Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG) has offered a “Create Panorama” all along. With Image Composite Editor (ICE) there is a great deal of control that makes creating large composites very easy. The latest addition to the panorama scene is Microsoft Live Labs’ Zoom.It for very nice and effective presentation and viewing. This post is more of a how-to than just a story about these services. First a little review. A panorama is a picture that shows a large field of a scene, more often than not a wide scene that covers a large angular field. Panoramas are normally made by combining a number of individual photos. Let me demonstrate. My budget for this post was not enough for a trip to Yosemite, besides, the folks at Live Labs already posted a magnificent example from there. Yes, you want to see it, I know, I will show it to you later.
Back to my example. Here is a large shopping mall, I will use it for the demonstration. It may not be obvious at first glance, but this view is over 100 degrees wide. That is wider than my camera can cover. So to make a panorama I take a number of shots, being careful to get a good deal of overlap from one photo to the next.
Once upon a time it was mandatory to use a tripod with a pan head (i.e. expensive swivel mount) and to work meticulously and precisely. Photo Gallery and ICE are masters at making corrections for inaccuracies, so photos for panoramas can be made with hand-holding the camera. It is still a very good idea to stand in one spot, turning to take the series of exposures. If there are objects fairly close by it is also important to not lean forward or back in making the shots.
So here is my series of photos.
Well, as you can (barely) see, I was not particularly careful about pointing the camera, nor are the photos carefully shot in sequential order. That is because I know that Photo Gallery and ICE will masterfully overlook my foibles and clean up after me.
In Photo Gallery I just select the thumbnails and click Create – Panorama. Moments later I provide a file name and storage location and my panorama is done.
I did not crop this picture so you can see how badly I aimed the camera for the separate shots, and how well Photo Gallery combined the individual photos into the composite panorama.
To correct for the slanting and diverging pillars, Image Composite Editor is my preferred way of combining photos into composites. Just a couple of screen shots of ICE in action.
ICE provides perspective corrections and allows continuous control – very nice. This is something you must try for yourself. Before saving the resulting panorama, ICE allows cropping the picture. Here again I did not apply cropping yo better illustrate how the individual photos were manipulated to achieve the final result.
Notice that the pillars are now all vertical, but the individual photos were stretched and reshaped to achieve the correct geometry.
Alright, panoramas are in hand – what next? The next step is to upload the panoramas to my SkyDrive. That is also a very easy process: Start Internet Explorer – go to live.com, this gets me to my Spaces home page, normally I do not even have to log in as IE remembers me – click Photos along the top – go to the desired (public!) album – click Add photos – then just drag over the thumbnails from Photo Gallery. Since panorama files are quite large, some of mine over 25 MB, it takes a while for the files to be uploaded.
So the panorama picture are in the SkyDrive photo album. You can see them there readily enough. But there is a neater way to view large images, that is the Zoom.It tool from Live Labs.
You can click on the Zoom.It name to bring it up. There it offers “Create your own”.
To create your own Zoom.It you need the web address of your panorama picture file. This is just a bit more complicated than it should be. Log back to your photo album on the SkyDrive. (If you are still logged in from the upload, close the browser, restart IE, and log back in, otherwise you might get a temporary working address of the photo, and not the permanent web address). Click the thumbnail – NOTE: for very large files, like panorama pictures, there will not really be a thumbnail, instead it will look as shown on the right. The next view, which normally shows a picture together with data on the right, will also show a generic icon. The web address on the right is not what is needed, this address is for the current web page. Instead click on the icon (or picture). The picture will be shown full size (it will resize so it fits in the browser window). The address of the panorama is now in the browser address bar, you can copy it with Ctrl-C (you can also get it this way: right-click on the picture, select Properties and copy the address).
Now you have the panorama web address and you can enter it in the field at Zoom.It. Zoom.It converts the file and presents you with your own panorama web address. Be sure to copy this address and write it down. Otherwise you will not be able to get to your panorama!
Here once more the panorama produced by Windows Live Gallery. Click on it to see the Zoom.It display. Oh, if you have not yet already done so, click on the first picture in this blog for the Zoom.It version of the full shopping mall.
And that magnificent panorama of Yosemite? If you haven’t found it already, click on the Zoom.It image above, you will find it among the panorama links on that page. Enjoy!
Please also visit my blog on “things photographic”: Café Ludwig