Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Panos The Wrong Way

I can’t imagine a whole lot more being wrong with the way a panorama can be made than what went into today’s image.  It started in the camera and continued from there.  Every issue was my fault, some by commission and others by omission.  The final image came out alright, but it was a lot more work than it had to be.  We live, we learn.  The original sequence of shots was taken a couple cameras ago.  Which is another way to say I wasn’t doing photography at the level I’m at today.  I still have a lot to learn, buut I have learned a couple things since the shots for this pano’s time.  I listen to my confessions about the errors in today’s image, hit the “read more”.
First was the way the shots were taken. The acceptable method of shooting panoramas when you’ll be stitching together several images is to shoot vertically. This gives you the opportunity to have greater height to the final image. It also means you have to take more shots to get the same width, but since digital film (memory) is free, who cares. So, instead of a half dozen shots, this might have been ten or eleven clicks of the shutter.

The second error was after having Adobe Photoshop CS5 do it magic of stitching and blending the shots to make the starting point of the pano. Because the shots were taken hand held there was a little bounce to the alignment of the shots. (Not bad, but still there.) Because of the length to height ratio of the image, cropping would have just exacerbated the condition. CS5’s Content Aware Fill can be used for more than eliminating unwanted “things” in the middle of an image. It can also be used to fill in the edges of some images after some Free Transform (CTRL T) modifications or to add the fringe of mis-aligned panos. Using the Magic Wand Tool (W) with the Contiguous box checked, each edge of the pano was selected. Using the Fill (Shift F5) function and selecting the Content Aware Fill option the edges were filled and blended. But! I forgot one step that has (typically) become part of the workflow when doing that type of fill. I should have gone to Select/Modify/Expand and made the selected white section grow about twenty pixels. That would give the CAF somewhere to “bite” into. As it was I was left with a set of dashed lines all around the image. I had to waste time using the Healing Brush (J) with CAF clicked on. It was time consuming and unnecessary if I had only not forgotten that one step.

The third Time sink was on the Magenta Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Some areas brightened up a little with the Saturation set to 100%. At first glance it appeared only a couple strong contrast areas needed to have the adjustment taken away by using a Black Brush on the attached Layer mask. It wound up being every mast on every boat and every windshield on every boat. Again, too much time playing with something that should have been pretty automatic.