November 2010 - Digital Group Meeting - Panoramas

Meeting Notes March 2009 to 2018.
Post Reply
Posts: 141
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:04 pm

November 2010 - Digital Group Meeting - Panoramas

Post by spb » Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:45 pm

The beginners subject tonight was Pixels and Resolution and revealed that 4 megapixels is enough to produce a sizeable print of high quality at 180 dpi which is the native resolution of Epson printers.


Available now, the latest version of this highly recommended software now includes Layer Masks and Content-Aware fill, both of which are worthy additions, previously only available in Photoshop CS. Apart from a re-vamp of the Organizer (now replacing Bridge for Mac users) there are few other compelling additions unless you need Raw and your camera is not supported by your current version.

If you have Elements 8, I would not rush to buy 9, but if you have an earlier version then it is well-worth £60 (Amazon).


When taking a series of pictures for a panorama, bear in mind the following for best results;

- avoid wide-angle lenses
- put the camera on Manual exposure mode, with an average setting for the lighting conditions
- overlap the images by a quarter to a third of the frame
- keep the camera back vertical - ideally on a tripod
- watch the clouds and ensure that the lighting stays consistent throughout
- consider turning the camera through 90 degrees to use the longest side of the frame in the vertical dimension

however, you can ignore some, or all, of the above and the software may still produce a perfectly acceptable result. Experiment.

In Photoshop Elements choose File>New>Photomerge Panorama and select all component images (JPG or Raw). The Auto setting will produce excellent results in most cases and after a short processing delay, a composite panorama image will be displayed. This contains all of the original images in separate layers, adjusted as necessary and blended with quite complex layer masks all of which is subsequently editable in the normal way if required.

The panorama need not be limited to a single row of images. Multiple rows or a collage of random shots may also work but these reduce the chances of a fully automatic result.

In the event that the software cannot identify the correct sequence or the overlaps between the images, it may present you with an incomplete or erroneous panorama. In this case start again with the Interactive setting which enables you to drag and drop the images into approximate position, after which Photomerge will complete the process automatically. The Snap-To setting will help the manual alignment process.
Stokesay Fisheye Pano Low Res.jpg
Stokesay Fisheye Pano Low Res.jpg (70.81 KiB) Viewed 3505 times
With Photoshop CS, the same functionality is available from File>Automate>Photomerge and CS4 and CS5 include additional facilities to read the image data and remove specific distortions and aberrations for the particular lens used. Remarkably, this even enables extremely distorted fisheye images to be blended into realistic panoramas and this was demonstrated to the group. Even two rows of nine fisheye shots was successfully stitched although this was very distorted.


Having achieved a tidy rectangular panorama, this can be compressed horizontally into a square, turned upside down and converted via the Polar Coordinates filter into a quirky Photosphere, which have a dedicated following on the web.
Stokesay Photoshere Low Res.jpg
Stokesay Photoshere Low Res.jpg (54.92 KiB) Viewed 3503 times

I attended an RPS lecture by Brian Beaney recently at which he revealed the secrets behind his unique artistic style. Whilst this will be impossible to reproduce exactly, the fundamental steps are;

- isolate the foreground, mid-ground and background on separate layers
- blur the mid-ground slightly and the background more heavily
- duplicate the original image, blur it heavily and reduce the opacity to around 50%, create a layer mask and paint this layer back onto the image in selected areas to create a dappled painterly effect
- add two Curves Adjustment Layers - one set to Darker and the other to Lighter and use their layer masks to accentuate the detailed highlight and shadow areas (Levels adjustments would substitute if you don't have Curves)
- add rays of light using a soft brush and a light grey colour set to low opacity

In addition to these steps, a sense of hightened realism is achieved by much detailed work to individually colour every leaf and detail of the foreground.

Whilst we could not, and should not, attempt to copy his style exactly, it was a revelation to me that he spends days on each image working on the smallest details.


Brian Beaney's images and increasingly our own, rely on reversible masking using Adjustment Layers and Layer Masks. Unfortunately the latter have not been included with Photoshop Elements until the latest Ver 9. However, as I have mentioned before, an excellent free Layer Mask tool for earlier versions of Photoshop Elements is available from here .

White areas of the mask show the associated image layer or adjustment. Black areas of the mask reveal the layer(s) underneath. Grey areas are partially opaque.


Thursday 2nd December in the **Pottery Room** - same car park, but alongside Chiltern Avenue.

Cheers, Steve Brabner.

Post Reply