Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shoot Wide – Very Wide – Pano Images

The article is about creating High-resolution panoramic images and therefore the link to the title. But first I need to go deep, very deep as I show an image taken from across the street at my neighbor’s house.

Shot at eye level (6’) but photo drama for effect

With the amount of snow we have received in the last week, combined with the amount already on the ground, I am starting to feel penned in. Getting a bit stir-crazy as it seems like this year’s winter will never end. The snow banks are getting, seriously, way too high and while normally in winter my photography is a bit constrained, this year I feel like I am chained to the house.

High-Res Panoramic Images
If you had ever had the opportunity to take large format images (4x5, 8x10) or even view them when printed very large, you will appreciate how you can almost walk into the image with its grand scale and subtle fine detail. My B&W ISO 25 - 4x5 negatives are scanned to produce an image about 12,000 x 9,600, which when printed a 240 dpi gives me a print that is 50x40 inches. When you stand in front of such a large and detailed image, it is almost like walking into the scene. You can spend a great deal of time walking around the scene with your eyes.

240 dpi is an acceptable print setting when the image has been sharpened for both printer and paper settings. Larger prints tend to be viewed further back, but with this setting people can still get as close as they like. With the software program available, it is easy to increase print size by a factor of 4. That’s huge!

My Nikon D70 (6.1mp) camera could only print (at same print res) an image that is 12.5x8.5 inches. The D200 will only give me 16x11 inches.

By using a tripod and taking overlapping images you can, with software, stitch them together to create beautiful and very large pano images. Stitching several rows can also create large format type images. There are a few basics about panos, such as camera level, constant camera settings for exposure, focus, scene stability, accurate overlap, no polarizer. The software can, within reason, take care of the film no-parallax point, but do try to get close. As always the camera settings need to be adjusted to the actual scene in front of you or creative vision.

My preferred software to stitch images together is A Autopano Pro , which cost about $150 US. (99 euros). It is hard to beat the power and functionality for that price.

All panos have been set to a width of 1200. Do click on any images below for the larger version.

The image below was created using Photoshop and layers to method only to show another approach. The rest was created using Autopano pro.

Original image 10,300 x2240 or printed at 43” x 9.5” (240dpi)

For the Photoshop method, I did embed each image as a smart layer. This permits me to fine-tune the exposure for each image using Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) to best match the other images and thereby getting a smooth transition in sky tones.

reduced to 75% of full resolution

This is one of my favourite panos below and as yet I haven’t worked it to make a print. I am just not sure where to crop the scene, if I even need to. I have visited this place so often that each element has a memory. The path, which is barely visible, at the very far right, coming through the trees and the lovely dark forms on the far left. This was taken near sunset and there is steam rising from the water, which is hard to see in this image. I know I will have to enhance this to make it more visible in the print.

Original image 11,000, 14000 or printed at 46” x 8”

Can you guess which part the below image is located. Hint: look at the log at the edge of water.

Full resolution, vibrancy added

The pano pro software uses the best stitching algorithm and will auto detect pano images in a folder and combine them to present its interpretation, also auto correct for colour and even remove ghost images (people moving) and now even HDR stitching.

For scenes with strong detail and good contrast such as buildings, a 1/3 overlap is sufficient. For a scene with fine detail such as these landscape shots, I recommend a ½ overlap.

This image was taken in early fall and I just loved the yellow colours in the field.

Original image 6,500x1,900 or printed at 27” x 8”

reduced to 50% of actual size

The high-resolution images are difficult to appreciate on a monitor, as it has nowhere near the resolution to fully view the detail and they are just begging to be printed and viewed.

Most images can be printed on 12 in. wide printer with roll-paper feed but it is more expensive to print than your normal print. If you can’t print it yourself, do find a good local printer who can handle these different formats. Some friends have had difficulty with the standard online prints trying to get the sizing right. They tend to default to standard formats.

There is even a manufacturer that makes an attachment for your DSLR to connect to the back of a 4x5 camera. With the aid of the sliding mechanical grid, you move the camera over the full glass plate in small increments, pano-stitch and voila! A 4x5 field camera image.

Solution for Hint above: The left edge of the image is almost center in the pano image.

Niels Henriksen

A photographer’s Adage

A very fine photographer asked me, "What did it feel like the first time you manipulated an image?", and I said "Do you mean the first time I shot black and white instead of color, do you mean the first time I burned the corner of a print down, do you mean the first time I 'spotted' a dust speck on my print, do you mean the first time I shot with a wide angle instead of a normal lens, I mean what are you referring to? Where does it stop?" - Dan Burkholder - From a Lenswork Digital Output workshop, 10/97.


Anita Jesse said...

I have been enjoying digging back through your archives and appreciating all the useful information you share so freely. Now,your beautiful panos have reactivated an "itch" I have had for some time to explore that technique.

Unknown said...

There is something special when you can look deep into an image. If you do get some made, let me know. There is a free open source software that works great, maybe a little more GMIP vs Photoshop for useablity. Hugin uses the same algorithm as autopano.


Anonymous said...

Pano's are great! I've taken a few of them, but I've never fully processed one and printed it. I've used the AutoStitch software while toying around with my images and it seems to do a very good job at stitching. One of these days I'll finish one off and print it out.

By the way... I miss the snow. Count your blessings, we don't get any of that stuff down here in San Diego. I'm actually heading up to North Idaho (practically Canada) this weekend and I'm totally excited to get back in the snow.

Unknown said...

While I may complain a little, I know if I didn't have snow around, I would travel just to play in it.

If you get a chance have one of your panos printed, They are larger but if just matted and hung. It is beautiful to walk into the image when viewing.

Unknown said...

Nice post on panoramics, funny enough I read it right after having uploaded some mountain panos on flickr... like this one of the Mont Blanc.


Related Posts with Thumbnails