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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
The Photomerge feature in Photoshop has gotten so good that you really don't have to be all that precise or perfect when you take your series of shots you want to stitch together for your panorama. Now, of course, if you use a tripod and take careful steps to make sure you overlap and stitch by 30% from frame to frame to frame, you'll get better results. But I am going to show here, Photoshop can do some pretty good work just with the hand-held series of shots, which is what this is. This is a picture of a building in Vienna, and we want to go ahead and merge this into a single panoramic image. We are in Bridge right now.
So, I am going to go ahead and select these five images. I can just click on one, hold down the Shift key and click on the last to select everything in between. And then to get this going inside Photoshop, we'll go to the Tools menu in Bridge, down to Photoshop, over to Photomerge. This will slip us over to Photoshop and bring up the Photomerge dialog where the images that you had selected in Bridge are already in the list here, which is great. I typically use the Auto Layout feature, but there are some other different ways to merge the files together. But like I said, I always use Auto. These are the important choices.
You want to make sure you choose Blend Images Together. If you don't, then you'll notice seams when these images get overlapped on top of each other, especially in the skies. When you choose Blend Images Together, it's going to equalize or make sure all the sky and exposure information is the same from each image. So, that's really cool. If you have Geometric Distortion, you can also turn on that check box, as well as if you have Vignettes in the corners from the frame or from the lenses. Turning this on will let you correct that as well.
Keep in mind that these are not on, by default. Everytime you check one of these, it will take a little bit longer to do Photomerge. It is a processor-intensive operation. You are crunching a lot of pixels together. This one, make sure you leave that on at all time. So, it's always going to get you better results. Let's go ahead and click OK. Photoshop is going to start doing its thing. It's going to bring all these images into a single file and start stitching them together, matching up, overlapping areas and compositing them and then also doing the auto-blend to correct the exposures and color information across these five different frames here.
Now, if you take a look over in the Layers panel, you'll see that you still have each image as a separate layer. So, nothing was destructive in this process. What Photoshop did is built a layer mask hiding different parts of each image to give you the perfect composite. So, I can turn each one of these off. You can see where it's bringing these slices or frames together. Now, you can see I missed some sky when I did my stitching. I did that on purpose to show you something else toward the end that's kind of a bonus. But for now, let's go ahead and correct the distortion.
We want to correct the angle of the building so it's straight on, and then we'll crop it to a final composition. So, let's first correct the lens distortion here. To do that, what we want to do is merge the composite of these five images into a single layer, so I can run a filter on the total composite. You can't run a filter on more than one layer, at least without a workaround. So, for now, we are going to combine these into a single layer. To do that, we are going to use the Merge Visible command. It's Command+Shift+E or Ctrl+Shift+E. If you want, you can use the Layers flyout menu and choose Merge Visible instead.
And that combines all of those individual layers into a single composite. Let's take this into a Full Screen mode by pressing the letter F. Then we can pan it around so we can see the entire image here by holding down the Spacebar and dragging to the left a little bit. And then, we are going to use a filter called Lens Correction. It's located up here under the Filter menu > Lens Correction. But Lens Correction actually will clip your image if it needs to scale it larger to adjust the correction. So, what we are going to do is we are going to make sure we make the canvas larger so that we don't lose any detail in the final image.
A tricky way to do a canvas enlargement is to use the Crop tool, actually. I am going to press the letter C for the Crop tool. I am going to drag out an initial crop boundary. Now, it looks like it's remembering some settings from the last time the Crop tool was used. So, I am going to hit the Escape key to cancel that crop. You'll see up here there is Width and Height of 6 x 4, and 300. I am going to ahead and hit the Clear button to blank out those fields. We'll go ahead and zoom down once, Command+Minus. We'll go ahead and drag out a crop boundary the entire size of the image. Once that's in place, I can now grab a corner handle.
I am going to hold down the Option or Alt key and crop larger than the current image, and that will actually increase the canvas size. So, normally, you use the Crop tool to make something smaller. But if you drag out a crop and then let go and then make it bigger, you are actually making your canvas larger. Awesome! We are ready to go use that Lens Correction now. So, let's go the Filter > Lens Correction and the options that we want are in the Custom tab. So, I am going to go ahead and click on the word Custom. We want to change the Vertical Perspective. We just want to slide this little widget over to the left until the right and left side of those buildings look like they're vertically straight.
We can use the Grid Guide there to kind of help us line that up. So, that's looking much better. Here is the Preview check box. We can turn that off. There is before, and there is after. You see it's doing a fantastic job. As it's doing it, you are seeing that's scaling the image in order to correct that distortion. So, if we had not increased the canvas size, we may have likely chopped off the top of that building into the canvas window. So, we want to make sure we increase that canvas size before we use Lens Correction. Let's go ahead and click OK, and it's looking great. Now we'll crop the final composite. I am going to press the letter C again to get to the Crop tool.
We'll just drag out a crop boundary within the bounds of the final image here, making sure I don't go outside the image area here. I am going to go into the top of the building there. Good! And I want to make it a little bit to the left here. Great! I'll press Return, and there is my final image. Oh! But we have a problem, right? What do we are going to do about those holes? Well, the magic of Photoshop is going to save us again. I am going to use the Magic Wand tool, this tool over here. Choose the Magic Wand tool. Press W or Shift+W, if you need to switch from the Quick Selection tool to the Magic Wand tool.
I am going to click in this one blank area and hold down the Shift key and click in the other blank area. Then we'll bring up the Edit Fill command, Edit > Fill, and I want you to Use Content-Aware. Go ahead and click OK. And you may have guessed it. Photoshop is going to guess what those pixel should be as if they had actually existed when you took the original series of shots. It's going to invent sky and clouds for us. How cool is that? Let's go ahead and deselect. And it did a nice job of filling in those holes.
If you don't like that seam here, of course, you can go get the Rubber Stamp tool or the Healing Brush tool and actually modify that further. But I think it did a pretty phenomenal job of just making stuff up that is believable. So, there is your final image. It looks like there's a little seam here that we want to get rid of real quick. We'll this use the Spot Healing Brush to do that. I want to make sure Content-Aware is turned on and Sample All layers. We are going to go ahead and increase the brush size by using our Right Bracket key. We'll just quickly wipe through that particular stretch there and look at that. It's all gone.
And real quickly, we'll do the same thing over here. There you have it. There is your final Photomerge panorama, using the Photomerge feature starting from Bridge by going to Tools > Photoshop > Photomerge, making sure you chose Auto-blend to get the sky looking real nice. cropping it down, doing a lens distortion, and then finally, using the Magic Wand tool to select the holes and using Content-Aware Fill to fill in the gaps.
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