Those among us who call ourselves avid photographers (but mostly without the kind of camera those avid photographers use) have surely come across a vast scenery stretching as far as the eye can see in front of us, and quickly take our (mostly) point-and-shoot camera and get ready to capture that scenery. How disappointed are we when only a small portion of the scenery shows up on our consumer camera LCD screen, where all the glory of that very view of the scenery that had us captivated is lost. Oh yes, I know that feeling.
Professional photographers use a wide angle lens to capture that wide panoramic view. However, to use wide angle lens you need to have a (Digital) Single Lens Reflex ([D]SLR) camera, the kind of camera with which you can switch the lenses you use. But that kind of camera costs thousands of Ringgit, and usually it does not come with a wide angle lens. To buy the wide angle lens would cost you another hundreds of Ringgit, if not thousands. Even though there is a conversion lens so that we can use wide-angle lens on our standard point-and-shoot camera, that too costs somewhere in the hundreds. So, is there any possible way for us to capture that wide scenery using just our standard sub-thousand Ringgit point-and-shoot camera?
Fortunately for us, there is. It’s called stitching (yes, stitching), and in this post I’m gonna teach you how.
To do photo stitching, you’re gonna need two things: a camera and a photo-stitching software. You won’t have a problem getting a camera, I believe, but I doubt you have that photo-stitching software. The one I am going to use here is the ArcSoft Panorama Maker 4. Try to get the original software from your nearest software shop. If you cannot find the software at the shops, go here: http://xinio.info/?http://rapidshare.com/files/48165636/ArcSoft_PanoramaMaker4Pro_engfull.rar. Install the software.
Now, let’s get down to our photo-stitching process. For this tutorial, I’m going to use the photos I’ve taken during my recent trip to Niah Cave.
1. The basic concept of photo stitching is to first capture a series of photo and later stitch them together using a software. To make things easy and simple, you have to capture several photos of the scenery you want to take from left to right.
2. Notice in the diagram above that the individual pictures are overlapping, that is part of the right-hand side of the first picture is also in the left-hand side of the second picture (notice that the house is in both the fourth picture and the fifth picture). This is very important, or the software will not be able to stitch the photos later.
3. Another tips to ensure smooth and seamless stitching is to make sure that you take the pictures in a straight line, that is, move your camera only from the left to the right, and try to make sure you don’t move it up or down. Try this now. Take a series of picture from left to right of your living room, for example.
4. Now that we have our pictures to stitch, let’s open up our software.
At the left-hand side of the software is the folder explorer, where you find your pictures. The right-hand side is the preview area, where thumbnails of the pictures inside the folder selected in the folder explorer are shown. Right below the preview area there’s an option under the heading “Stitch as:”. Since we have taken our pictures horizontally from left to right just now, we’ll set this as “Horizontal”. Leave the “Output size” to “Original size” for maximum quality.
5. Now in the folder explorer, select the folder in which the pictures you have captured just now are in. Then, tick the checkbox on the pictures that you wish to stitch together. When you’re done, click “Next’.
6. The next screen is where you need to arrange the pictures in the right order. If you captured the pictures you want to stitch from left to right (like I told you), the pictures should already be in the right order. If somehow you did not take the pictures from left to right (being the stubborn person that you are), make sure you arrange them in the right order at this point. Wrong order or discontinuity will cause the stitching process to fail. When you’re done, click “Stitch”.
7. Now wait until the stitching process is done. The more pictures you are stitching together, the longer it will take to finish.
8. When the software is done stitching the photos, the next screen will allow you to view the results and make adjustments (if necessary). When you’re satisfied, click “Save”.
9. That’s it, you’re done! Note that the software has other functions not described here. For example, you can also stitch photos that you take vertically instead of horizontally, or even make a 360 degree view of your room. I would not be covering these other slightly more advanced techniques. Go discover them yourself. I did.
10. Remember that the stitching process may not always be smooth and succesful. It depends on how well you capture the pictures that you want to stitch. Fortunately, the software has great tips on how to take excellent pictures to be stitched. Just click on Help > How to Shoot Photos for Great Looking Panoramas. Those tips are really useful.
That’s all. If you’re stuck and need help, just post a comment here on this post and I’ll try to help. And do try out and discover other useful features of the software. Good luck!