Photoshop’s Limitations with Panoramic Stitching: Use Hugin!
On September 15th, 2009 I went to see the Boston Red Sox play the Los Angeles Angels in Fenway Park, Boston. I knew the game would start shortly after sunset and that my seat would look out towards the West, so I planned to take a panoramic photo of the stadium even if I did nothing else that day. The weather cooperated and even provided some clouds to increase the dramatic effect of the sky at sunset. I also snapped the photos when the sky’s brightness was similar to that of the field; this is a short window of opportunity that cannot be missed!
While I had processed the many photos I took during the game, including the 4 individual photos that I wanted to stitch, I hadn’t actually got around to creating the panorama. I tried doing that this evening using Photoshop’s Photomerge function, but it kept complaining about not being able to align one of the images. This had happened to me on a number of occasions with less important panoramas, and I had simply given up, but I was determined to get this panorama to work. Where can I find a good, free panorama stitching tool? I need look no further than this very blog! Peter Zack keeps a list of freeware image editing tools and software that I recommend everyone bookmark. It was there that I found Hugin, a piece of software that serves as a GUI (Graphical User Interface) to the industry standard panorama creating algorithm Panorama Tools, written by German mathematician Prof. Dr. H. Dersch .
I downloaded the latest version, which installed quickly on my Windows XP laptop, and in very little time I had my panorama. And no, it didn’t complain about any images not being aligned. I wasted a lot of time playing around with different perspectives and other parameters, but in the end the default and automatic settings gave the best result by far. Next time I know not to touch anything and simply press GO. Actually…next time (tomorrow) I will redo this panorama using TIFFs instead of JPEGs. I’m sure it will take longer due to the larger file sizes and bit depth, but the end result will be of higher quality.
But even with JPEGs, the panorama looks pretty damn good to me. Please, judge for yourselves (click for larger version). And if you have any favourite panorama tools, let me know in the comments section!
Tags: Baseball, Boston, Fenway Park, Hugin, Los Angeles Angels, Panoramas, Photography, Photoshop, Red Sox