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Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography Book Review

Express Summary

Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography is a 151-page soft-cover book by Harald Woeste devoted to teaching panoramic photography using any digital camera. The book covers the subject end-to-end though a variety of contextual information and case studies from the author's professional photography.

Covering panoramic photography from its history to its publication in a relatively short book of general interest means that specific details such as how to use panorama software are limited. General topics like the principles of panoramic photography, how to shoot digital panoramas and printing them are covered to reasonable lengths though.

This book is well illustrated with examples and plenty of figures, showing panoramas, panoramic photography, gear, diagrams and even software screenshots. The accompanying text is an easy read and advances fairly quickly from one topic to the next. The case studies are recounts of very specific panoramic photography projects.

Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography is available for purchase from Amazon.

Book Review

Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography is about exploring the entire topic from its very beginners to modern usage and techniques. Although the word Digital appears in the title, Harald Woeste begins with the history of panoramas which surprisingly started in the 18th century.

The preface of the book is an ideal overview of the book which shows very thoughtful organization in six blocks. The first five blocks each get their own chapter and the sixth takes on the last four chapters, one per case-study. The first chapter, basics includes history lessons, discussion on visual perception and a brilliant explanation of Projections which are essential to rendering panoramas but often misunderstood.

The second chapter is devoted to shooting. This one describes and compares equipment needed to create panoramas as well as how to set and move the camera to capture shots which are most suitable for creating panoramas. Here the book covers in great details different types of panoramic heads and how the compare to each other in practical terms.

The following charpter covers the principles of stitching which gives a thorough understand of what is involved in the process. There is more detail information on projects too, along with wire-frame renderings to visualize how images are distorted to form panoramas. A short chapter on Panorama Software follows. This is the most skimpy chapter in the book with only vague details about each piece of software. They do work rather differently, so putting more software-specific information would make the book require frequent revisions.

There is a quick interlude before the project-oriented charpters. This one showcases beautiful panoramas up to 360° in field-of-view. Some simple long distance shots, interior shots, street panoramas and even the interior of a vehicle. This represent a broad range of what is possible with digital panoramic photography.

The last four chapters cover the detailed workflow of creating a number of panoramas for different commercial purposes. There is a good account of how images were captured, the equipment used, software used and even some post-processing steps along with screenshots of panoramic and image maniupulation software in use. The one disappoiting aspect is that the author describes much more what he did than how. Numbers are often shown in the UI for software but we have no clue as to why these are the required numbers.

Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography is an excellent read for those starting with panoramic photography and those which are struggling with it. What it does extremely well is explain the end-to-end process of creating panoramas. It is easy to appreciate that the author produced custom diagrams to illustrate difficult subjects to grasps such as Projections. After reading the book, it is much easier to understand how the pieces of panoramic photography fit together.

To get started quickly with making your first panorama photo and to learn how modern panorama software compare, visit this panorama photo site. It includes a tutorial and recomendation of state of the art tripods, ball-heads and panoramic heads for most budgets.

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