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In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.
In the previous movie of this installment of the practicing photographer, you saw me shoot a picture of Greg standing on a bunch of tires in the middle of nowhere in an empty dry lake bed. And I showed you that I was going to warp that into this little planet with Greg poking up off of it. What we're going to do now is take those images that I shot and do the actual warping so you can see what the post production process is. I'm here in Bridge and I've gone through the images that I shot. I've already picked out the three that I want and they were actually the very first three that I shot.
So I've got this image, this image and this image. So, straight across panorama. I can tell already, as I thumb through these, that. My horizon line here is not staying consistent, so, that's going to mean some extra cropping and things like that. But, still, I think I'm pretty good. I'm just going to select those images, and go up to the Tools menu, choose Photoshop and Photo Merge. And that's going to open the images in Photoshop and start the merging process. If you're not clear on panoramic shooting, take a look at my Photoshop CS 5 Landscape Photography course.
There's a whole chapter on everything from shooting panoramas to stitching panoramas. This is CS6 that I'm working in, works exactly the same way there, so now, I just need to wait until it's finished. Okay, when it's done, I end up with three layers in a single document. And you can see the stitching that its done. Its very smooth because of the type of projection that it had to do to get my images warped into a single panorama. I had this weird crop. So this image needs to be cropped like any panorama does and I think it also probably needs to be straightened. I'm going to pull a guide down here to the horizon.
And I can see that my horizon is not straight. It needs to be straight for this tiny planets thing to work. So I'm going to grab the Crop tool. Now, earlier I told you that your images need to be twice as wide as they are high. Honestly it's not that critical that they're really two to one, so, it's not a bad idea to work that way. But I'm going to just freely crop this however I want here. And I'm going to go for as much image as I can. Now, the more image that I have, possibly, the smaller Greg will end up being. So you may find that you want to try different warps with different widths to get different proportions in the elements in your image.
That looks pretty good to me, I'm going to keep that. I'm still in three layers here because of the merging process, so I'm just going to flatten my image that's going to speed things up. Now the next thing I need to do is straighten the image. I'm still in my, I'm still in my Crop tool, in Photoshop CS6, straightening is very easy, there's a straighten button up here, and then I can just click, to the final line across what I like to be horizontal. If you're working in an earlier version of Photoshop you might need to use the Measure tool and the straighten feature that's built into that. So that's looking pretty good. Next I need to rotate the image 180 degrees.
I'm going to do that with Image > Image Rotation > 180 degrees. That flips it upside down. Now my image needs to be a perfect square and it's plainly very much a rectangle. So I'm going to use the image size dialog box to change it from a rectangle to a square. I need to be sure that constraint proportions is not checked because I'm going to do an asymmetric re-sizing. I just need these two numbers to match. Now I can match the height to the width. That's going to make an enlargement of my image which might mean softening or I can go the other way.
I'm going to just change the width, the larger number to be the same as the height. Mostly because it's going to make the processing much faster while you guys are watching. So I'm entering the same value in there because Constraint Proportions is not checked, I'm going to end up with a square image. So I say OK, and sure enough my image has been squished into a square. Now I'm ready to do the spherical warping that's going to give me the tiny world. If I go up to the Filter menu, I'm looking for Distort. But Distort is grayed out, I can't get to it. That's probably because this was a raw image and I expect that as it came out the raw converter, it came in as a 16-bit image.
And it actually says right up here in the title bar RGB/16. So that means that I'm in RGB color mode at 16 bits per pixel. So I'm not going to have access to any of my distort filters, until I go to image, mode, and change it down to eight bits per channel. That's a very quick little feature there. Then I go Filter. Aha, now I have my Distort menu. I'm going to pick Polar Coordinates. And I want to go from rectangular. I have a rectangular Cartesian grid of coordinates right now. I want to remap those to polar. That's the default.
So it should come up already checked that way. Hit OK. And there we go. I have a tiny world. I have a tiny world with some problems. I have some a tiny world that needs some change here. You can see that it's done a great job of warping everything. Craig's ended up poking off the bottom. I can easily fix that by going Image Rotation 90 degrees clockwise. That's a little better. But I've got a few other problems. My horizon was really good. I really did end up with the edges in the right place, so I do have this nice perfect circle, but boy there's a big seam here.
I wasn't paying attention to the fact that the tires were not actually lined up the same on each side of the frame. So I could try to fix that here in my, in my warped image, but I think instead it's going to be easier to go back to the original. While I'm here I want to look at a couple of other things. I've got this weird artifact out here. I can, just try to fix that through some cloning later. I like these little clouds. I think I might want more of them. It's going to be hard to clone them in the final image because they need to be cloned along this circular arc, so I think I may do, go back and do that in the original image.
So, I'm going to go to my History palette and just back out of this maybe right back to where I did my eight bits per pixel change. actually I have a problem working upside down, and I don't want to work on the squished image. So I'm going to go all the way back to my crop. So what do I do now to get this end of the tires to match this end of the tires? it's going to be a cloning operation. But I think before I do that, I might make things easier on myself by trying to minimize the amount of cloning that I need to do.
I'm going to drag a guide down here. I like that this end of the tires is really thick, and this end is a little bit thinner. I'm going to drag this guide down here to the top of the tires. So you can see that I need this part to match up with, with this part. And then I'm going to need this part to match up down here, so let me drag another guide here. So I, I need to have more tires in this area. I think I'm going to start that by simply cropping the image again. I'm going to drag the right side over, to here.
Now I don't have any tires in the image that go above that line. So that's going to leave me with less cropping to do. Now, I don't know what it's going to do to the distortion of the image because I've now got such a much narrower image, but we'll just try it and see. I'm going to grab my Clone tool and just start cloning in some more tires. If you're not familiar with the Clone tool, and how to use it, there are lots of places in the lynda library to find that out. My big concern right now oops, with my cloning is I don't want to clone in such a way that I get obviously repetitive patterns like these three tires right here.
So I'm going to go grab some tires from a completely different part of the image and clone those in there. Just to break that up. And overall that's still a little too recognizable. Let's throw just some of that in there. Okay that's not bad. I, I don't think that looks, and then I got these three things. I don't know that, that looks recognizably cloned, but also the whole thing's going to be warped into a circle. So this is all going to change. So. Let's leave it at that and see what happens. Like I said before, I like these little whispy cloud things.
I'd like to have more of them, so I'm just going to clone a couple more in, and I'm going to try and build up some bigger clouds out of them, so that they don't look quite so uniform. It, might be that it's actually turning cloudy outside right now, it might be that I just want to go back and shoot this again if that was possible with more in the sky, because I do like the clouds there. So, I can do that all day cloning clouds. Let's go and see what happens. I need to back through my whole process now, I'm going to first rotate 180 degrees.
Then I'm going to go to Image, Image Size then I'm going to take this down to be a square. Constrained Proportions is not checked. I could work in either my pixel dimensions or my document size. I can enter the same values for document size. Instead I'm just going to go up here and say 36 there goes Expose, 36, 33, hit OK. Now I have a square Now, I'm ready to go filter. Oh, look, distort is gone again. That's because I undid my mode change. So I need to go back to eight bits. Filter > Distort > Polar coordinates.
Rectangular to polar, okay. Aha, now we're getting somewhere. I still have a very visible scene here, but now my tires are matching. I've got a nice perfect circle of tires. You're almost always going to have a scene like that in any of these because there's always going to be total difference from one end of the frame to the other unless you are in some geometrically perfect environment. So here I can clean this up by working directly on my image with the Clone tool. Just going to try to break up with those smaller Brush. I'm using the left and right Bracket keys to change Brush size.
And again, I can really cheat this a lot and get away with a lot here because it's an inherently distorted, weird geometrically imprecise image. I just want to make sure that any, any seam removal I'm doing is not introducing anything new. Now there is a change in tonality there. That's not really bothering me. Most people are not going to look at this and go oh, there's a little bit of tonality difference right there. They're going to look at this and go, wow, that's really weird. It's a spherical little planet with a guy sticking up off of it. So, I'm hoping my content is going to kind of upstage any problems that I have here.
One last thing. I, maybe I don't mind that. This now looks like kind of a uniform patch of stuff. So I think I'll just leave that there. Let's see about rotating 90 degrees to see where, Greg ends up. So 90 degrees clockwise. I like that better. I could even do a free rotate if I wanted. And, and position him, however I liked. Arbitrary rotate let's go back 15 degrees. So I could do that, but now I'm going to be forced to crop and fill in the sky, which I could do with content aware fill and all that kind of stuff. But I think that's pretty good.
Let's get those guides out of here. and I could probably crop this down a little bit. Last thing I need to do is just basic total adjustment. Just like I would on any image, I want to be sure my contrast and saturation is good for the image. So, I'm going to go here to levels. I've got a fairly strong black point. It could be a little bit better. My whites are way off. I'm going to push this over here, which might be blowing out some of the clouds. I can fix that later with a layer mask. But that's making sure that all my tonality in here is correct.
So, I like that. I think that'll work. I would want to touch it up a little bit more maybe, sharpen it, do a test print, see how it looks. But again, this is a very simple process that you can use anytime you've got a clean horizon with a straight line, a nice wide panorama and stuff poking up over that horizon. Notice everything that's going off planet as it were are the things that were above the horizon. So try this with city scapes, landscapes, even there, even sometimes interior shots work well when you warp them into a sphere like this.
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