I’m always happy to run outings or learning sections by other accomplished photographers who wish to share their experiences with photography or traveling in the Asian theatre.  Tom Tweedel is a good friend with significant experience in China and has self-published several interesting volumes of his travels in China complete with many great images and informative narrative.  A few months ago he visited Thailand for the first time and I had a great time showing him around the area.  When Tom told me he’d like to share some of his work in this weekly I was both excited and grateful.  I hope you enjoy China through his lens as much as I have.  For those whose plans include extended travel in China I’d recommend contacting Tom and inquiring into obtaining copies of his books.  Tom Tweedel is an Austin, TX based photographer and can be reached at tomsds@austin.rr.com

Panoramas on the Go Part II

Putting it All Together

After shooting the pano you’re ready for the next step which is stitching it all together. If you do any processing of the files make sure that the adjustments to exposure, white balance, contrast etc is uniform across all the images. If you want to do any spot processing you should do that on the finished file after stitching rather than the source files. It’s difficult to predict what is going to happen in the stitching.

To stitch the files you will need some type of stitching software. There are a number of products out there (including functionality built into later versions of Photoshop). I use software called PTGUI. It’s got a decent interface and gives you all the control you want if you choose to get serious about your adjustments. It has both Mac and PC versions.

Most modern stitching software is very easy to use. If you did your shooting well most of the time you just import the files, hit go and it stitches them together without any further effort required.

Most modern stitching software is very easy to use. If you did your shooting well most of the time you just import the files, hit go and it stitches them together without any further effort required.

A screen shot of the main screen of PTGUI, its often as simple as 1-2-3.

If you have some more difficult shots (lots of identical patterns, misalignment or a low detail overhead shot) you may need to match things up manually. This usually takes the form of adding control points and telling the software what two points on the pictures match up.

If you have some more difficult shots (lots of identical patterns, misalignment or a low detail overhead shot) you may need to match things up manually. This usually takes the form of adding control points and telling the software what two points on the pictures match up

The overhead shot didn’t line up automatically so I had to look for common objects in both pictures. I used items like this lamp post to establish control points for proper alignment.

Once you got everything lined up your might have to make some choices about what kind of blending to do. Generally it’s a choice about speed vs. quality in the rendering process.  After that you need to decide the resolution of the output file. This depends on how much detail you want. More detail = Larger files = Longer rendering time.

Once you got everything lined up your might have to make some choices about what kind of blending to do. Generally it’s a choice about speed vs. quality in the rendering process.  After that you need to decide the resolution of the output file. This depends on how much detail you want. More detail = Larger files = Longer rendering time.

Standard settings I use for web quality VR Movies.

If you’re doing it for print you can calculate how much resolution you need based on your desired print size (average of 225 pixels per inch of printout is a safe rule).

I get my panos printed at EZPrints but there are plenty of other services out there.

Turning it into a VR Movie

After the file is built you will need software to take that image and wrap and warp and turn it into a VR file. The nice thing about PTGUI is it actually has that functionality built in if you used the advanced options. You can create QuickTime VR movies with no further software to buy or learn.

While QuickTime pioneered the VR process you can also use Adobe Flash as your engine. A lot more people have Flash installed than QuickTime. For my VR file creation I used software called Pano2VR with the flash pack. It’s fast and flexible and like PTGUI it has cross platform (Mac/PC) support. If you use the flash format it lets you add a few bells and whistles like autorotation and navigation bars.

When I created these flash movies

You’ll need to figure out what settings work best for your uses but I usually use these to produce good web sized files.

You’ll need to figure out what settings work best for your uses but I usually use these to produce good web sized files.

The initial screen is more of a summary and the upper left lets you select a QuickTime or Flash output.

panoramics

By modifying the viewing parameters you can select where the pano starts and any constraints on its field of view. I use a bottom limit of -65 degrees to avoid the black hole in the base.

panoramics

The real magic is after you click the add button. This is where you select the resolution and other special effects of your output.

After you’ve got all your settings you create and enjoy the file. After you do it a few times it becomes very easy and enjoyable.

Pano4Suphan360

If your interested in learning more about all things panoramic check out http://www.panoramas.dk/. They have a lot of information regarding panoramas as well as many examples and tutorials.

Happy Shooting!