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This chapter is from the book

Creating a Panorama from Three Photos

Now, let's get fancier and make a panorama from three photos. If you want to try your hand at this, the files have been made available for download from this book's web page on the New Riders Publishing site:

  1. By choosing File, Create Photomerge, we will be using the files labeled river right.jpg, river center.jpg, and river left.jpg. Use the Browse button to locate the three files and click OK. Figure 11.7 shows the Photomerge dialog box after it has stitched the pieces together.

Figure 11.7 This panorama is made by using three photos. It has some interesting challenges to overcome.

  1. Photomerge has accurately stitched the three photos together in Normal mode. Because these three photos represent a medium-sized arc, the resulting panorama has flattened the perspective a bit. So, clicking the Perspective button causes the panorama panels to be distorted to restore the perspective of the original scene, as shown in Figure 11.8. If the screen had been really wide, the amount of distortion applied to the ends would have been much greater.

Figure 11.8 The Perspective feature distorts the ends of the panorama slightly to compensate for the curvature of the scene.

  1. Because these photos are well balanced with regards to their overall lighting and color, it isn't necessary to select the Advanced Blending option, but if you like, go ahead. It just takes a bit longer to process the image when you finally make the panorama. Click OK. After a few moments, Elements creates the initial panorama, as shown in Figure 11.9.

Figure 11.9 The initial panorama from the three photos requires some work.

  1. Several things need to be done next. First, from the Layer menu, choose Flatten Image. Next, crop the image. Some might think that it's a good thing to crop out the small piece of tree on the left side, but I left it because it helps frame the complete picture. Finally, from the Enhance menu, choose Auto Color Correction, which works well on this photo, as shown in Figure 11.10.

Figure 11.10 After you flatten, crop, and correct the color, the panorama looks pretty good.

  1. I previously mentioned that locking the AE of your camera prevents the visible lines between the panels. Unfortunately, you'll notice the down side of this technique. The trees on the far right are really in the dark. Fortunately, Elements possesses some great tools to solve this problem.

  2. In the Layers menu, choose New Adjustment Layer, Levels. When the Levels dialog box appears, change the settings to what's shown in Figure 11.11.

Figure 11.11 Using these settings makes the dark part of the panorama lighter. Unfortunately, it washes out the rest of the picture.

  1. At this point, the panorama looks washed out. Now comes the cool stuff. The background image on the bottom remains unchanged because we are looking at it through the Levels adjustment layer. To prove it, open the Layers palette (F11) and click the eyeball icon on the top layer. The old photo is still there. Click the eyeball again to make the layer visible again. We need to find a way to remove the adjustment layer that's over the part that isn't too dark.

    With the adjustment layer still selected, select the paintbrush and, assuming you have black selected as the paint color, begin painting the washed-out area. The color from the background can be seen again and, if you look carefully at the adjustment layer in the Layers palette, you can see that the mask portion of the layer is black wherever you painted the image (see Figure 11.12). At this point, paint all the washed-out area black. I also changed the opacity of the brush to about 40 percent and painted some of the trees on the right, just not the tree trunk (which was the darkest). If, after you paint something black, you must restore it, no problem. Change the brush color to white (X) and by painting the image, you restore the effect of the Adjustment palette.

Figure 11.12 Using the Brush tool, we are able to selectively apply the effect of the Levels adjustment layer to the dark side of the photo.

  1. To wrap up this panorama, I applied a contrast setting of 9 and applied Unsharp Masking at a setting of 70 percent at a 1-pixel radius. The finished work is shown in Figure 11.13.

Figure 11.13 The finished panorama took only a few minutes to create.

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