Photomerge in Photoshop

March 19, 2010

Photo Tips

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III__EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM__1/250 sec at f / 6.7__ISO 100

PhotoMerge in Photoshop offers many creative options for photographers. Below are examples of recent images of mine using PhotoMerge. I’ll discuss my approach for each image, and hopefully you will get some ideas for your own photography.

Several years ago, I found myself in nearby Yosemite Valley after a snowstorm. The fresh snow and low-angled light made a spectacular scene! I decided that this was a perfect time to create a panoramic image. Using my favorite 70-200mm lens, I composed vertically and exposed three images across the breadth of the Valley. I didn’t bother to level the tripod and camera since the light was changing quickly. However, I did frame more widely since I knew I would have to crop later in post-processing. PhotoMerge won’t align perfectly if each image isn’t linear to each other, but as long as you overlap the frames by about 30%, and you can visualize the final crop without sacrificing the composition, you’ll be ok.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III__TS-E90mm f/2.8 + Canon2x Extender__6.0 sec at f / 27__ISO 100

In my backyard, I have a rectangular bucket full of Mexican Pebbles that I bought many years ago from the local landscaping supplier. I aimed to the left for the first frame, then used the Shift function of my Tilt Shift lens, recomposing to include the stones in the right side of the bucket without moving the camera or tripod. I imported the resulting images into Lightroom, and inspected all the pairs I made to find the best and sharpest ones. I selected those two, then used LR’s Photo>Edit In>Merge to Panorama in PS.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III__TS-E90mm f/2.8__2.0 sec at f / 13__ISO 100

I made this image on my patio. The water reflects my ochre-colored stucco wall. I observed the afternoon light, timing my session for when the stones and water were in shadow but the wall remained lit. I was trying to find a good composition with a single frame but it wasn’t working. In order to isolate this pattern, I used my Canon TS-E90mm f/2.8 combined with my Canon 2X Extender to create a 180mm TS lens! I used the shift function as well as the forward tilt for increased depth of field. I made one exposure with the shift all the way to the left, and then “shifted” the lens all the way to the right while making sure I had enough overlap for PhotoMerge in PS4 to create the pano. I selected the best two images in Lightroom, then used LR’s Photo menu to “send” the two files to PS4 for merging.

Enjoy these creative options!

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This post was written by:

- who has written 3 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

William Neill is a photographer, author and teacher based in the Yosemite National Park area since 1977. He is the author of eleven books featuring his photography. Neill’s award-winning photography have also been widely published in magazines, calendars, posters, and his limited-edition prints have been collected and exhibited in museums and galleries nationally. Neill writes a regular column, On Landscape, for Outdoor Photographer magazine and has received the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography. You can follow Bill on twitter at and visit his website at

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One Response to “Photomerge in Photoshop”

  1. elfpix Says:

    Photomerge to make panos is so amazing. I used to make panos by hand – 5 images, 6 or 7 hours later, finally an acceptable bunch of seams.

    Now I’ve got 90″+ long panos which took my Mac 5 minutes to generate from 10-12 images.

    But the most interesting use I’ve found for Merge is to multiply some moving element in a scene – for my ecosystem it’s crashing surf, especially at the warm ends of the day.


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