Saturday, July 26, 2008

Photoshop's Photomerge

Stitching panoramas and multi-image composites has never been easier. The Photomerge feature in Photoshop CS3 has made this a piece of cake. In fact, the days of carefully leveling the camera, nodal points, and extensive stitching are over, at least for me. Of course, this news is not new as this feature has been well covered since the release.

What I have been having fun with is moving beyond traditional panoramas that are wide and narrow and instead creating panoramic collages. This image is Broken Arch in Arches NP, Utah. It is shot at sunrise and was taken during one of my workshops there.

The image not only goes left and right as far as individual frames, but also includes looking up and down across the field of view. Read on to see the PS layers.

When I am shooting this I am not shooting a leveled camera so that I have in essence, 3 across the top row, 3 across the middle row, and 3 across the bottom row. You certainly can shoot that way and you end up with roughly a square image. Instead, I am basically just shooting (in many cases, hand held) to make sure I am overlapping each frame. I try to overlap about 20% between each image capture generally. But with this hand held technique it is tough to be super precise.

So I start at one of the pano and start snapping, then raising the camera up and cpature above that first capture, then drop down below the first camera position. Then I move to the middle area and shoot more, but here I may begin to skew the camera angle meaning I am purposely not keeping the camera levl and may actually rotate it slightly.

In this image was I started on the left and then captured more frames raising the camera and lowering it and rotating it some in others. It is distorted substantially because of the 17 mm lens I used really enlarged the foreground and right side of the frame.

I then open all these frames in Adobe Camera RAW and make a few adjustments and then hit Synchronize to apply it to all of them. Then I open the Photomerge tool to create the composite. The cool thing about Photomerge is that is will blend, align, and even change perspective to 'collage' these frames together. Once you hit OK the files are composited and PS creates masks that show and hide parts of the image. What has also worked pretty neat is that you never know what you will get as the process is pretty random in regards to what it shows and what it hides and especially the perspective and how the changes are unpredictable.

I do not know if I have any commercial clients that would ever want anything like this, but you just never know. I could play all day with these fun and experimental techniques, but I got a studio and business to run! Gotta get to work.

1 comment:

Live on the Fly said...

That's pretty dang amazing - the photos and the end result. When I first looked, I wondered how you arrived at the shape... I'll try that on some shots of the Three Sisters that I have.