I use PTGui Pro for panorama stitching. The support in Photoshop for panorama merging is really bad. It is a little tricky to use PTGui until you realize the work flow and what’s needed in each case. Take your time and start playing with this tool. It is a very good program and can be used for many thing besides standard panoramas, for example this circular panorama from a local playground with my daughter riding on the carousel.

Carousel panorama image

Multiple pictures were used to create this carousel image using PTGui Pro

Depending on how badly aligned your source images are, PTGui might need some help to do a good job. A few smartly selected reference points can do magic. Apply the reference points before trying to align the images. For normal panorama images the default setting works very well, but in some cases when assembling a panorama including very close objects any small misalignment ruins the final result. In those cases try to enable viewpoint compensation for each misaligned source image. This can be done in the hidden optimizer menu: go to the advanced setting (Project Assistant, upper right corner) then select Optimizer, click Advanced again and enable viewpoint optimization for each image that you think needs to be tilted.

In most cases the need for post processing is very small. The automatic alignment is very good but usually there are moving people in the scene, cars driving by and other local difficulties that have to be fixed. This is fixed in Photoshop, export the panorama with all layers separated (blended and layers) to one single .psb file (Photoshop large). The example below needed a lot of Photoshop adjustments because the water moved between each image and it was shot on free hand.

Full scene stereographic image created with PTGui Pro

True 360×360 panos require at least one image to be shot vertically down. Often this image is the most difficult to get right because all other images can be shot with the tripod and perfect alignment. I shot this image on free hand and in night scenes with very high ISO (which means much higher noise level). To limit the use of this noisy image in the final panorama it is a very good idea to lower the blend priority for this image (the nadir shot). Blend priority can be adjusted in the advanced settings menu under image parameters, change blend priority from 100 down to 10-20 for the relevant images.

It is also very common that dirt on the image sensor repeats itself all over the place after stitching a panorama. The human eye is very sensitive to this type of effect and repeating patterns have to be fixed. When finalizing the carousel image on the top, lens vignetting (light fall off in corners) in the sky needed additional work. Each image had to be compensated before the import into PTGui.