There is nothing special about shooting panoramic photos. It’s easy – Ok, it’s not that easy. You have to practice. The more you practice, the better you get. The better you get, the more tricks you learn, which allows you to do it even faster, and better.
I don’t normally shoot these giant images like the London or Prague gigapixels. Usually I shoot “normal resolution” spherical panoramas, using a digital SLR camera and a fisheye lens. You can see my panoramas here.
When I started shooting panoramas seriously, 6 years ago, it was much harder to create a spherical panorama that it is now. It required some ugly editing of command-line scripts and stuff like that! Now it’s much easier, because the software for the creation of panoramic photos has come such a long way in the past few years.
My favorite tutorials for shooting spherical panoramas are John Houghton’s tutorials. Mr. Houghton is a photographer from England, and he has been one of the most helpful people out there on various forums and mailing lists. He is truly a great resource of knowledge, and incredibly friendly with this tips. If you really want to learn how to make panoramic photos, read his tutorials.
For software, there are a lot of different programs out there. The one that I have used the most is PTGui. I love it! I’ve used it to make literally thousands of panoramas (both normal ones, and gigapixel panoramas). I used PTGui to create the Prague Gigapixel last year.
The software I used to create the London Gigapixel is Autopano Giga (they also make Autopano Pro which is for normal panoramas). Autopano Giga is especially for creating very large panoramas. It is a fantastic program. It is really fast. Depending on how you shoot, you will need to fine tune the stitching and optimization of your panorama. For this, PTGui and Autopano Giga work in quite different ways and it is up to your preference which one works better for you. The makers of PTGui and Autopano Pro are really smart and helpful guys. Whichever program you choose, you can post your questions and problems to their support forums, and you’ll get a quick answer, either from fellow users of the programs, or the authors themselves. Here is the PTGui support group and here is the Autopano forum.
If you want to learn panoramic photography, you should be happy that it is not 2005 anymore – these days, it is much easier, and it is principally because of the creators of the above two programs. Use them — one or the other, or both, like me! You can’t go wrong.