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Photoshop has long allowed you to merge multiple images into a seamless panorama. That feature got much better inside in Photoshop CS3 and it's even better still inside CS4. For example, you can know automatically correct for vignetting in your photographs and I'll show you what that means. I'm working inside the Bridge and I have tabbed away all but the Content panel and I'm zoomed-in on three thumbnails here so that we can see them up close and personal. And I shot these three images from a hotel balcony and I'm working my way from left to right, making sure that I have a lot of overlap between my photographs and I have locked down the focus and the focal length and I'm stationary. So I have done all that good stuff that you need to do if you are going to stitch images together into a panoramic shot.
Then there is two different ways to work. One is I could go up to theTools menu, I could choose Photoshop and then I could choose Photomerge, which will automatically align and blend the images together. However, I want you to get a sense of what's really going on in the background. So I'm going to apply the Auto-Align and Auto-Blend commands manually, so we can see the process unfold one step at a time. So I'm going to choose this command Load Files Into Photoshop Layers. This is a new command in Photoshop CS4 Standard and what it does is it takes all three of these photographs, throws them into a single image composition as independent layers as you can see here inside the Layers panel.
Now I'm going to go ahead and zoom-in on this image just a little bit and I want to show you each one of these layers independently. So this is the far right of the three images, this is the one in the center and this is the far left and if you look very carefully at the corner, you can see that we have a little vignetting, that is a little bit of shading around the parameter of the photograph and normally that messes up your panoramic shots. I will show you what I'm talking about. In Photoshop CS3 here is what would have happened. I would go ahead and grab all three by clicking on the bottom one and then Shift-clicking on the top one.
Then I would go on to the Edit menu and choose Auto-Align Layers and then I would let it do its thing. I will just leave it set to Auto and I will click OK in order to merge these three photographs together and it's aligning based on content, which means it's going to figure out whether it should move the images around and distort the images and so on or whether it auto place all three images directly on top of each other. So it was smart enough to figure out that the images should be side by side with a fair amount of distortion going on, but I Shift+Tab away my right side panels, you can see that this vignetting is really messing things up.
So notice that we have quite the seam going in this area right here. We have some darkening in the corner of this photograph and then we have this light area in the central photograph and some darkening in the rear photograph from the opposite corner. So this is a real problem and as I say, this is all because of the vignetting that's inherent in the specific shots. So what I will do is take advantage of a new function here inside Photoshop CS4. First I will undo, that's not new. I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to go ahead and undo the effects of the Auto-Align command. Then I will go up to the Edit menu and I will choose Auto-Align Layers again, that very same command, but this time I will turn on Vignette Removal and then I will click OK. So we are just running the same operation but this time we are looking for vignetting and we are going to be getting rid of it as you will see and it does actually an amazing job, as is if there is some blending going on in addition to the Auto-Align function, as you can see right here. So we have completely gotten rid of that bad interaction that was occurring in this corner. Now we still have some blending that needs to be done, but the vignetting is no longer visible.
All right, let's go ahead and zoom back up so we can take in this entire panoramic scene. Then I'm going up to the Edit menu and presumably my layers are still selected, so I can now choose Auto-Blend Layers and I want to set the Blend Method to Panorama, this is a new function by the way, and of course have Seamless Tones And Colors turned on, so it goes ahead and counts for any color differences inside the image and then I will click OK and notice that it not only takes care of these little weird sort of transitional colors inside the image, but it also adds in a bunch of boats.
So this is before, I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. This is before and this is after. So notice this boat appears, this boat appears over there. It's very smart and it does a really great job creating a seamless composition. There are still seams here and there if you were to look very closely, but in general, I think it looks really great and then the next step would be just to finish this effect off. The next step would be to grab the Crop tool as I have done and then I would drag around this area here of my composition and I would make sure that Cropped Area is set to Hide, so I'm not really getting rid of anything. My layers are still intact and then I would just go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and there is my final composition.
Thanks to Photoshop's new ability to remove vignetting when creating a seamless panorama.
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