ICE-2 Distortion and Correction

Originally posted on Café Ludwig:

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.

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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…

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ICE-2 Auto complete

Image Composite Editor – Auto complete

The Microsoft Image Composite Editor has been one of my favorite tools for years. Just a short while back I was lamenting its apparent demise, when, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new version was released. ICE version 2 brings many new features and the tool leaps back into the lead. In this article I will give you a look at one of the new features, “Auto complete”. Other photo editors have had this technology for some time, but I have not seen it working with such ease and quite effectively too.

Here are a couple of photos that I took years ago at Ft. Pulaski, Georgia. The photos were not taken with the idea of stitching them together, but they overlap a good bit – a requirement for ICE.

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You can see that the angle of view also changed between the photos, the left one looks down more. the right photo was taken from a position more to the left. It’s even worse than that. Photo One: Lens focal length setting 62mm, f/4.2, 1/80s, ISO 400. Photo Two: Lens at 55mm, f/4.0, 1/40s, ISO 200. Not the kind of settings, especially focal length, that makes for easy stitching.

ICE-V2-08As is my long-time habit, I use Microsoft Photo Gallery to manage my photos and to do some of the enhancements. When photos are selected in Photo Gallery the CreateMore tools option lists Image Composite Editor with the task Create Image Composite… – This is how it has worked for many years, and happily still does.  What happens, of course, is that ICE is launched and the selected photos are sent right to it.

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Those of you who have used ICE in the past will notice the clean new “modern” look. Accepting the defaults and clicking NEXT presented the result shown here.

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ICE-V2-13You can see that ICE lined up the back edge of the glass shelf reasonably well. There are stitching errors in the middle bottle. The images overlap pretty well. The slightly downward view causes the outside bottles to lean. This is not the best that can be done.

The BACK button allows stepping back. Instead of allowing the Auto-detect “Camera motion”, I selected Rotating motion. The resulting stitch is already better and the Projection option Perspective permits the image to be dragged up and down to adjust the perspective.

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This works like a charm. These two photos overlap nicely and there is not much there to illustrate the Auto complete option.

How about a tougher situation. Here are three photos that were shot at least at the same 22mm focal length setting. Aperture and ISO were the same, f/8 and ISO 100. The shutter speeds, however, were 1/200s, 1/125s, and 1/400s, respectively. Not exactly uniformly exposed. Let’s see how ICE handled these.

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Again I used, Rotating motionPerspective. I dragged the resultant image up for perspective correction and wound up with this:

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The resulting image has huge areas missing at the top and the sides. Can Auto complete come up with something to fill in those areas?

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It did, but the fill of windows at the left is bad, and on the right there is small repetitive detail. I decided to crop left and right as shown.

With some additional post-processing (HDR effect to bring out detail and adjustments of shadows, contrast and color) this is my final result:

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You can see that the tree at lower left is a bit artificial looking, but we got a pretty good photo, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, you get to see what became of the bottle stitch after some additional work in PaintShop Pro. Not a bad photo either. Click on it if you want to see it larger.

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Image Composite Editor, Photo Gallery, Photography, Photos | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Image Composite Editor

Microsoft Image Composite Editor Update

Great News! Microsoft has updated its Image Composite Editor. The new version, 2.0.2, adds many advanced new features and brings the interface up to the current clean look.

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After an agonizingly long four years this marvelous tool steps into the modern world with amazing new capabilities. The new features will be covered in more detail in future posts, this post just wants to get the word out and let you get a copy of this fine tool. The ICE download page is also listed on the Resources page. Here is a short video from the ICE page:

Get more information on the ICE home page: Microsoft Image Composite Editor

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Image Composite Editor, Photography | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tags in OneDrive

Tags are now supported in OneDrive

OneDrive extracts text from photos

For a long time photos uploaded to the former SkyDrive, what is now OneDrive, retained any tags associated with them, but they did not show and were of no use inside the online storage service. Then for a while the tags were shown but not further supported. This has changed. Tags are now prominently featured and supported in OneDrive. As the ads say, “but wait there is more”. Indeed there is an intelligent genie inside OneDrive now that looks at your photos and assigns tags and extracts text. Lest I get too far ahead of my story, let me back up and explain the new tag features in OneDrive from the beginning.

Tags are words or phrases “attached” to a photo file to tell what the photo is about. Tags help organize and find pictures. More formally, tags are “metadata” that becomes part of a file, this information does not show in the picture. The use of metadata goes back a long time. Tags for photo files have been standardized and used for over a decade. In Flickr the large picture archive has been searchable via tags. Because of the metadata standards, tags assigned in Picasa, for example, will show up in Photo Gallery and be useful in Flickr.

Photo Gallery has supported “descriptive” tags all along. It offers an extensive and powerful way to assign tags, and to find photos by those tags. The words or phrases that constitute tags are up to the user. Sure, it helps to use the same tags that are used by others, but you can assign tags in your own, personal way.

Some tags are unique to applications and do not follow the rules of the metadata standards. That is the case for “people” tags in Photo Gallery. “Descriptive” tags assigned in Photo Gallery, however, do play by the same rules as tags in other applications.

OneDrive shows tags that you have assigned before uploading the image as well as newly created tags by OneDrive when you click the “circle-i” icon in the lower right of a picture.

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Some of the tags shown by OneDrive were assigned in Photo Gallery. The newly created tags are, of course, only shown in OneDrive.

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Take a closer look at the tags displayed in OneDrive compared to Photo Gallery:

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OneDrive shows “Animal” and “Bird” which it had added automatically for me. These were not added by me. I did have “bird”, with a lower-case “b’’, and that is also shown in OneDrive. (There are some tags there that you might wonder about. I have been using some “hash-tags” for special searches.)

When you click a tag in Photo Gallery, all photos with that tag will be brought up. That is also the case in OneDrive. Well, it will be. You might get something like this:

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I do have some photos in my OneDrive that were taken in Athens, GA and they are tagged that way, but OneDrive can’t locate them presently. Mind you, OneDrive is still new at this and there are millions and millions of tagged photos out there for many, many users.

Note in the above illustration that there is a Tags link in the menu bar. When you go to your OneDrive you won’t see that until you click Photos in the left navigation pane to take you to your photos area. When you click the Tags link you may see something like this:

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Notice the text: “Add photos to OneDrive and they’ll be automatically tagged for you to view here. You can also add your own tags to photos to help you find them.” – I added the emphasis.  Yes, OneDrive will “inspect” the photos, decide what they show and add tags. In my OneDrive it added “People”, Outdoors”, Animal”, “Text”, “Fire”, “Building”, “Watch”, “Car”, Wheel”, “Bus”, “Crowd”, and many others.

Of course, I had to run some tests. Overall it did surprisingly well! Here is one of my test groups:

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For my first selfie OneDrive added the tags #People and #Portrait, to use the OneDrive nomenclature. The second selfie, a very graphic black-and-white image it did not tag.

OneDrive-Tags-15The car wheel got #Wheel added, but not car. Elsewhere it correctly found car photos. The close-up of the watch face was tagged #Watch, but the other photo containing the same watch was not labeled. It did not confuse the coaster photos and did not tag them although these could be mistaken as clock faces. OneDrive did make one amusing mistake. A photo of an ornament came up tagged #Watch. It does look like an old-fashioned pocket watch case. Who would have thought that OneDrive knows about those.

The graphic of the little house got #Building and #Outdoors but it was not tagged “house”. The eagle etching did not get tagged.

Now for the most interesting part. There are two photos showing text entry menu displays on a couple of cameras. These where tagged #Text and #Sign. In addition most of the text was correctly extracted as you can see here:

OneDrive-Tags-14

Individual symbols, numerals, and letters it ignored, but other text was correctly identified. It struggled some with the input icon and the OK symbol, but I was impressed. It did less well with the other photo, skipping the word “Input” and parts of the black text. The last photo, my “personalized” camera function dial, did not get the “text” or “sign” tags, but my name was correctly extracted.

OneDrive may not be quite there yet in the little details and some of the searches, but the ability to search by tags and text inside photos makes it potentially very useful in managing photos.

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

Posted in OneDrive, Photos, Searching | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Resource Page Update

With so many of my readers eager to try out the Windows 10 Technical Preview, it helps to have programs and features that work and are really useful. The Resource page has been checked and updated to show the current versions of the tools. Some Microsoft tools are no longer available from Microsoft and a couple of the links no longer work.

The easiest way to test the “preview” operating system is to install it in a virtual machine. VMware Player has been updated and offers Windows 10 as one of the OS options. The Resource page has a link to the VMware Player download page.

Of course, you need the Windows 10 Technical Preview ISO file in order to install and test it. You can download it from this page:

Download Windows 10 Technical Preview ISO

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.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

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OneDrive Albums

Ludwig:

As seen at Cafe Ludwig

Originally posted on Café Ludwig:

Albums are back!

Way back when Microsoft had Spaces and Live the online folders for photos were called “albums”. In time the online store became SkyDrive and the term “album” vanished. What persisted and still exists in OneDrive is “Folder type”. Folders can be either “Document” or “Pictures” folders. Other than that folders are treated just like folders in a PC.

Now “Albums” are back. First a look at what an album appears like:

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As you can see, an album looks quite nice. Reminiscent of Flickr and Google+? Yep, it helps to have competition. Albums are not folders. Like Flickr albums, the OneDrive albums are collections of links to photos elsewhere. For OneDrive albums the photos need to exist in one of the folders. The linked images are nicely displayed.

How do you get to albums and how do you make a OneDrive album?

When you go to your OneDrive…

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Windows 10 Cortana

Cortana on the Desktop

I have a new friend! In the Windows 10 Technical Preview Cortana is now a feature on the desktop.

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She talks and responds in writing. But most importantly she responds to spoken questions. She does confine herself to a panel above the search box on the taskbar. The panel is reminiscent of the looks of a smart phone. Cortana does not work on my Windows Phone, a Lumia 900 which I got way,way back and can’t run the current phone Windows.

Cortana-10But back to the desktop. Cortana introduced herself as you can see in the illustration above. The response button is rather hard to read. Hey, Microsoft, black text on dark blue doesn’t work well at all! Clicking Allow brought up a short dialog between the two of us.

Actually, Cortana pronounced my name the first time as well or better than many of my friends and colleagues do. Trying to improve on the pronunciation, I followed the instructions. Shortly I got this response:

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The interesting part here is the reference to “Notebook”. With each version of Windows there have been new names of features to learn. There were “Charms” and other things not so long ago. This was new to me, but clicking – I still do that, tapping will come when I have a touch monitor – the Windows icon brought this up, the new Start menu:

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The “Settings” option was right there near the top. That detour went fine. Cortana and I are on a first name basis. However, that was not really what was meant by “Notebook”, I will get back to that in just a bit.

Here is something very interesting: I have two Windows 10 test machines, both virtual machines. When I set up Cortana in the second machine, she remembered the questions I had asked her in the first machine. Nice!

Now back to that “Notebook” reference. There is a “hamburger” icon in the upper left of the Cortana dialog panel, the new symbol for “menu”. That link gets to the settings and other things.

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Cortana diligently responds to “hey Cortana”, but does not always answer my next request. There is a bit of a learning curve, but this speech input search method is a nice new feature.

That’s it for now. I need to spend some time with my new friend.

.:.

© 2015 Ludwig Keck

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