Basilica in Vertorama using the Platyball by Bob Coates

Words by Bob Coates
Edited by Eryka Bagwell

(^ Completed image)


Vertorama, a shortened version of vertical panorama, doesn't necessarily have to be a tall thin photo. Even a single additional blended photo with another is a vertical panorama which gives you a different field of view and more pixels with which to work and support your scene.

(^ There was so much distortion, especially on the top image, Photomerge could not process the vertorama properly.)


In this image of St Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix, I placed the camera in the horizontal orientation and made four overlapping captures. Why horizontal? Just as we use the vertical orientation in a landscape panorama it’s to get a larger field of view. My overlap is about fifty percent when making an image like this because of the wide angle lens. I want to give my panorama blending software as much room as possible. If using a longer lens for a subject that is further away from the camera a smaller overlap of 20-30 percent would be OK as there would be less distortion.

(^ Here are the layers, masks and adjustment layer used to complete the processing.)


Not having a whole crew and tons of lighting equipment, I made five-stop exposure brackets in order to handle the lighting in post-production. In a scene like this, there are lots of space with deep shadows, spot-lit areas and stained glass windows with much brighter light. My camera was set to manual with a daylight White Balance. You don't want to let the camera make any decisions on auto, even if you are shooting in RAW (which I recommend). If you shoot in auto White Balance there may be differences in color between images.

Consistency is king when blending images. Images were made with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera and a 12mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 lens. Camera settings f/8 ISO 1600 time 1/4 sec to 1/40th second. Focus was set to manual and to the third pew in the bottom image. A higher ISO was used so brackets could be made in a timely fashion.

(^ Five image exposure bracket.)


Each bracket set was processed in Aurora 2019 HDR software using the same settings. In my experience, the Aurora 2019 HDR gives a natural looking blend from highlight to shadow with minimal artifacts.

(^ Image blended with Aurora HDR 2019 before final color correction. All the same settings were used for each HDR capture.)


The four exposure blended photos were processed using Photoshop’s Photomerge. Surprise! There was so much distortion by tilting the wide-angle lens almost straight up in the fourth frame the panorama software couldn’t handle it. Processing plan number two was engaged. I merged the first three images with much better results. After the merge, I did some perspective correction. I then expanded my canvas and the fourth image was brought in. Using the Transform tool in Perspective and Warp mode, I added a layer mask  to blend with the other three images.

In the next vertorama article I’ll share some inexpensive ideas to get even better results in your vertorama and panorama stitching.

After the images were blended together, adjustment layers were added to do color correction. A Soft Light layer was also invoked in order to dodge and burn for further adjustment of highlights and shadows.

Next up:

Click here to view the Vertorama indoor 'How To' guide with Bob Coates

Yours in Creative Photography,


To view more of Bob Coates work visit his website, his YouTube channel, his Facebook Page, you can also see Bob on the Platypod Official Users Group on Facebook or on his Instagram page 

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