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In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
So far, we've seen ways to take multiple photographs of a single scene, all of which are framed in the same way, and merge them together using either Auto-Align Layers, or Auto-Blend Layers, or a combination of both. In this final project, we're going to see multiple images of the same scene, however, shot side-by-side, with a little bit of overlap. We're going to stitch them together using that command that's a combination of Auto-Align Layers and Auto-Blend Layers mixed together, and that's the Photomerge command. But before I show you Photomerge, I what you to have a sense for how you shoot images that you want to stitch into a panorama.
So I'm looking at a subfolder that's called Theatre Antique d'Orange, and this is an ancient Roman amphitheater that I captured on my last trip to Southern France. In all, we've got 14 photographs that we're going to merge together. So let's take a look at those photos. I'm working inside the Bridge, as you can see. I'm going to press Ctrl+L or Command +L on the Mac, in order to enter the Slideshow mode, and I have set things up so I'm working with the Slide Transition, because I want to be able to reveal one slide at a time to you, side-by-side.
So we're starting on the left-hand side, the far left, and we're working our way over to the right. And each and every time, I'm trying to make sure that there's anywhere from a third to a half overlap. I don't have a tripod, once again. I'm just hand-holding the camera, and what I'm doing is I'm twisting my body around, while at the same time trying to keep my feet stationary. So what that means is I really have my feet lined up this direction - I'll go back to the theater itself - pointing toward that little statue, or what appears to be a little statue, and then I went ahead and twisted my body this way and shot this image.
Then I went ahead and untwisted my body about two thirds of the distance toward the center at a time or maybe just a half, because that way I have a half overlap, and too much overlap is better than too little. Then I started re-twisting my body, essentially, until I got all the way over here to the right-hand side. So I'm basically describing a 180- degree circle with my body here, although you can go farther if you want. You can turn in the full circle if you like, as long as, once again, you try to maintain the same perspective on that scene.
So if you're turning all the way around in the circle, you would pretty much try to keep your hips stationary as you turn. In any case, another thing you might notice about the shots is they're not horizontal. They're not landscape images; rather, they're portrait images. And over time my experience has been that even though you ultimately want your panorama to be wide, you're better off giving Photo Merge as much the information as possible, and that means shooting vertically, shooting portrait shots. So that's what we're going to work with here. The other thing I want you to bear in mind is how big your images should be.
Now each one of the images I've given you is 1536 x 2048 pixels. So that's about half res from the originals. So in other words, I only have about a quarter as many pixels as I shot left over here. That's still going to result in an enormous panorama. Once we stitch these guys together into a layered file, it's going to be something like 116 MB in Photoshop's RAM. So it's still going to be very large. Had I worked with the full-size DNG files, it would be about four times that big, so we're talking about a 500 MB, a half a gig file in RAM, which is prohibitively large.
Let me show you what you do. Let's say you've got a bunch of DNGs sitting around, or a bunch of RAW files in general, whatever RAW file formats you're working with. I'll switch up to the 32_photomerge folder for moment, and I'll click on this guy, Agustus.dng, which is one of the full- size DNG files that I shot at the same time. It doesn't happen to be part of his Photomerge project, but I shot it within a few minutes of shooting the other photos. So I'll press Ctrl+R or Command+R on a Mac to bring up Camera RAW, as hosted by the Bridge.
Here are the various settings that I applied. That's not actually important for now. Here's what's important. If you want to save out a bunch of downsampled images from Camera RAW, the thing you do is your first visit this blue link here at the bottom of the window. You click on it, and then you change the size from whatever it says here, by default, to two increments smaller is my recommendation. Now once you discover the perfect settings for your panorama, if you want a very large panorama - I'm talking feet - you can create a panorama that is, you know 40, 50, 60 inches wide, when printed at 300 pixels per inch.
So you can create some massive panoramas, if you're working from your full-size images. But again, that's not a way to experiment. So if you want to figure out the perfect settings, go ahead and downsample first. That's still going to be a very large, massive file. So I went ahead and set all mine to 1536 x 2048. So two clicks down, as you can see here. So it's the second minus sign up. Then you click OK, and you don't have to open the image inside Photoshop; instead, you go over to the Save Image button, and then you specify that you want to work with JPG presumably.
Make sure that you're working with the maximum quality setting, if you go that route, which is 12. Then just decide where you're going to save your files, click the Save button, and away you go. Then once you're done, all you have to do is click the Done button, or you can sit here and watch the message that will appear down here in the lower-left corner of the window that tells you how many images remain to be processed. At any stage in the game, you can click the Done button in order to escape out, and Camera RAW we'll go ahead and follow through on the creation of those JPG files for you.
So anyway, that's the basics of how to get your files ready for Photomerge. In the next exercise, we'll choose the Photomerge command, and I'll show you how to select the perfect projection option.
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