How did he do that? (by Jim)

Many of you have by now seen my lobster bake photo in the Mary Day 2010 calendar. Pretty wild, huh?

And I’ve gotten a couple of “HOW did you do that?” questions. So I might as well answer all at once.

I wish I could tell you it’s my idea, completely original, etc. Not so much. I found this technique on the internet. Here’s a good roundup of how it’s done:

Fairly simple:

1. Make a panoramic series.
In this case, I stood on a rock with a good 360-degree view, with the schooner, the lobster bake and the beginning of sunset. I then took about a dozen pictures, turning a few degrees each time and making sure I overlapped enough. (I hesitate to publicly name a private island but I’ll tell you it’s near Bucks Harbor. If you know the area, you can likely figure it out.)

2. Turn the series into a panorama
I use Photoshop’s “autostitch” function to automatically (if slowly) create the panorama. All I have to do afterwards is a bit of cropping and cleanup.

3. Turn image 180 degrees
This ensures that the ground will be at the center and the sky will be at the edges. You can do it the opposite by not turning the image before doing the next step.

4. Apply the Filter
In Photoshop: Filter: Distort: Polar Coordinates.

And Bob’s your uncle.

Obviously, this requires a little planning and it won’t work for every picture. But it’s a nice tool to have ready for when it fits.

Jim Dugan


  1. Jim – I love the photo. I've done several panoramas but never thought to do a whole 360 (then again there is usually something not so scenic behind me). Great job and something I'll have to try. Did you use a tripod? I find it a bit difficult to keep the camera in the same plane while taking the consecutive pictures hand-held. I try to keep the horizon centered but that only works when the horizon is visible.

  2. Hi Ed,
    I usually do not use a tripod, but I use a wide-angle lens, which gives me considerable room for error. There are panoramic tripod heads with "click stops" to give you just the right overlap. I haven't felt the need.

  3. Jim –

    I find my tripod too bulky to lug around everywhere unless I'm out to create that extra special photo, which I don't often do. A wide angle lens is next on my wish list. Thanks.

  4. I have a panoramic mode in my Nikon Coolpix L100 that I bought last summer, at some point I will manage to master it, I suppose, but I would not have thought to use Photoshop to create such a very stunning result.

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