"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. Concerning the universe, I do not yet have absolute certainty" (Albert Einstein)

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HowTo create panoramapictures

Creating panoramapictures is very easy !

 

Introduction

In this article you will read all about that. It describes the process quite extensively but by following this procedure you will experience that you Yes can do it without any problem. As soon as you have your pictures in your computer you will have your first panoramapicture within 3 minutes ! So give it a try and start your bicycle (open) for another day Not at the office 🙂.

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To create your own panoramapictures the first thing you need is your brain. It has to learn to recognize the optical opportunities that the situation you are in brings you. The good news is that that will happen fast as soon as you know how to create panoramapictures.

Seeing is doing.
Doing is seeing.

Furthermore you (only) need a (any) camera, an extra fresh battery and some kind of software to build that resulting picture. No more, no less. And a bicycle 👍.

There is a lot of (commercial related) nonsense drifting around about panoramapictures but you really don't need anything special. Except for the software, which also is not very special (in using it). Especially don't you need a tripod since that software will align the pictures for you. It is even simply impossible to "align" pictures per tripod.

Besides that, panoramapictures more ore less just "happen to you". You never know when and where you will see that one special subject that could bring you that panoramapicture. And probably 99 out of a 100 times you don't have a tripod with you. If you have own one anyway. A nice tripod for real travellers is the Cullmann Neomax 220 tripod (open).

So you don't need a tripod, nor bubble levels at or in your camera. You only need some Imagination ! However there are some simple tricks that will turn your effort into a (very wide) succes.

The software you will use will automatically correct for all possible deviations between pictures. It will compensate for differences in lighting and it has the option to have an automatic crop. Which means that it will calculate the biggest possible resulting netto picture.

Menu : Introduction Taking the pictures Filehandling part 1 Creating the panoramapicture Filehandling part 2 Resumee Tips

Taking the pictures

First set up the camera (simple, basically just determine the zoomrate). Make sure the camera shows the picture taken only for ie 1 second afterwards. Then the longer the inbetween-time the more likely you will loose your (vertical) position.

Then take your position and make some test-moves from left to right to judge wether you can capture the whole range without obstacles and (preferably) without having to move your feet. So make the whole turn by only turning your upperbody. Your personal limit in doing so might be about 180 ° 🙃. All that time keep looking through the viewfinder (preferably, or at the screen) to check for the real situation. If you do have to move your feet be sure to keep on looking through the viewfinder to keep your vertical position. It is mandatory to keep the vertical alignment intact and it is very difficult to return into the former position if you have to relocate your feet.

If you think the position is oké it is time for the first trick : hold one hand for the camera (with fingers up) and take the first picture. That "handy" picture will help you to find the series very fast once you are searching for them at your computer. Then this serie of pictures will not be the only pictures with which you will return home.

Then take the pictures in a fixed sequence, ie from left to right, assuring a certain overlap between each two of them. This is not at all critical and ie 10% or 20% is already sufficient (for the software). Just take care you have enough "spare" picture to the left of the most left picture and to the right of the most right picture. You need that extra spare pixels to make a proper crop later on.

Then oncemore hold one hand for the camera (with fingers down) after the last picture and take it. That one will help you to determine the end of the series.

However one thing is critical and that is to Keep the camera in the same vertical position as you turn to the left or right to take the next picture. This also is not very critical but the less vertical overlap there is between the pictures the less heigh the (netto) panoramapicture will be. The software will stitch them all !

The trick to help you with the alignment is to use any line(s) or symbol(s) at the camerascreen. You can use the lines that tell you about were the focus will be. Or maybe your camera does have a digital bubblelevel (open the pdf manual and use ctrl-F to search for that).

The 2 series of the basic panoramapictures I used for this article start here :

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You can download this set 1 (open) to use it to practice.

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You can download this set 2 (open) to use it to practice.

If you are in doubt concerning the height, return to the first position. Then turn the camera somewhat down or up and take a picture of your hand pointing horizontal. Then take the second series (row), and even a a third (higher or lower) series. You then end up with a large set of overlapping pictures that finally could end up being a panoramapicture. The software that will be discussed furtheron can handle ten's and ten's of pictures. So be sure you take enough of them !

That's all ! You may return home now (but you better 🙂 keep on cycling).

Tip : you can start practicing right away by downloading the sets of the above pictures.

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Filehandling part 1

At home you copy all the pictures to your pc in a directory that you call "Pictures YYYYMMDD Org" (original) and first (!) backup synchronize them to some other drive.

Then you copy that directory several times and delete all pictures in every directory that are no part of that particular series. So you first create a main dir like
Pictures YYYYMMDD Org, and then by copying and deleting you create the dir's (ie) :
Pictures YYYYMMDD Church outside ORG,
Pictures YYYYMMDD Church inside ORG,
Pictures YYYYMMDD Terrass plus river ORG,
Pictures YYYYMMDD Harbor view ORG, etc.

Then you copy all those dir's (then you should not process the original files !). And use any software you prefer to upgrade those (copied) pictures. Photoscape (open) and XNView (open) are worth testing. When done rename those new dir's with the extension NR (new ready) :
Pictures YYYYMMDD Church outside NR,
Pictures YYYYMMDD Church inside NR,
Pictures YYYYMMDD Terrass plus river NR,
Pictures YYYYMMDD Harbor view NR, etc.

Tip : these actions are not really neccessary. But sooner or later you will find yourself having lost certain pictures if you process the original ones. And/or if you don't create a certain logical system to store and refind them.

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Creating the panoramapicture

The best software to create panoramapictures is Microsoft Image Compose Editor. It (still) works great with Win10, can handle a very large amount of pictures, is very fast and creates correct panoramapictures 98 out of 100 times (!). It has a manual crop mode and a manual mode option and it is only 2.1 MB "Great". Besides that it is of the pre-a-social-media world. And last but not least : it is freeware.

You can download Microsoft Image Compose Editor (open) version 1 from 2011 here.

You can download Microsoft Image Compose Editor (open) version 2 from 2015 here.

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So open ICE, select all the pictures you want to use (but not those of your hands ...) and drag them into the ICE window.

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After just a few seconds the result shows up. An outline will be shown around the result to inform you about the deviations compared to a perfect stich. The bigger the difference between the bruto and netto result the stronger the wind (or the wine) was 🙂.

If however the panoramapicture is not very well leveled horizontally the single pictures used are out of level. Correct that in ie XNView (open) and try again, it takes so little time.

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Now hit the Automatic crop button. ICE will change the outline from the bruto to the netto picture. You can change this crop-proposal manually by moving those white markers. This is why you should have spare pixels at all four sides of the set. If you make the resulting crop smaller you can maybe also make it a bit heigher. However, select the maximum netto crop (or even the bruto crop) then cropping more precise is a better job for Photoscape (open) or XNView (open).

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Very seldom, maybe once every 100 pictures (!) the result is not right the first time. Chance is higher if you take a series of a high building, and even more high if that is from any side, so not frontal. That could turn up to be a very "curved" churchtower 🙂.

You then can choose any of the stitching modes yourself to see if that will improve the result. Always choose the mode that brings the best straight lines at the picture. Then you can easily tilt the whole picture afterwards, but not it's partly content.

And also very seldom ICE fails to create a correct panorama result. If so that always happens if you want it to stitch a series of pictures with very little (different) details. For instance if there is a very large portion of (only) grass or sand in a large number of the pictures. Which can easily happen if you cycle in the Netherlands or in the Sahara 🙂.

In that case just use half of the pictures (plus 1 extra) for a first result and save that. Then use the other half of the pictures (plus the last picture of the first half) for a second result and save that too. For instance first use pictures 1 to 5 and then use pictures 5 to 9. So make sure there is an overlap between those halfs. Then let ICE stitch those two halves into the final panorama.

You can use this same way of working to stitch several layers on top of each other to create an extra heigh result. However you have to crop each one of the inbetween results since no software can understand those gray zones in a bruto result.

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Filehandling part 2

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So save the result and use a well thought-of system to name it ! Like this one, in which every part of the name has it's own function.

Pano = panoramapicture (for file handling, ctrl-F, etc).
YYYYMMDD = the date it was taken (for file handling, ctrl-F, etc).
GEO = geological info were it was taken, so the location (ie Madrid, harbour, for file handling, ctrl-F, etc).
SUB = subject of the picture (ie my castle 🙂, for file handling, ctrl-F, etc)
SEQ = sequencenumber in this serie (01, 03, 05, etc, you might have more then 1 serie taken that day)
Q = quality (a means it is the main picture, b means the first smaller copie, c means the second smaller copie, etc. For website usage (data usage and loadingtime) and for reasons of copyright you must not publish the main picture ! ).
XXX HowTo create panoramapicture XXX So the filename of this panoramapicture is

"Panorama 20100401 AMC Neuville en Condroz 1a new 1000" for the small (downsized) one and

"Panorama 20100401 AMC Neuville en Condroz 1a new 8000" for the large one.

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And the filename of this panoramapicture is

"Pano 20181013 Barahona Jadraque 01a new 1000.jpg" for the small one and

"Pano 20181013 Barahona Jadraque 01a new 4000.jpg" for the large one.

In this case 1000 and 4000 resp 8000 (the width in pixels) is used instead of 01b and 01a. You ofcourse don't have to create a small version if you don't use the result on a website. But if you do, like here in this article, the smaller version will load fast and with little data usage.

It is now a matter of processing that picture(s) the way you are used to.

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You will have to tilt the single pictures until they are exactly horizontal (or vertical). And quite often you have to change the perspective (which you can do with Gimp). Which is once more depending on how strong the wind (or the wine) was 🙂.

Now you have created your first "homemade" panoramapicture(s) !

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Resumee

This article contains a lot of detailed information but in fact all it says is :
- Open your eyes
- Start your bicycle
- Take those pictures
- Drag them into ICE, hit stitch, hit crop, hit save and
- Ready !

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Enjoy your new hobby !

Tip 1 : never let your camera create panoramapictures. You could (also) do that but only if you are very sure the camera will not delete the original series after having created "something" ! Then you are not able to really judge a (any) picture at a camerascreen so you could then end up with nothing (except memories) ...

Tip 2 : We Shall Not Forget so here you can view the series about the American Memorial Cemetry at Neuville en Condroz in Belgium (open).

Tip 3 : you can find a lot of panoramapictures at YesFotos.nl (open).