Here's how I created the vertical pier pile panorama recently added to the Piers and Jetties show off thread.
About 15 horizontal shots moving from the surface down to the sand.
Using Photoshop Elements 2.
I think I resized all the images down to something like 800x600 to make it all more manageable.
Opened the top shot then extended the canvas so it was big enough for the final pano. Image > Canvas size > Anchor the top of the canvas > enter new size.
Opened the second shot, copy then paste it onto the first shot. This opens the second shot on its own layer which can be moved, enhanced and the edge partially erased, using eraser set to 50% opacity, to blend it in to the previous image.
And just kept on going for all images.
You can then go back and adjust levels for each image on it's own layer if required.