a folder , it will automatically detect the panoramas from the images you’ve loaded, trying to stitch them together. Options can be set to help this process as you can see from the dialog box.
Once images are loaded , pressing the Play button will launch the automatic detection of panoramas . This takes some time as lens distortion and various adjustments are also addressed during this process . I would advice to only run it on selected files, rather than the whole directory of your holidays photographs.
The result is a list of available panoramas from you to choose from [8, 9].
You can use the Edit button to adjust a panorama or simply render it by clicking on Process .
The panorama editor provides several options .
We are going to have a more detailed look at them. First thing you notice is that the image is tilted. Use to fix it .
Various tone-mapping options are possible. For a quick start, you can go to Tone Mapping RH2 . The dialog offers a way to adjust luminosity through the Key value  as you can see on the two examples [19, 20]. You can play with that until you are satisfied or use the Levels as described below. The Tone Mapping RH2 is actually more useful for HDR, as we will see later on.
Various projections are also possible. Architecture fans will love the Planar projection  whereas regular panorama users will probably stick to the Spherical.  The Planar projection will tend to create straight lines whereas Spherical better recreates what you have seen.
The Levels are similar to those in Photoshop. Playing with the Gamma point  makes the image brighter or darker, whereas the black and white points of the histogram help you make sure to achieve the tonal range that you are looking for. In the example, I could for instance raise the black point a little bit to the right until it touches the histogram.
Once you’re done, click on Process and you’ll get an option dialog . It is possible to save your file in Photoshop format, keeping the layers intact for further adjustments. I found it quite useful to set up my DPI to 300, and then move the scale factor  until I’m pleased with the size of the generated image.