Monday, December 6, 2010

Not All Panoramas Are HorizontalPanos Today's image

The word panorama brings to mind shots of wide expanses and grand landscapes.  That’s not necessarily the only way to think.  Panos can go left/right, up/down and any combination of the two.  Check out the World’s largest circular panorama.  According to the site it took three days just to do the shooting.  It’s 80 GP and the detail is spectacular.  You can drill down to individuals on the streets and in the gondolas of the London Eye.  The folks behind the project took more than ten thousand shots and used a wee bit more than a PC to do the stitching.  In their thank you section they give a nod to Fujitsu for providing the hardware.  They used dual six core CPUs, 192 GB of RAM and 4 GB Graphics card.  That’s not a Super Computer, not even as big as those used to play chess against some of the Grand Masters of Chess.  It’s a work station that you might find in any number of shops along Madison Avenue.  They did put in a disclaimer and said using that setup “allowed this record breaking photo to be created a few weeks faster than would have been possible on any other available PC.”   The underlining is my addition to the quote.  They bring up two questions.  If they had access to a Super Computer like the top ranked Tianhe-1A located at the Notional Supercomputing Center in Tianjin, China they probably would have finished the pano over a coffee break.  While the Fujitsu machine used to make the pano probably doesn’t hit a GFlop (1 Billion Floating Point Operations per Second [that’s doing the mathematics for graphics]), the Tianhe-1A runs at 2,566,000 GFLops.  That’s quick.  Neither system would be available to the casual home user, but doing a four shot pano like today’s image will tax the typical (fast) home computer.  By tax I mean it will take a moment to assemble a four shot panorama.  To find out more about today’s panorama, hit the “read more”.

Today’s image is a redo of an oldie but goodie. It’s also a vast improvement over the original. The four shots were taken on a cruise in 2001. I believe it was a Royal Caribbean ship. A comparison of the old pano and the 2010 version shows how far Adobe Photoshop has come in the past decade. The old version was uneven in the blend of the shots. It had (small) visible seams and you can count the four separate shots used to make up the image. Today’s version is flawless in its blending and stitching.
Another difference is that the original version is narrower than it modern counterpart. In 2001 there was no choice but to crop off any white areas left from the stitching. Today’s image had to right side filled in using Adobe Photoshop CS5’s Content Aware Fill (CAF) algorithm. Things that have been created by the CAF include the far right light on the ceiling, the railing of the staircase in the lower right corner, the floor of the landing slightly above the halfway point and anything else along the right side. Did it come in perfect? No! The stairs got a little choppy, so a Copy and Paste of some of the lower stairs had to be done. The “patch” didn’t fit properly until a little Free Transform (CTRL T) was applied. Other than that, what you see is what CAF did to the image.

Normal finishing and vignetting were applied and the image declared complete.