Use Manual Exposure for Stitched Panoramas

If you want to get the best results when creating panorama shots from several frames, then Manual exposure mode is your friend. The sky especially, and some times land forms, varies in brightness across a wide view. If you rely on Program or Aperture Priority exposure modes to take all the shots, they may not blend together seamlessly when you use software to combine them. The sky can often be much brighter on one end of the panorama from the opposite end.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area at Dawn
Las Vegas, Nevada

To ensure the exposures stay consistent across the scene, meter the light from a center portion of the view you want to capture. Dial in your ISO, f-stop and shutter speed in Manual exposure mode. (I also recommend choosing a preset white balance, such as sunny or cloudy, instead of auto, and keeping the focal length constant.) Then photograph all the frames with the same settings. This ensures that any variations across the sky are the result of natural changes in brightness rather than decisions your camera has made.

Six frames all captured at the same exposure using Manual mode

If you want to take more control of your photos by mastering manual exposure, join me at the Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, Montana, on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Click here to register.