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Merging photos into a panorama

The images you’ll use for this first exercise are two slightly overlapping photos taken at Mont Saint Michel in France. The camera lens used for these shots did not have a wide enough angle to capture the entire scene. These pictures provide an ideal opportunity for learning how to create a panorama, having Photoshop Elements do most of the work for you.

  1. If you’re not already in the Organizer, switch to it now.
  2. In the Keyword Tags palette, click the Find box next to the Lesson 10 keyword tag.
  3. Ctrl-click to select the two pictures of Mont Saint Michel, named 10_01_a.jpg and 10_01_b.jpg in the Photo Browser.
  4. Choose File > New > Photomerge Panorama.

Photoshop Elements will load the Editor workspace in Full Edit mode and open the Photomerge dialog box.

  1. Under Source Files in the Photomerge dialog box, select Files from the Use menu, and then click the Add Open Files button.
  2. Under Layout, select Auto, and then click OK.
  3. Wait while Photoshop Elements creates the panorama and opens it in a new image window.

    That’s really all there is to it! All that remains to crop the image and save your work. But first, let’s have a closer look at how good a job Photoshop Elements did of merging the two images. Depending on your source files, you might sometimes spot little problem areas, in which case you’d then need to try a different layout option to merge your photos.

  4. In the Layers panel, click the eye icon (eye_icon.jpg) beside the top layer to hide it.

    In the edit window, you can now see which part of the image in the lower layer was used to create the panorama. The unused portion is hidden by a layer mask. You can see a black and white thumbnail of the layer mask in the Layers palette; black represents the masked area of the image and white represents the part of the image that has contributed to the panorama.

  5. Choose View > Actual Pixels, or zoom in even closer if you wish, and then use the Hand tool to move the image in the edit window so that you can inspect the edge of the layer mask. Click the eye icon (eye_icon.jpg) for the top layer repeatedly to hide and reveal that layer while you look for irregularities along the edge between the two images. Look for pixels along the masked edge of one image that appear misaligned with pixels in the other. Use the Hand tool to inspect the entire edge of the mask.
  6. If your inspection does not reveal any problem areas, make the top layer visible and you’re ready to crop the picture and save it. If you do find problems in a merged panorama, close the file without saving it and repeat the procedure trying a different Photomerge layout option when you get to step 6. Later in this lesson, the section “Creating a Photomerge Panorama interactively” explains the interactive layout option, which gives you the most control over the way the panorama is put together.

Cropping the merged image

As the merged image has an irregular outline, you’ll use the Crop tool to create a uniform edge. The Crop tool removes those parts of an image that fall outside an adjustable cropping rectangle. Cropping can also be very useful for changing the visual focus of a photo. When you crop an image, the resolution remains unchanged.

  1. Choose View > Fit On Screen.
  2. Choose Image > Crop. A cropping rectangle appears on the image. Drag the handles of the cropping rectangle to make it as large as possible, being careful not to include any of the checkerboard areas where the image is transparent. When you’re happy with the result, click the Commit button in the lower right corner of the cropping rectangle.
  3. Choose File > Save and save the merged image to your My CIB Work folder as 10_01_Work, in Photoshop (*.PSD,*PDD) format, making sure that the Layers option is activated. Saving your file in Photoshop format preserves the layers, so that you can always return to adjust them if necessary. If you save in JPEG format the layer information will be lost.
  4. Choose File > Close to close the file 10_01_Work.psd, but keep the two source files, 10_01_a.jpg and 10_02_b.jpg, open in the Editor.

Creating a Photomerge Panorama interactively

The automatic layout options in the Photomerge dialog box usually do a good job, but if you need manual control over the way source images are combined to create a panorama, choose the Interactive Layout option in the Photomerge dialog box.

  1. With the files 10_01_a.jpg and 10_02_b.jpg still open in the Editor, choose File > New > Photomerge Panorama.
  2. Under Source Files in the Photomerge dialog box, select Files from the Use menu, and then click the Add Open Files button. Under Layout, select Interactive Layout, and then click OK.
  3. Wait while Photoshop Elements opens the interactive Photomerge dialog box.
  4. Explore the tools and controls in the Photomerge dialog box:
    • Use the Zoom tool (zoom-tool.jpg) or the Navigator controls to zoom in or out of the image. Drag the red rectangle in the Navigator to shift the view in the zoomed image.
    • Use the Select Image tool (select_image.jpg) to select any of the photos in the work area. Drag with the pointer or use the arrow keys on the keyboard to reposition a selected image. To remove a photo from the composition, drag it from the work area into the light box strip above. To add an image to the composition, drag it from the light box into the work area.
    • Use the Rotate Image tool (rotate_image_tool.jpg) to rotate a selected photo.
    • Choose between the Reposition Only and Perspective settings.
    • With the Perspective option activated, you can click in the selected image with the Set Vanishing Point tool (vanishing_point.jpg) to set a new vanishing point—the reference around which the other images will be composed.
  5. When you’re satisfied with the result, click OK. The Photomerge dialog box closes, and Photoshop Elements goes to work. You’ll see windows open and close as you wait for Photoshop Elements to create the panorama.
  6. If you like your new composition better than the one you created in the previous exercise, crop the image and save your work in the My CIB Work folder.
  7. Choose File > Close All to close all open windows. When asked whether you want to save your changes, click No.
  8. Switch back to the Organizer.
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