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There will come a time when you have a photo that's just too big for your scanner. The only thing for it is to scan it in pieces--sometimes just a couple of pieces and sometimes many more. That could present a problem if you had no easy way to piece them back together, especially if your only option was to put them together with just your mouse and your eye to guide you. Luckily, that's not the case, for inside Photoshop is a very powerful, highly-accurate photo-stitching tool called Photomerge. Open all your scans in Photoshop, or have them all in the same folders.
If all the scans aren't facing the same direction, Photomerge will flip the images for you. With all your images open, go to File > Automate and then all the way to the bottom, where you'll find Photomerge. If your images are all in a folder, you can go up to Browse, or if they're open, click Add Open Files. Keep your Blend Images Together box checked. This program does a really good job of blending and will save you a lot of time.
I pretty much always check the Correct Geometric Distortion box. This setting is actually meant for photos taken with an extreme wide-angle or fisheye lens. The trouble there, you see, is I'm not a photographer, so I can't always tell, and I can't go back in time to see what was used. Since it does no harm to the photo to have it checked and it won't correct something that's not there in the first place, I just go ahead and check it. Over here under Layout I just usually leave the Auto button ticked and click OK.
And now Photomerge is doing the work for me to put these photos all together. You can see Photomerge is doing its work editing the pieces together and blending them. It's fully automated, so if you have a huge photograph with many pieces, you can get up, walk around, get a drink, do some other work, or whatever. So now that Photomerge is done, you can see the four pieces of the image have been merged together. We'll zoom in and have a look at the result. Using Ctrl+Plus or Command+Plus, zoom it into around 100%.
In most cases you won't ever know this was stitched together. In the rare instance, you see a line or a tonal variation marking a seam, simply treated like part of the restoration work and use the Clone, Patch, or other tools to disguise it. All of your pieces will be on separate layers along with the masks Photomerge added to blend them. Select the layer at the top and then Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E on a PC or Shift+Command+Option+E on a Mac to combine all of the layers into one.
You can then delete the layers underneath. You still have all the individual scans in their separate files, so you don't really need them anymore. Scanning large photos in multiple pieces, then putting them back together in Photoshop is a breeze with Photomerge. The only thing you need to do in terms of preparation is to make sure you have plenty of overlap between scans. If you have too little, Photomerge won't work. So be sure to overlap your scans by at least 25% for the best results.
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