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.
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.
As 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 Create – More 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.
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.
You 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.
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.
Again I used, Rotating motion – Perspective. I dragged the resultant image up for perspective correction and wound up with this:
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?
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:
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