It's the holiday season, the year is winding down, jobs are getting a little scarce, so it must be time to play. To go for the artsy stuff, something that might end up on a greeting card or some other form that can be done on spec. It might even bring in a buck or two and that would be gravy. Doing work aimed at the greeting card industry is kind of a seasonal crapshoot. Too early and it won't be looked at. Too late, same thing. Too cute (they can hardly ever be too cute) and it won't be picked up because it's been done to death. Too serious is probably worse than too cute. Cards that say 'sorry you died' walk a very fine line. Note cards, with photographs on the cover, have to convey what's written on the inside without giving away the sentiment. Today's image would fall under the heading of whimsical. It started life as a photograph. Actually, a five shot panorama, and ended up having something to do with a lake house. It could be an invitation, a "new house" announcement, a cheery note signaling the start of the new season for the lake community, or other lighthearted information. It probably wouldn't be the best card to say the house burned down or the EPA just shutdown swimming privileges because they found out someone did nuclear testing on the shore back in the forties. You get the idea. You have to set the right tone for the target audience. I'll leave it up to you to figure out what you might use a card with today's image on the front. What we'll do is discuss how the image was made. To find out what alchemy was conjured to produce today's image, hit the "Read More".
There are two ways to make an image similar to today's. Outside in and inside out. It all depends on if you flip the original panorama or not. If you leave the pano right side up, using Adobe Photoshop CS5's (and earlier version's) Polar Coordinates Filter (Filter/Distort/Polar Coordinates) set to Rectangular To Polar, you'll get a view as if you're in a hole looking up at the scene. To you flip the pano vertically (Image/Image Rotation/Flip Canvas Vertical) and then apply the same Polar Coordinates Filter you'll wind up with a view as though you're on a high point seeing a 360 degree scan looking straight down. Sort of like seeing a shot of a full moon with lots of detail on the edge.
When a panorama is used to make this type of polar projection image the scene will start out as a rectangle. The Canvas should be expanded (Image/Canvas Size) it create a square format. The scene can then be brought into a circular form using Free Transform (Edit/Free Transform) and pulling the center handles up and down.
What you end with in either case is some sort of circle and from the outer edge of the circle to the square edges of the "paper" you'll have what looks like zoom lines. It's a pretty (if you ask me) unfinished look. In order to give the appearance of sky in today's image the "zoomy" lines were masked out. A Layer Mask was added and the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) used with the Shift Key held down (to constrain the shape to a circle) to define the edge of the circle. The Layer Mask was then filled with Black, hiding the zoom lines.
A blank Layer was added under the Masked Layer (Ctrl - Add New Layer icon). The Eyedropper Tool (I) (eye) was then used to sample the color of the sky. This set the Foreground Color to the same color as the sky in the image. The Background Color was then set to another shade of blue several shades darker than the foreground. Using the Gradient Tool (G) set to Radial Gradient the blank Layer was filled using an inside to outside stroke holding down the mouse button. A couple attempts were needed to correctly position the inner blue shade.
Typical color enhancement to the "ground Layer" was done using individual (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Magenta) Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers.