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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week we'll be talking about the Photomerge function inside of Photoshop, which allows you to stitch together multiple images in order to create a panorama; however, it's less about Photomerge because the command isn't that terribly difficult to use, and it's more about how you capture the shots in the first place so they stitch together seamlessly. So we'll start with these images here. This is 4 of 10 that I shot an all that I captured from Ponte Dell'Accademia in Venice, Italy.
And then we're going to go ahead and stitched those images together into this big seamless panorama. The only seam that you see is in the center there; that's because I had to tape two printouts together. But the great thing about having an image like this printed out and ready to go is that if you're feeling nostalgic for your vacation, you can go ahead and walk into the office with this just kind of like wrapped around your head. Now, you'll still have to talk to your co-workers. That's a drag. But they'll say things behind your back possibly like you know, "It's curious that Mel has had that big piece of paper wrapped around his head all week, but he not nearly so grouchy." Here, let me show you exactly how it works.
In this movie, I'm going to show you how to achieve seamless panoramas using Photoshop's Photomerge function. Now, many of you may feel like you know how to use Photomerge. It's not a particularly demanding feature from a user perspective. However, I do want to pass along some tips and tricks for capturing those component photographs so that you achieve absolutely the best results possible. Now, I'm starting things off with this sort of pseudo-panorama of four independent shots which I captured, by the way, from Ponte Dell'Accademia, looking down The Grand Canal in Venice, and out here in the distance is Santa Maria Della Salute, for what it's worth.
Now, the reason I'm showing these four shots is I've noticed lately inside of magazines and newspapers that there is this trend to avoid photo stitching, so that somehow there's a higher degree of integrity associated with showing each one of the photographs independently. And while I'm a huge proponent of integrity and following rules inside the realm of photojournalism, I just don't buy this one, because after all, every single one of these images was captured by a machine, not by some kind of magic eye, so we're still using technology in order to capture the environment.
When we shift things into Photoshop and we go ahead and stitch the scene together using Photomerge, we're just taking advantage of another step, another technological innovation in order to capture the scene as we really experienced it, so let me explain how that works. Basically what we're looking at is a 10- shot image here, so a 10-shot panorama. And there's a couple of things that you need to do. First of all, I'm standing at the apex of the bridge. There is no one around me, so nobody is going to bump into me, that kind of thing. I'm not using a tripod--that's not really necessary--and I'm not locking down my settings either.
You can do that if you want to; I didn't. However, what's very important is your positioning. You cannot move your feet. You want to be pointing straight ahead and you want to leave your feet locked into place. Everything that you're doing is going to be pivoting your shoulders. Because if you start stepping around, if you move one foot, then you're going to change your frame of reference and your perspective is going to get messed up. And so, for example, these windows here could shift behind this building and that would blow everything. Meanwhile we've got movement in this scene. This vaporetto is moving forward.
There's nothing we can do about that. You don't have to shoot quickly. You don't want to shoot quickly. You don't want to rush it. You want to get a right. You definitely don't want to somehow like bracket the shot and then twist your body furiously from one side to the other during the bracketing. That's not going to work either. So don't worry too much about the movement of slow objects, relatively slow objects in this scene, like vaporettos and boats and so forth. All right, so the other big tip that I have to pass along here is capture portrait shots.
Don't shoot wide, shoot tall, and that way you've got tons of information to work with. So it's better to shoot like 10 or a dozen tall shots than to shoot let's say three landscape shots. You 're going to get way better results this way. Otherwise, I'll just go ahead and run through these images. I'm pointing at about, I'd say 10 o'clock in the bridge right now, and then I'm just twisting my way to the right. You can move either left to right as I am, or right to left; it doesn't matter. Make sure that you have at least the third overlap. I tend to go for more, so notice I have about half shot overlap as I'm moving through these images.
Watch that vaporetto, see how it's coming ever closer to me. And the rear vaporetto's moving closer, this motorboat is moving away from me as well, and I just continue shooting. Now two things are very important here: One is you want to keep your shot straight up and down as possible, so try to make sure your shots are plum. And the other thing is you want to move to the best of your ability, you want to move exactly horizontally, that is just right along the horizon. So what I suggest is you figure out your framing at the end of your shot, so start at the end--in other words get your framing right here--and then move back to that first shot and start shooting here, because you want to make sure that your framing is accounting for the entire scene.
Anyway, those are the 10 shots I have to work with. Now I'm going to press the Escape key in order to return to the Bridge, which is where I'm at right now. And I've got the first image selected. I'm going to scroll down and Shift+Click on that last image, so 10 images and all in this case. And now check out that vaporetto. Notice how much closer it is in this shot than this shot, because it's probably about a 5-10 second delay going on there. Again, that's okay. That's going to work out just fine. Go up to the Tools menu and then choose Photoshop if you're working in the Bridge as I am and then choose Photomerge. And what that's going to do is switch you over to Photoshop and bring up the big Photomerge dialog box, and it's going to show you the names of all of the images that you had selected inside of the bridge.
If you feel like you need to open more images, then you can go ahead and click on Browse and so forth. Now then, the next thing I suggest, unless you want to create a bowtie of an image, which I think is just rotten-- I don't think that's a way to approach the panorama experience at all-- I would select either Cylindrical or Spherical--and you can try both. You can try one and then try the other and see which one works out best. In one case, you're going to wrap the image, you can distort the image forward in the center, and then in the other case we're going to distort the image inward in the center. So choose your poison there.
You definitely want to blend the images together, so leave that first check box turned on. The other two you can typically leave turned off unless you have a problem with vignettes in your shots, shadows being castled by lens element, I would leave Vignette Removal turned off, and in our case we're shooting neither wide nor telephoto shots, so we don't really need geometric distortion correction. Click OK in order to go ahead and combine those shots together. Now what Photoshop is doing is it's running a combination of the Auto Alignment function along with Auto Blend. So at first it goes ahead and assembles all the images into a layered composition, and then it starts running the Auto Align function, which is looking for similar patterns of pixels, so it can marry the right side of one image to the left side of another.
And then--and this is where this function just gets magical--it goes ahead and blends all these layers together. So it's actually changing the colors of pixels, and then it turns around and automatically generates layer masks around each and every one of these layers in order to produce an effect like the one you're seeing here. If you run into problems at this point, you might think the thing to do is to go ahead and edit the layer masks. The problem with that approach is that Photoshop just goes ahead and color corrects the pixels that are enclosed inside that mask. So if you start changing the shape of the mask, you're going to expose wrong pixels inside the image, and they won't match at all.
So if you do have some problem once use stitch things together, if you find that something doesn't align properly, you are going to have to back to one of the original images and try to heal from it or clone it into place or something along those lines. In our case, everything actually looks great. Now what I normally do at this point is I go ahead and save the layered version of the composition. It's quite large, as you can see down here. Even though I started off with quarter- resolution versions of the shot, this combined image still measures about 150 MB when all the layers are included.
So I want to save that information, but I don't really want to work with that information because it doesn't to me that much good. So I'll go up to the File menu and choose the Save As command, and I'll go ahead and name this image something like View from Ponte Accademia. It'll work out nicely, .psd. Go ahead and save all those layers of course. Then click on the Save button in order to protect what you've done so far. Now go up to the Layer menu and choose Flatten Image in order to merge all those layers and get rid of the layer masks.
All right, now you will undoubtedly need to crop your image to some extent. Notice that despite the fact I was telling you how important it is to make sure your images are plum and that you're following the horizon line, my horizon is dropping from the left to the right. So I'm going to go ahead and grab my Crop tool here and enclose my image like so, and I'm going to drag this top edge down--or maybe I'll try to align one of these rule of thirds guidelines-- and go ahead and rotate the crop boundary by dragging outside of it like so, and then tuck that in just a little bit, drag this guy up because I want to keep that chimney.
I actually want to keep as much of the bottom of the image as I can, because I've got a corner of this dock down here that I don't want to loose. And I might tuck the left side in a little bit like so, because this seems to me a reasonable panoramic view at this point. All right, having done that, I'll go and press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, in order to crop that scene, and that is it. I'll press the F key a couple of times in order to switch to the Full Screen mode and zoom in on my panorama so that we can take it in. And I have been through this image of few times. I could be wrong. There could be some seams some place that I haven't caught on to.
But notice how well the wake works out here, these waves that are passing round around the vaporetto. We see just one vaporetto; we don't see any ghost. We see just one vaporetto on the background, just one motorboat here. Everything has worked out beautifully because I took some care, paid some attention upfront when I was capturing these photographs, and because Photomerge absolutely rocks for stitching together seamless panoramas here inside the Photoshop.
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