Crowd Panos

Photographing Concerts and their Audiences

 

For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed showing the audience when photographing concerts. Invariably there is no way to step back far enough to capture the expansive crowd. Nor do I have a wide angle lens that can take it all in. My solution has been to make a panoramic image by stitching together overlapping views. Like this:

Evening Concert – PC Town Center  —  CLICK picture – with luck your browser will show it bigger

Sadly I can no longer link to a viewer that shows panos well, but with luck your browser will do a reasonable job.

The image here was stitched from eight separate exposures. Here are four of them.

Take a closer look at these four. You can see that stitching them faces some interesting obstacles. Yes, The photos show lots of noise. These photos were taken in the evening, night might be a better word. All at f/5.6 and 1/250s with the camera allowed to adjust the sensitivity (auto-ISO). My old camera doesn’t do so well at ISO 5000 to 25600.  On the left end the light evening sky tricked the camera into underexposing the people and I had to boost the shadows – always bad for noise. On the right end the camera reached ISO 25600 and all the noise that comes with that. I do use some noise removal app for these, but that is another story.

In the minute or so that it took to get this set people moved around quite a bit. Some people even walked along in front. That is one huge problem for stitching. Another is more subtle. Look at the lamp post. In one image it is quite bent, straight in the last. That tells you my lens produces a good about of barrel distortion. These problems, and even exposure nonuniformities are easily solved my my stitching program, Microsoft Image Composite Editor, ICE.

On the bottom it says: Camera motion: rotating motion. Stitched 8 of 8 images. Spans 169.3° horizontally, 48.7° vertically. You can see how the program ballooned the images to correct for distortion, moved them up and down for best alignment and found were to cut  from one to the next. Oh, there are stitching artifacts. In a crowd with everybody moving not even the best AI, for that matter nt even old-fashioned human intelligence, could get it perfect. ICE offers a number of different projections as you can see. For this I stayed with the default cylindrical projection.

The four steps at the top describe the major functions, Import, Stitch, Crop, and Export. In the cropping function it even offers to fill the areas around the edges with “context matching fill”. I did not make use of that for this pano.

The final step is to export. Sadly the Deep Zoom and Photosynth options are no longer of use. Time has marched on and Microsoft has given up on those tools. Even ICE is pretty much orphaned, although still available for download from Microsoft. I chose to export a full quality (100%) JPG image. You can see that it is 18098 pixels wide. That makes for a 98.78 megapixel image. I did go back and trimmed top and bottom, see first image above. The file size still came out as 99.6 MB. Yes, I did scale it down for this post.

Here is another pano. This one is made up of just two images. I am using this as the “featured image” so WordPress does not have to choke on the wide panorama.

Evening Concert – PC Town Center

Now for some other photos from this first Concert on the Green at the Peachtree Corners Town Center with the band Sister Hazel. The lead singer is Ken Block

 

.:.

© 2019 Ludwig Keck

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Spoiled your photo?

Not all spoiled photos are bad!

As I was preparing a post for another blog, I was looking for photos of cafe doors. Searching my archives I came across one that was a nice enough image but for some reason or another I took it with the camera way cockeyed. No idea what I was thinking at the time. The other photos in the series were perfectly alright, but this one was the only one that really fit my story.

Here is the original.

45 South Cafe

45 South Cafe

Just not the way I want it. OK, let’s go to Microsoft Image Composite Editor. Nothing to “composite” here, just one frame. ICE won’t accept a single file. So I duplicated it. Loaded it into ICE, told it I was using “Rotating Motion” and had it “Stitch”. It will do that with two copies of the same photo. Then it lets you manipulate it as you like. For “Projection” I used “Perspective”. This let me do some perspective correction as well as rotating the image freely. Now I had a picture I liked. Saved it without cropping.

Since the image was rotated rather strongly the exported image showed a lot of black around the useful picture. That didn’t look so good. Paint to the rescue! Just drop in “white” in each of the black triangles and here we are. What do you think, will this work?

Evening at 45 South Cafe

Evening at 45 South Cafe

 


.:.

© 2016 Ludwig Keck

 

The Unplanned Pano

Panoramas are fun, even unplanned ones

This old, long “retired”, gasoline station intrigued me. We were driving along in the rural part of Georgia, up in the northern part, when we came upon this sight. We stopped and I took a number of photos. Only when I was doing my post-processing back home did I realize that I had not taken a overall photo that showed the whole place.

Well, that what the “Create” tab in Photo Gallery is for. The first photo showed the building nicely, the third one included the fuel island, there were a number of other views as I walked around the place, and by the tenth photo I had gotten back close to the starting point and showed the pumps, including the ancient one.

Here are the two shots that together cover the whole place.

You can clearly see that I had not taken these photos from the same spot. Making a pano from these would be asking a great deal from Photo Gallery. And indeed it was asking too much. Here is what it could do. Amazing as it is, but the top left of the marque sign just didn’t match.

Old Gas Station - Pano

Old Gas Station – Pano

So on to the nest better tool, in fact the best there is, Microsoft Image Composite Editor. It too had problems, I tried the different planar motion settings and rotating motion. There were still disturbing stitching artifacts. So I did some perspective correction on each image and tried again. That was better.

Old Gas Station - ICE pano

Old Gas Station – ICE pano

A fairly good stitch but the building was way too distorted. Some more fiddling and this was more acceptable. There is a bend in the fuel island base, but I thinks it is not too bad.

Old Gas Station

Old Gas Station

Now with some cropping we have a pretty good photo of the whole place. It still amazes me what Image Composite Editor can do, even with images that clearly were not taken with stitching in mind.

Old Gas Station

Old Gas Station

 

Also see my post at Two Cameras – Two ViewsArtifacts: Fuel Pump


.:.

© 2016 Ludwig Keck

Stitching Fun

Panoramas with People

There was a time when making a panorama was a tedious task. Taking the pictures had to be done just so and the assembly of different shots into a finished panorama was arduous. Having people in the panorama was difficult and mostly a no-no. Of course, that was a long time ago. Nowadays you just shoot a number of exposures moving the camera some to get overlapping pictures and the rest is just a few clicks away.

My favorite picture handling tool is Photo Gallery. I use it to import and manage my photos and to do the primary touch-ups and enhancements. But Photo Gallery is a powerful tool even though it is “long in tooth”, not having had an update in three years. It has a panorama tool right on the Create bar. You just select the photos to be combined and it does the rest.

I had a group of six shots taken on a busy street with food trucks. There were people all over the road including some children on the sidewalk in front of me. The photos were taken in rapid succession but the kids moved along quite a ways in the few seconds between the frames. I had planned to make a panorama of this scene. I just selected the photos the way they came out of the camera and sent them to Create > Panorama.

Photo Gallery uses the “engine” from the Microsoft Image Composite Editor to make panoramas. It overlaps the photos and makes alignments, warping each frame to achieve its ends. It even adjusts the exposures as necessary. Here is what it looked like before cropping:

LK8_4936-41-S1-1280

With cropping and some enhancing my panorama looked like this:

LK8_4936-41-S3-1280

If you look really hard you will notice the running boy on the sidewalk is also pictured a little farther along. Cute. I checked my originals and indeed the boy appears in all six, but the panorama tool only shows him twice. Here is a portion of that panorama done as “café art”:

Food Truck Alley

Photo Gallery also incorporates a link to ICE, the Microsoft Image Composite Editor (if installed). Now this program has been updated recently and has powerful ways of controlling the image. So I passed the six photos, now a bit enhanced but not cropped, to ICE. It assembled the parts a bit differently. The boy is still duplicated, along with his companion, and another passerby has been cloned. In the default assembly ICE did make a noticeable stitching error but it is minor. Here the uncropped version:

Christmas in the Corners 2015

ICE can save the assembled composite to your computer of upload it directly to Photosynth. I did that. If you click on the image above you will be taken to the panorama in Photosynth.

Here are enlargements of the sections with cloned pedestrians:

Christmas in the Corners 2015

Christmas in the Corners 2015

Note how nice the “clones” fit into the crowd. They look like regular people. You might even miss them on first glance.

There is more fun that can be made out of these six photos, but that is for another time. Here are the six photos, click on them any you can see them in Photosynth. Note: If you are running Windows 10 and using the Edge browser, you probably will not be able to see this display in Photosynth. Switch to Firefox or Opera and the presentation will run. (Hey Microsoft, do you get the message?)

Christmas in the Corners 2015

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

ICE-2 Distortion and Correction

This is my second look at ICE 2.o, the Microsoft Research Image Composite Editor version 2.0. In this article we will take a look at distorting and correcting images and more.

ICE-2-D C-11

If you just open ICE you get mostly advertising. This front page is the only one soliciting. Microsoft Research has fallen on hard times, but at least they are still there and turning out superb tools.

The way I operate, I never get to see this opening screen, but I am getting ahead of my story. ICE-2-D C-05First some very good news. ICE 2.0 work perfectly in Windows 10, that is in the Technical Preview, but tit should work just as well in the final version. It does require a C++ Runtime Library. It tells you that and the installation is just a matter of clicking along.

Once installed, it can be called right from Photo Gallery. Yes, Photo Gallery, although now three years since the last update, works quite well in Windows 10. Not perfectly and not as smoothly as in Windows 7, but I have hope.

ICE-2-D C-07In this article I want to touch on how a composite image can be distorted, or more importantly, corrected in various ways. For perspective correction, straightening “falling” buildings, I have always preferred ICE. No ICE does not work on a single image, it requires at least two to generate a composite. It can easily be tricked by supplying it with two copies of the same image. When ICE is installed you can find it and pass images to it right from inside Photo Gallery. Click the Create tab, then More tools and it is right there.

ICE-2-D C-09

When ICE opens the images selected in Photo Gallery will be right there. Under Camera motion, select Rotating motion in order for ICE to provide the various projection options.

ICE-2-D C-12

The new version has a richer collection of projection tools: Cylindrical, Transverse Cylindrical, Mercator, Transverse Mercator, Spherical, Transverse Spherical, Orthographic, Fisheye, Stereographic, and Perspective.

It is real fun playing with these projection tools. For this article, with just the single image, I will just mention perspective correction. The image is manipulated by dragging it up or down, right or left, or dragging a corner to rotate it.  It is much easier to demonstrate than to explain, take a look at this short video (just a couple of minutes).

Click on the image or the link, whichever shows in your browser.

//player.vimeo.com/video/120834937

ICE-2-D+C-V

In the video you noticed that after I settled on the correction I also employed the new Auto complete option. This feature is called “content aware fill” in some other editing tools. In ICE it works to fill in the “dark” corners in a composite.

The screen shots here and the video are from ICE working in Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9926. The video is shown unedited (except for the addition of titles front and back).

You can get an idea what a smooth working tool ICE is.

Here is the perspective corrected photo with some additional post processing done. Note how nicely the trees on either side were filled in. And of course, there is also a “café art” art version as well.

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck