Little Dude

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This little kitten is Dude, the one that I’d be watching for a weekend. Three weeks later, he’s starting to walk, figuring out how to get out of the oversized bed, and learning how to play by wrestling with his mother. I’m sure he’ll be getting into more trouble soon. As it is, he’s been living in the office and far as photography goes, it’s rather dark in there. The overhead light is weak and the daylight hardly creeps in the window from the claustrophobic space between buildings that someone might call an alley. To compensate, I’ve been adding a couple of lamps and turning up the ISO. The noise is tolerable in the resulting images, but I’d rather shoot with a 50mm f/1.8 or 1.4.



Planet Subaru Revisited


My last attempt at stitching the panorama of the inside of a Subaru Impreza resulted in something less than stellar – interesting, but if you look closely, you can see the stitching errors. I was stumped, especially given that the pan head was set so the photos were good, and according to the information I had at the time, I was using PTGui correctly. PTGui is the stitching program that I use. Everything seemed simple – import the images, align them to create the larger image, and that’s it. I’ve yet to get a single decent image with that method, so I turned to reading tutorials and wound up watching YouTube video tutorials. It turns out, everything comes down to the setup before you tell the program to do anything. Armed with a little more info, I set out to try again. First, I imported my images…


After telling the program that I used an 8mm fisheye lens, I set my desired result to a 360 degree by 180 degree panorama, then clicked into image parameters. It simplifies the process to tell the program where the photos go so that it can better find points in common – by entering in the angles at which I took the photos (0,60,120,180,240,300) as well as designating the up and down photos, I watched the photos move into position on the thumbnails…

Recently added to PTGui is the masking feature so that you don’t have to make separate alpha channels in Photoshop. I added masks to the photos to tell it to ignore certain areas of photos or to prioritize certain areas, and finally generated control points. Areas in red are ignored, areas in green are priority.


With a few minor tweaks and a quick cleanup in Photoshop, the image at the top of this post is the result. How does it compare to the first one? See a few of the closeups below…

Planet Subaru

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After my last panoramic learning experience, I decided to try something a little more complicated with a lot more time on my hands. I cleaned out my car, returned the seats to their upright positions, and set up the tripod inside the car. Given the bright sunlight and the dark interior, I decided to bracket my shots for HDR and started shooting with my 8mm fisheye on the pan-head. For each shot I had to change which seat I was in and make sure that nothing else moved. As it is, I wound up with pieces of my body in two of the shots because of the lack of space and the large field of view of the lens. Figuring out how to get the downward shot without the tripod in the way was a challenge, and involved wedging it up on the backseat.

With the photos done, I automated the merging of the sets of 7 photos into HDR and then mapped them out in HDR Efex Pro before dropping the resulting Tiffs into PTGui for a nightmare in stitching. The claustrophobic shooting style left me with numerous overlapping areas and panoramas don’t work too well with objects so close together. Any error in the process is hard to miss. Luckily, the new version of PTGui has selective masking, so I can hide parts of an image, and after much trial and error, I arrived at the above photo of the inside of my Subaru Impreza. In all it is comprised of 72 photos. There are still a few stitching/blending errors visible, but as a proof of concept (which this was) I think I can let them sit there until I have more time to fix them.

Stairwell D

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I walk up these stairs multiple times each week and finally took the time to shoot something. However, I made a number of mistakes that I didn’t realize until later. The first was that I didn’t level the tripod, which hurt me when I went to try to stitch all the images together. If you look closely you might be able to find some of the stitching errors that I haven’t worked out yet. The second mistake was that I tried to complete the shot without taking the downward photo. I attempted to use a different perspective and wound up having problems with the bottom of the brick wall. By projecting it differently, the stitching errors somewhat disappear, as seen in the below photo. As a learning experience it went well.

Unexpected

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On Saturday afternoon I was told to expect company for the remainder of the weekend, however I didn’t quite expect that it would be a three-hour-old kitten named Dude and his mother. Mama kitty was still tipsy from the drugs required for the Vet to perform an emergency C-section, and Dude was the lone survivor of the litter. They have since taken over my office. Dude is a tiny ball of orange fur and it’s hard to miss his high pitched cries. Mama is exhausted from the whole ordeal and for the first few days kept laying down on top of Dude. Only lately does she hug him in her arms. Despite the low lighting of the office, I pulled out the 90mm f/2.8, set a custom white balance, and lay down on the floor to get these photos.