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:

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With cropping and some enhancing my panorama looked like this:

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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

Nikon NEF Codec and Photo Gallery

Microsoft Live Photo Gallery is a most useful and versatile tool for managing your photos. I have used it enthusiastically for many years. Like other photo handling programs, it needs to translate the image files to viewable images. For photos stored in the camera manufacturer’s RAW file format it needs a “codec” to do the translation. Microsoft provides the “Microsoft Camera Codec Pack” for use with Windows 7 (and earlier). That works well but does not allow appending or changing the file properties, “EXIF” data, for the RAW files. My recommendation has been to use the manufacturer’s codec instead, and for Nikon users that is the “Nikon NEF Codec”. That has worked well for me in the past. It allows adding meta data, such as comments or tags, to the RAW files, “NEF” extension files, and does all other things well.

Some months back I noticed that there were problems with files coming from Nikon D800 cameras, I did not check with files from other Nikon cameras. Since then Nikon has updated the codec a couple of times, for the D810 and more recently for the D750. Unfortunately the problems have persisted.

What happens is that any NEF photo files that have tags or other metadata added get hopelessly mangled in Photo Gallery when they are changed to JPG format. Here is what thumbnails look like:

WL-thumbnails-NC-1

Viewed large they look the same. Take one of those files to another application and it either looks the same or even more psychedelic like here:

WL-thumbnails-NC-2

Files that did not have metadata changed work perfectly well. There are probably all sorts of other conditions under which all is well. I have not explored the possibilities.

Since adding metadata was my objective for using the Nikon codec in the first place, not being able to do so successfully defeats the use. Nikon is aware of problems with Photo Gallery and says so in their release notes. I just wish they would fix the problems.

This article is also published on my This ‘n That blog.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Museum Photography 2

Visit to the Delta Flight Museum

Delta Airlines recently opened the Delta Flight Museum to the public. The museum is located in two historic hangars, now on the Delta Airline corporate campus. A most interesting place to visit. My visit there also provided me with some additional thoughts and tips on museum photography to go along with my earlier article, Museum Photography.

The Delta Flight Museum is housed in two connected maintenance hangars dating from the 1940s. These historic hangars are now located on the Delta corporate campus adjoining the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. When you visit, be prepared to show ids at the security gate.

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Two historic aircraft maintenance hangers house the Delta Flight Museum
This very wide-angle photo is stitched together from two smartphone photos

Unlike most museum artifact, aircraft are rather large. This makes getting them into pictures difficult unless you have a very wide-angle lens. I stitch photos together. Photo Gallery does a fine job of that. Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) does a superb job. I use both. ICE is especially handy when some perspective correction also needs to be done.

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Delta’s first 767 aircraft is now a museum inside the museum 

The largest item inside the museum is a Boing 767 aircraft. LJK13046-P4-2000Inside the rear portion has been converted into an exhibit area with display cases along the sides.

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LJK13055-Q4-2000

The Spirit of Delta – Boing 767 aircraft purchased for Delta by its employees, retirees, and friends in the financially difficult times in 1982.

A number of items, like luggage carts, have been turned into display cases and there are numerous interactive displays giving information about the artifacts and the history of flight.

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LJK13048-P3-1600

The Delta Flight Museum, like other museums, is illuminated for a pleasant experince by visitors not for cameras. The light requires high ISO settings and the techniques of noise reduction described in the earlier article. The high contrast range, illustrated here by the view into the “business end” of an aircraft engine and the cockpit, requires HDR processing. That technique was also covered in the prior post. For the images here I used primarily the “shadows” slider in Photo Gallery and the HDR effect in onOne Perfect Effects 8.

The many historical items take the visitor back to the early days of Delta, indeed to the early days of passenger flight. There are many interesting artifacts like the early “amenity kit”. Yes, indeed, there was a time when smoking was common in airplanes.

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Early day customer being assisted in boarding flight.
Tableau at the Delta Flight Museum.
Atlanta, Georgia

When we look at what flying was like some 85 years ago when Delta got started in the passenger business, we smile at how plain and  simple it all was. The equipment was outright crude, and so was the merchandising and the service.

LJK13025-P4-2000

LJK13028-P3-2000

Even I remember those simple days of flying. On my first flight on a DC-3 when we arrived at our destination the pilot hopped out, unlocked the door to the terminal and came back and unloaded the luggage. The Delta Flight Museum has the first Delta DC-3, now beautifully restored.

Douglas DC-3 aircraft at the Delta Flight Museum

Douglas DC-3 aircraft at the Delta Flight Museum

Of course, I couldn’t resist this opportunity for a “selfie” in the polished metal of the DC-3.

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The Delta Flight Museum is still a work in progress. There are several aircraft outside the hangars that have not (yet) been integrated into the museum experience for visitors. Photography is permitted “for personal use”. There is a museum shop, of course. Be sure to pick up a memento there.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

The Runt

The Runt of the Take

The day was a pretty good one for me, 102 photos. There is still that old “Kodachrome habit” in me – be frugal with exposures and make every one count. So this was a lot of exposures for me. Of course, it was a special day, a trip the the Botanical Garden of Georgia, in Athens, Georgia, U.S.A. There is always a lot to enjoy there and it is a gorgeous and rich environment for photography.

But back to the subject: Runt – smallest, weakest, least likely to succeed. Every “take” of photos has these, some get thrown out without another thought, some just form the detritus in the archives. Every so often I take another look and ask myself, “is there something in that photo?”

The “subject of this post” is one of those “runts”. Sometimes I do a lot of fancy processing, sometimes I take them into “art effects” tools, sometimes, when I have time on my hands, I try all of these.

OK, here is one of the results. I post this first so it will show in the links to this post in the various social places. If I showed the original first, you, my dear reader would most likely have passed it by.

Opium Poppy

This is a photo of an opium poppy from the International Gardens. This one taken from the side, slightly below the flower. I liked the light on it at the time. The result didn’t impress me nearly as much. So it landed in my “make art of this” corner when I came around to it.

I needed to run some tests on the latest improvements to Windows 8.1. I have it in a VMware virtual machine. Drag and drop works beautifully in this system. I opened Microsoft Word 13 in the guest machine and dragged over the thumbnail from Photo Gallery that I had open in the host system. A bit of manipulation and I had a pleasant image. Yes, the Photo Tools work nicely in the current version of Microsoft Office.

Opium Poppy

Then I took the image into PaintShop Pro to work on it. After some of my ideas did not work well, I wondered if maybe a black and white version could bring out the lively, light, and vibrant aspects of this blossom. Making a B&W of such rich and intense red seemed like sacrilege unless I could retain the feeling of purity of the color. I decided that “purity” is best evoked by white, so I used full red filtration for the conversion and make it into a high key image. Some sharpening and a bit of contrast adjustment and I was satisfied that I was doing justice to the flower.

Opium Poppy

Opium PoppyThe images above are three of my attempts to give this runt of a photo a chance. I guess I would be amiss if I did not show what I was starting with. The original photo here is shown smaller than the others to allow it cower shyly in the corner. It gets its chance of limelight in the costumes of “artistic effects” above.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck