By Noel Dong
The drone is an amazing tool that complements the photographer's arsenal but it has it's draw backs.
In order to keep drones portable and the price down for the average consumer, the sensor is smaller tends to be smaller than those found on most professional cameras. This results in images that are a lower resolution than what you might prefer for your own work.
The latest DJI Mavic 2 Pro, my current drone, also doesn't have the ability to flip the camera into portrait mode like the older DJI Mavic Pro.
By stitching together multiple images in a panorama we can create a higher resolution image that can be cropped without any major loss in image quality. This higher quality image can also be cropped to suit portrait orientation without having to fly too far away from your subject to achieve a portrait shot.
Without further adieu this is how you accomplish a drone panorama shot!
Step 1: Adjusting your drone settings.
I recommend turning on the framing guidelines.
Not only does having these one assist with composition of your shots they also help you line up your individual images so you have enough overlap between shots to stitch the panorama in post-processing.
Taking the shots makes use of panning the camera vertically so this will help with lining up your shots.
Make sure your white balance is set correctly for the scenery you're shooting as you'll be merging all the shots - you don't want any variations in colour with the the final panorama.
Step 2: Shooting.
This technique makes use of panning the camera module vertically in and up and down motion while taking shots.
The idea is to overlap each image by around a third - this is where the framing guides help. The number of shots you take will depend on what you're shooting. Most panoramas I've taken are at least 3 shots merged.
For each shot I also recommend focusing before each shot to ensure that each shot is in focus - we don't want out of focus shots merging into your final panorama.
In the end you should get shots that look a little something like this:
Step 3: Photo-merging.
Now that you have your shots you can import them into Adobe Lightroom.
Once imported select all the images in the set you've taken, right click, and select Photomerge > Panorama.
If take a lot of these, like I do, you can select the panorama set you've taken and use the Ctrl+M photo merge short cut to streamline your process.
The process may take some time depending on your computer's specifications but eventually a dialogue will pop up that looks like this:
Here you have three options to chose from for the panorama: Spherical, Cylindrical or Perspective.
Cycle through each option to see which option works best for you and select Merge.
The final image will look a little something like this:
Step 4: Editing.
Now you have your final image you can crop and edit it to your taste.
I personally like the 2:3 ratio crop but I also do a few 4:5 ratio crops for Instagram.
The resulting image is a much higher resolution than a single drone shot so cropping down doesn't result in a significant drop in quality, plus if you've shot in RAW the final panorama is a RAW file that is a lot easier to manipulate.
Have a go with your own panorama and see how it is a worthy addition to your aerial photography skill tree.