I had a request on my Facebook page recently about how to get good results from stitching with a drone, so I thought I would do a blog post to share what I have learned about stitching so far.
I currently fly a DJI Phantom 4 Pro and am very impressed with the overall performance of this machine when compared to where I started which was the Phantom 3.
To get the best out of your stitches, you need to do the following with your drone settings:
Shoot in RAW, Shoot in manual and try to avoid upping the ISO above 100 ISO. Open the aperture in preference to high ISO as it will be noisey!
Do a pan from left to right to check out the composition you are thinking of and make a mental note of where the left hand starting point and right hand starting points are.
Then pan back and swing the camera to full up position for the first pass. Note: I have found that panning down to get a composition of 2/3 1/3 will result in a few glitches in the horizon, especially if the horizon is water.
Start the stitch from the left and overlay the next image a lot and make to stitch 7-9 images across to the right.
When you get to where the stitch should finish, the pan down and overlay by at least 30% from the last right hand image.
Then pan back to the left and overlay the same amount as you did with the top pass.
Stop the bottom stitch sequence at about the same position as where you started to top sequence.
You can in you like, do another row from left to right, which will result in more of a square image than a pano.
Pull all of the images into your RAW converter. I use Camera RAW mainly, but sometimes use Lightroom.
Pick on the brightest image in the stitch and adjust the sliders to get the look you are after, including the white balance look. Put a grad on the sky and get the histogram looking how you want it on the one image.
Then select all of the images and go to the top left hand drop down box and click check all, the click sync settings.
The idea is what ever you do on one image, has to carry on through all of the images.
Go back through the lower images and delete the sky grad if you put one on. Its best to do this on each image.
When all the above is done, save as a full size TIFF to your desktop.
Then you need to go on line and buy PT GUI, which is an excellent stitching program.
Open the software, select the images from your desktop you want to stitch and push the button align images.
I use Mercator mode mainly in the stitching mode.
The program defaults to a small image size. Click on the image size drop box and select maximum size and to be exported as a TIFF file. This will give you your full res image.
Then select create and name your st and push the button.
Note: Holding the command key down on a Mac and clicking on either end of the image will allow you to adjust the horizon.
Clicking and holding the cursor down in the centre of the image will allow you to bend the horizon should you need to.
When you have the image stitched, pull it into photo shop and do the following:
Command A to select all.
Command T to free Transform. Right click and select warp and then drag the corners out to get rid of the bending that will be evident at the edge of the image. You can also click on other areas of the image to fix horizon issues etc that may come about. I love the warp function in the Free Transform!
You will then have an image will be pretty close to being a keeper. From there what ever you would normally do in regards sharpening or photo shop effects is up to you and your skills set.