Photo Stitching

Shooting panoramics (normally 1:3 ratios or wider) requires a photographer
to use a panoramic camera or, alternately, to stitch several shots together
into a blended photograph.

Hasselblad’s X-Pan series of film cameras is a favorite among 35mm
photographers, and cameras from Noblex and Fuji are also justly famous for the results that can be produced on both 35mm and 120-sized films. Any of these images can be scanned into the Digital Age for printing and Web uses.

If you’ve converted your picture-making to digital, however, and you desire to
make pans, stitching is probably the best method to do this. (Not the only way: Seitz has introduced a 617-sized digital camera that’s amazing…and large…but this has to be considered a specialty item.)

Earlier this week I downloaded a trial copy of PTgui (for Panorama Tools Graphical User Interface), a full-featured photo stitching application available from New House Internet Services B.V., Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I wanted to see how the program would render sets of photos taken in the Painted Hills (part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in central Oregon). I’d wrestled a bit with the photos using Photomerge in Photoshop, but wasn’t satisfied with my efforts (nor the time involved).

PTgui allows the photographer to set control points on photos for optimum blending, among its featured adjustments, but I decided to run my sequence in Auto. Call me lazy, call me crazy, but…as I watched the dialog box I saw warping image…and then color correcting image…and there it was, in less than five minutes, a finished (except for minor spotting) panoramic.

Well, I thought, that was too easy. There’s got to be a hitch here somewhere.
So I drove to a small shopping center and shot seven photos across the parking lot, in portrait mode…lots of horizontal and vertical stumbling blocks for PTgui…or so I thought. Back at the desk in Auto again, and not an imperfection anywhere. I searched at 200% but couldn’t find a single hint that the program had missed anything…and this was with a series of handheld shots. When I’m in the field I’ll use a tripod and Really Right Stuff PCL-1 panning base on the ball head.

I paid for the full version of PTgui yesterday. I consider it a smart investment because it makes what I want to do simpler, and in the end it’s all about the photograph.


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