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

Sharing large images with Photosynth and

Panoramas and other large images can look puny in online photo sharing sites, blogs, and social websites. Two services can provide impressive views even of the largest images.

Photosynth provides a three dimensional simulation, and a flat presentation that can be zoomed. Here is a demonstration of a vertical panorama in both services.


Sweetgum Tree Awaiting Spring

Click the images to see the expanded photo in Photosynth and

Now for a quick review on how to generate a panorama for sharing in Photosynth.

There are two was of creating a Photosynth. For a smooth, three-dimensional appearing version the image is first prepared in ICE – Microsoft Image Composite Editor.

Overlapping images of the scene are loaded into ICE. The photos should overlap about a quarter or more, they can be made hand-held, ICE is pretty smart at stitching them together.   The photos must be taken from the same position in a rotating motion.

ICE assembles them and offers two “export” options. For Photosynth select “Publish to Web…” This will call the Photosynth program which then takes over and completes the task.


The second method produces a “classic” Photosynth and the overlapping photos are sent directly to the Photosynth program.

Both the Photosynth and the ICE program imagecan be called directly from Photo Gallery. Just select the thumbnails, click the Create tab, click More Tools… and select the program. Oh, yeah, of course, you have to have these programs installed on your PC. They are free and easy to get – from the same menu in Photo Gallery, see the illustration here.


For the version the image is exported from ICE to the PC by selecting “Export to disk…” Note the cropping outline in ICE. The image can be cropped before exporting to the PC. That is what I have done for the demonstration image here. needs an online image to work with, so just upload the large panorama to you SkyDrive and get the image URL from there for use in Make sure that the upload resizing option is not set to resize the photo.

Once you have the image URL (from the address bar when View original is selected), go to and load the URL into the entry field there.


Click the image to see the “classic” Photosynth way of showing overlapping photos.


© 2012 Ludwig Keck


More than a stitch

Assembling panoramas with Photo Gallery

There was a time when panoramic pictures were laboriously assembled with straightedges and knives and sticky tape. Then came photo editing software did not do much more than help you align the edges. But all that was long ago, it is amazing what today’s tools can do. The one I reach for first is Photo Gallery. It is impressive to see how well it works.

There is a favorite barn that I like photographing under various light and in different seasons. Walking by recently, I thought I would see how wide a picture I can get with my smartphone. The 24mm equivalent wide angle was not wide enough. So I also took a shot toward each end. Before I show you my originals, here is the uncropped result from Photo Gallery.


Photo Gallery warps the images, matches and blends them together. For those who are interested in the math and science, here is some if the metadata Photo Gallery writes into the resulting image file.


What is not at all obvious from the picture above, is that the individual photos did not match in exposure. Take a look.




Digital Pictures Basics - 2012No corrections were made to the images before submitting them to the panorama tool in Photo Gallery. The left shot was more than a stop underexposed compared to the others. That was no problem for Photo Gallery.


In all fairness I must admit to being a big fan of Windows Photo Gallery. Enough so that I have written my second book about it.

You just might like to take a look.



© 2012 Ludwig Keck


Perspective correction for panoramas

Sometimes you want more in a photo than the widest zoom setting can provide and there is no way to back up to get more of the scene into the frame. Taking several overlapping shots and combining them as a panorama is an often used answer to that problem. But this procedure introduces problems of its own. Let me illustrate: I have three photos of the front of a restaurant and I want to combine them into a single picture.

Café Café Café

The photos were taken from the same spot – that is important. I hand-held the camera and the pictures don’t match very well. Yes, even the exposures don’t seem to match – that, dear reader, is to illustrate the power of Live Photo Gallery and more, but let us not get ahead of the story.

Live Photo Gallery offers a panorama tool on the Create tab. This quickly produces a well-stitched combined picture. It even matches the exposures properly.


Alas, the result looks way to much like a “fish-eye” picture. The curved roof line and sidewalk just don’t seem natural and right.image

Microsoft Image Composite Editor, “ICE”, to the rescue.

If you do not have ICE installed, you can obtain ICE from the Microsoft Image Composite Editor download site.

With ICE installed, it will show up in Live Photo Gallery, in the Create tab under More tools.

Select the thumbnails of the images to be combined and click Create > More tools > Create Image Composite. ICE will open and show a composite pretty much as you would get in Photo Gallery.

Click the little cube in the menu bar. An additional control will come up “Projections”. Click that and click Perspective in the drop-down menu. The illustration here shows that.


You can adjust the image by dragging it up and down or right and left. For buildings the primary objective should be to get vertical features to be vertical and not sloped in or out. I usually like a little bit of under-correction – it seems more real to me.

You will not be able to make a complete correction of all features, but the image will be much improved.

Click Apply. After the image is updated you can drag the crop lines to fit the picture.


In the “Export” area you can select the image file type. For most uses that is “JPEG Image”. You can adjust the JPG image quality (default is 80%). There is a “Scale” box that permits scaling the image down. The the final image size is also shown in that area.

The last step is to click Export to disk (lower right) and to step through the file location selection.


There you are, a nicely stitched picture, even the uneven exposures were automatically corrected. Is this not a much more satisfying picture?


© 2012 Ludwig Keck