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Vertorama in the extreme

As a Platypod Ambassador, I was tasked to show how to make extreme vertoramas with the help of the Platyball tripod head. Vertoramas are panoramas turned 90 degrees. This is the vertorama I made in Sedona on Oak Creek.

You can learn how I modified the Platyball adding a few bits and pieces to make the lens rotate around the light entry point of the lens for better stitching in two previous articles here and here.

A quick video showing the setup and scene that was turned into an extreme vertorama.

Vertorama out in the field

Here’s an example of an extreme vertorama using nature as the subject. This image captures the scene from just in front of the tripod, behind where I’m standing. A 10-image capture, when stitched, results in a 21,000 pixel image that will print to over 70 inches long at 300 ppi. You can print it easily at 125-150 ppi and generate a print that is 140 inches or more. That’s a lot of print! This technique can be used when printing panoramas as well.

vertorama images
Screen shot of the 10 images used in creating this vertorama.

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock on Oak Creek in Sedona, Arizona is one of the most photographed landscapes in the US. Creating a “different” look screams vertorama! Source images were made with about a 50% overlap with a five stop exposure bracket. Multiple exposures allow more latitude in processing during post production since I was shooting into shadow areas and bright sky as various parts of the scene.

Post production

The first stop after the download of images in this case is to Aurora HDR 2019 to blend the exposures together. You can pick your HDR software. Photoshop and Lightroom both have HDR capabilities. I Like Aurora HDR 2019 as I’ve been using it for a while and find it creates a very natural blend of highlight to shadow with very little in the way of HDR artifacts that was apparent in many previous HDR software programs.

photoshop layers palette for vertorama
Photoshop Layers Palette showing masks. The bottom six layers were stitched and masked by Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop for the blend

Next step is to stitch images together. Use your favorite stitching program. I’m currently using Photoshop’s PhotoMerge feature. (See “How to set up your camera for better panoramas and vertoramas.”) If you are planning to make a lot of panoramas and vertoramas, you might also consider getting PTGUI to attain even higher quality vertorama and panorama stitching.

Photoshop’s Photomerge had a hard time stitching the entire vertorama in one pass, as the open sky areas with no detail didn’t give it enough information. There is always a workaround. Had to find a way on this stitch. Taking the first five images, Photomerge created a stitch of the images in front of the camera. Then, I made another stitch fusing the two images with detail behind the camera. Placing those images in proper position at the top and bottom of the frame, I added the three additional sky images in between. Then, blending those images with hand masks and some “Transform” tooling to complete the vertorama.

photoshop photomerge image with additional layers added
A 10-image stitch. Edges are usually off just a bit. You can fill these automatically using the “Content Aware Fill Transparent Areas” when creating the stitch. I prefer to make the fill decision and often crop in just a bit.
extreme vertorama
Final vertorama following cropping and fill. This 21,000 pixel image can easily print to 70+ inches at 300 dpi.

If you have any questions about vertoramas, don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected].

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob