New Personal Work

by William Lulow

Lately, I have embarked on the journey of making panoramic images. These images are made from several exposures and then stitched together with Adobe Photoshop. As is the case with most photographs you intend to work on or manipulate, the originals must be shot in a way that leads to compatibility for the stitching process. Computer programs are only as good as the original images. If originals are lacking, the program will not be able to do its job effectively. A couple of points are important to cover for making panoramas:

  • Original images must overlap so that the program has source points to use.
  • Original images must be shot on the same plane. (This means that the camera must be kept level and only moved horizontally).
  • Original images must all be shot in the same focus.
  • Stitched images must often be cropped and retouched because they will, by definition, be much longer than they are wide.

Here is an example of what the program does to original images:

BlueRidgeMountainsWEB

This picture was composed of two separate images which overlapped in the middle. The camera was placed on a tripod and swung on the same, level axis from left to right. Photoshop creates a stitch file which is a proprietary format (PDD). The image can then be cropped and saved as a JPEG file, which can then be retouched where necessary. Notice the areas of white. If your final cropped format contains any blank spaces, you must fill them in by carefully cloning the existing image parts and inserting them into the proper places. This can often be a painstaking process, because, as in all photo-retouching, layers must be built up slowly to create seamless content.  Here’s what the final cropped version looks like:

BlueRidgeMountainsPanorama(14x11)

The bottom part of the fence toward the middle of the photograph as well as part of the sky, had to be cloned into the final version.

Here are some additional panoramas I’ve done lately. The orginal stitch files are first, then the retouched ones. Some panoramas obviously need more work than others. I have included both versions here so that you can see what was retouched in each:

BlueRidgeGroceryWEB

BlueRidgeGroceryPanorama(WEB)

VMFAChihuly(WEB)

VMFAChihulyPanoramaWEB

You have to be careful with your use of the Clone Stamp in Photoshop. You need first to sample the area you wish to clone and start with a small space, enlarging it slowly as you are able to get the right textures. I begin by creating a duplicate layer and then add specific layers if needed. The final is then compressed when saved as a JPEG file.