Shooting Tips

1. Remove any moving objects away from the scene if you can.

A moving object may hamper the photo quality even though the software adjusts them to some degree during the process. This is common if you capture movements using bracketing method. The objects appear like a ghost or transparent double images in areas of the panoramic photos where two adjacent photos are overlapped.

Some photo stitching programs have a blend path that automatically blends frames together and removes ghosts. Also, you can manually erase it in Photoshop. However, the best way is to still be aware of the movement when you capture the scene.

Remove any moving objects away from the scene if you can to obtain better quality 360º photos for a 3D virtual tour.

2. Don’t get too close to objects.

If you have an object located too close to the camera, distortion may occur in the panoramic photo. Also, if objects such as walls are too close to the camera, the photos can’t obtain sufficient overlaps which can trigger an error during stitching.

A common mistake, especially in real estate when trying to take photos to make the room appear bigger, is to take photos from a corner.

A common mistake especially in real estate when trying to take photos to make the room appear bigger is to take photos from a corner. If you take photos too close to walls it has a high chance to have an error stitching error.

3. Avoid grounds with cross or striped pattern.

When selecting a shooting site, avoid grounds with cross or striped pattern. It can lower photo quality since it is difficult to have these lines meet when the photos are later stitched. The best areas are lawn or grounds with no visual and physical obstruction.

4. Avoid the sun when taking photos.

If you take photos outdoor, consider the shadow and shoot it within the shadow so that traces of the shooter doesn’t appear in the photo. Normally, a wide-angle lens which can capture a wider range of a scene is used for panoramic photos, so there’s a higher chance of containing a shooter’s shadow.

5. If it’s sunny, shoot at AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) mode.

Especially on a sunny day, even if you’ve adjusted the correct median exposure following the instructions above, the photo may still appear too dark or too bright. When you adjust the exposure of dark areas, details on dark areas disappear and vice versa. In this case, the best possible way is to shoot at AEB: Auto Exposure Bracketing mode and stitch the photos with HDR. Note that HDR process is only available on PTGui Pro version.

6. Save your photos in RAW format.

Even though the size of the RAW file is bigger than JPEG, you can achieve better quality because it doesn’t compress the image which inevitably lowers the quality. The RAW format is less universally readable compared to JPEG format but it’s more useful when you import photos to other photo editing programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom. In these programs, you can export from RAW to DNG to keep the image quality high.

7. Keep the same exposure for all photos.

If you set the exposure to automatic, each photo may have different levels of exposure which can lower the quality of the panoramic photo.

The best way is manually setting the camera. DSLR cameras usually have ‘M’ mode which allows users to set the aperture or shutter speed. In this mode, adjust the exposure in the middle and set the aperture and shutter speed so not to overexpose or underexpose. If your camera doesn’t have the manual mode, use the AE-lock function which fixes the shutter and aperture. A narrow aperture(F8~11) is recommended to achieve a deeper DoF which consequently brings clear photos with wide focus.

When taking 360º photos for a 3D virtual tour, try to keep the same exposure for all photos. You can adjust the brightness of the photo in other post photo editing program. Set your camera to manual mode and adjust the exposure in the middle.

8. Save the photo in PSD format in PTGui to erase or edit it in Photoshop.

There are various stitching programs available for use. I’ll show you how to process 360º panoramas with PTGui program. This program is very convenient since it can process most photos automatically.

Sometimes, you have a moving object like a car or a person while shooting. So you may have half of the photos with this object while the rest don’t. In this case, you can remove the unwanted object from Photoshop. In order to do this, you should save the final version as a Photoshop file. On the Create Panorama tab, activate Photoshop (.psd) and Blended and Layers options then save it.


Dr. Heo started the blog( in 2007 and wrote various posts regarding 360º panoramic photos, geocaching, drones, and geospatial industry. He has expertise in geographic information system and 3D city modeling, and he was named the best blogger of Tstory which is a major blog portal in South Korea, in 2010. Each week, he updates his blog with his tips on 360º photography and insight about GIS trends.