Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Camera Raw offer two powerful tools—HDR and Photomerge—for combining images into a sum greater than their parts
Like HDR, Photomerge works like magic! Check out this image of my house, which looks like a panoramic photograph taken with an expensive panorama camera. In actuality, the image is a combination of four images taken with my full-frame digital SLR.
What's truly amazing is that I didn't use a tripod, didn't accurately and evenly overlap the photographs and didn't keep the exposure constant for the four images—techniques that used to be required in previous versions of Photomerge and in most panorama stitching programs. Basically, I shot on the P (Program) mode and took four pictures in an arch, knowing that Photomerge would magically stitch the images together seamlessly!
And speaking of seamlessly, in the past, a stitched panorama of a landscape or seascape would have been easier to create than a scene like this one, with many vertical lines that could "fool" a stitching program and create noticeable joint points. Notice that you can't see where the images are joined. How cool is that?
Above are the four point-and-shoot images. Again, I took them knowing that Photoshop's Photomerge feature would work perfectly, which is why I didn't have to work too hard on the images for my panorama.
You find Photomerge by going to File > Automatic > Photomerge. Once there, you simply browse your computer for the images you want to stitch together, select your Layout and press OK. In a matter of seconds, you have a beautiful panorama—well, almost.
When your photographs are stitched together, you'll get an image that looks something like this one. There are several ways to eliminate those unwanted areas (the background layer). The easiest way is to use the Crop tool and crop them out. Another technique is to select the entire image (Select > All) and then use the Transform/Warp feature (Edit > Transform > Warp) and pull out the anchor points until you're pleased with your crop. You also can use the Warp feature, as I did, to correct some distortion, which can happen, as it did in my panorama, when using a very wide-angle lens, a 17mm lens in this case.
For those of you who are interested in seeing what's going on behind the scenes in Photomerge, here are two screen grabs. In the Layers palette screen grab, you see the four layers, complete with layer masks; the black area is the area masked out. In the History palette screen grab, you see the 17-step process for my four-picture pano—magically activated with a click of a mouse!
Summing up, when you're photographing a high-contrast scene or when you want to make a panoramic photograph, envision how Photoshop, HDR or Photomerge can help you achieve your goal-quickly and easily.
To view more of Rick Sammon's photography, visit his website at .