Agnes Caruso Photography

Photography


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Hugin – your panorama maker!

Creating panoramic images is not a trivial thing and learning how to do it well is not easy. There are many different solutions, some require special lenses, others are software based. Wide angle lenses have been in many photographers’ bags for decades. They allow to take a panoramic photograph ready to print once downloaded. However, many photographers do not have one of those and majority of amateurs do not have one either.

So what can they do? Taking a series of images partly overlapping is the solution, even photos taken with a wide angle lens can be stitched together. Such series of images has to be then processed to create one single image. This is done with a software tool. One of the best tools I have used for this purpose is hugin software. I do not remember when I started using it but it was still on my old MacBook Pro. Now I use it on Windows 10 platform. It allows you to stitch horizontal and vertical panoramas, adjust their sizes and composition.

The user interface is available on three different levels: simple, advanced and expert. You can also switch between the interfaces as I frequently do while running the program.

I have seen opinions that the software is not great for beginners but I did not find it difficult at all to use. The user interface is not what many people are used to and may seem complicated or difficult but it really is very easy to use. Help content is great and can guide you through all the aspects of creating a panorama.

How to create a panorama?

  • Export your images in jpeg format from Adobe Lightroom or another program. Additionally, I save my images for making panoramas in a separate folder to make them easy to find.
  • Load your images and simple interface is the easiest way to get this done, especially when you are starting with the software.
  • Order of images does not really matter for most part but I like keeping them in a direction from left to right. The first image you import will be called anchor image to which the next one will be compared, so the best practice is to have one of the edge images (left or right) as anchor ones. You can change the anchor image after import but that is an extra step.

  • The next step is to let the software align your images, if there is a good overlap between them, using ALIGN function directly in the simple interface is going to do the trick. You can also select the type of lens you are using or projection you want to use but it is not critical to do it at this stage. You can also inspect the connection points between images, seen in the lower image as colored squares with numbers. If you need to manually assign connection points it will take a little bit of time and effort. I had very few images which needed this kind of adjustment. If there is an alignment problem check how the software is aligning the images.
  • Once the panorama was created, canvas size can be adjusted and an image can be cropped. I usually adjust it to an optimal size, but you can choose any size. Composition can be additionally altered using golden ratio, rule of thirds or diagonals, seen as very light yellow lines in the bottom image of the bridge panorama.

  • Each time you create a panorama, software will save a project which can be later re-opened in hugin software.
  • If you continue working then with a second image set, you will need to remove the current images from the project and add new ones. However, when the software saves the new project you need to check the file name as it tends to save it with the same file name as the previous one.
  • Most panoramas we create are usually horizontal and if you are attempting to do a vertical one, there will be a need to adjust the mode for matching points from normal to vertical. You can see a vertical panorama of Hallgrimskirkja.

Images created can be used directly or can be imported into another software for some additional processing. hugin is a great little software that does a perfect job. Obviously if there are no adequate overlap points it may struggle to join images and you may need to edit points by hand.

One thing that you need to remember is that if your images have very different light the final panorama might look strange. One solution I found was to actually ensure the correct exposure when taking pictures. It is by far the best way to get matching or gradient images. Light adjustment in software like Adobe Lightroom is a much less preferable solution as it can create artifacts and unnatural effects across the panorama. And if you want to make changes to the whole image, it is best to do them once you created and imported panorama back into Adobe Lightroom.

 


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Changing background in a collage

Today I got an interesting question from Julie in WA state. How to change a background color in a collage in Corel PaintShop Pro 2018? My immediate response was, I have to check this out. I remember trying to do it and not succeeding very well. However, when you have to find an answer you tend to do so. So below are two options of changing background in a collage you created. First one, adding an image as your background and second modifying color and/or texture of the background.

Before you can start editing backgrounds, make sure that once you have created your collage it has been saved in .PSPIMAGE file format. This let’s you go back and re-edit your creation.

Step 1. Create your background, by selecting File > New. As I said on the previous post I like my background larger rather than smaller as you can always crop your image at the end. My standard size is 20.833 by 14 inches. There is no good reasoning behind it, in case you ask. Make it what you like it to be but keep it larger rather than smaller.

Step 2. Create your collage

Step 3. Each image you add will be a new layer. In this case right now you have 6 layers.

Step 4. Now if you want to use another image as your background, because white is boring or you have a picture which you desperately want to use as your background, click on Manage tab. Find the image you want to use, click on it to highlight it and then select Edit Tab.

Step 5. Image will open up, you can make changes to it at this stage if you want or need. Once you are happy with the way it looks, select all, copy and then paste to your collage.

Step 6. Now you have 7 layers and it all looks ugly and you lost one or more of your images underneath. In order to be able to see all the images, make sure that the new layer is moved to just above the background layer we created in step 1.

Step 7. In Layer Menu, select New Adjustment Layer. You need to pick what adjustments you want to make to your background image. I selected Brightness/Contrast. If you right click on adjustment layer you can adjust brightness and contrast to your liking. If you select General Tab you can also adjust the background image in other ways by selecting more actions from the drop down menu as well as change opacity. This is all up to your creativity.

Step 8. It is important to make sure that your layers are ordered properly at this stage. So counting from the bottom you should have your layer 1 (large background), image layer that you wish to use as background and adjustment layer. All other images have to be above or you will end up modifying them as well.

Step 9. You can also change the image that is your background by deleting the layer and adding a new image as new layer.

 

Now if you want to use a solid background, you can add a new New Art Media Layer. This will allow you to ad solid color fill of your choice or paint texture of your choice in any color available. Here is how you do just that.

Step 1.  You have your collage as below.

Step 2. Now in the Menu select Layer and pick a New Art Media Layer. This will allow you to pick a texture or a fill color.

Step 3. Texture has to be painted on either using a dry medium such as chalk or wet such as oil brush. Corel help is actually pretty handy here to guide you through the process. However, main thing is to experiment with different effects till you find what you want. Again, make sure that all the images of interest are above Artistic Medium Layer or you will make changes to them.

Try either of the two options or both of them and pick what you like. This is just a start, the effects can be pretty stunning if you focus on the artistic side of things. I would love to see what creations come out of this work, so post your comments with links to images. Have fun!


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Creative image manipulation

I love to take pictures and then play with them in an image editing software to create something unusual. Some are just great to look at while offering a different, yet natural view. While others can appear a little unusual. You can create repeating images or mirror images of your original. You can also add vignetting to make them disappear at the edges

This is an original image of a flowering tree on a background of tree trunk and water. It might not be a super interesting image by itself, it becomes something very different once you manipulated it in editing software. There are many ways you can alter an original and as you see the effect can be quite dramatic when you create a mirror image of the original.

 

This is a mirror image of the original photo above. You do not have to stop here. This can be further altered to create a much more abstract image. However, I stopped right at this step, feeling that this is what I would like to see.

 

Nature images like the ones above can still be recognized what they represent. However, more interesting are images of much more abstract objects. Flashing lights, for example, can create stunning tile like images, which can be used as stencils, decorative patterns or just pictures to hang on a wall.

This original image of lights on a ceiling was pretty interesting. It was shot with a camera set on a tripod at ISO1600, 85mm, f/2.8 and 1/80sec with a Canon EOS 5D mark III and EF85mm f/1.8 USM lens.

I was curious as to what effects I can create from this image. As you can see below, there were quite a few interesting outcomes.

 

Abstract mosaic

The image in the upper left corner is the original one. I used Corel PaintShop Pro X8 to create the other effects.

You can just imagine that by manipulating the original image one can create patterns that can be then used a tile, quilt or embroidery designs. The images here are just a few that can be created, there are many more that you can have at the end .

I found this very different but just as creative as taking the original images. For those of you who want to get some more technical information, it will be coming up in one of the next blogs.

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