Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Power of Pixels!

Unfortunately, the parade of posts from our 3-day stay in Mexico comes to an end.  Amazingly, counting the prompt to observe Venus featuring the pic from Puerto Peñasco on 27 December, I squeezed 9 what I think are all pretty good posts from the 1200+ images taken on that trip!  So currently I'm on empty - who knows what will come along for the next post...

I've been having fun the last few months since being turned on to the Microsoft ICE program.  The software (free download!) does an amazing job stitching together random image assemblages to make a mosaic or panorama.  Gigapixel panoramas are quite popular, with several software companies vying for customers.  I paid 99 euros for AutoPano Pro a few years back, but couldn't get a new copy with my old key when my hard disk crashed recently, so I moved to the ICE program, which does what I want for the most part. Of course, the advantage of taking multi-image panoramas is that you retain the native resolution of the lens used for the individual images, but build up a wide-field of view by combining them.  More pixels are good!

While down at Margie's beach below her house, I took a 16-frame panorama with the 70-200 Canon zoom, set to 200mm.  I didn't use a tripod like I should have, but did use a monopod to help steady the telephoto and help in aiming.  All frames were oriented vertically to maximize the vertical extent, and I provided a reasonable 25% overlap between frames for the software to stitch them together.  Very quickly the ICE software slapped them together into the panorama shown at left.  Well, I should clarify - the program made a panorama that was 25,000 pixels wide (108 million pixels!)...  Unfortunately, Blogger limits pictures to 1600 pixels wide, so the image displayed when you click the thumbnail is only about a 20th of the original...

Slightly better is if I limit the downsizing a little and put them side by side as shown here.  You get a better feel at a little larger size.  It is so fun to scroll around the image at full camera resolution.  It is the whole reason to shoot these panoramas with a telephoto lens - keep the resolution of long focal lengths, but build them up for a full wide-field image.  The right image shown just about the only defect in Microsoft ICE's assembly - through no fault of their own, since the waves moved between exposures, there is no way to have a perfect panorama.  There are 2 seams in the image if you load the full-size image.

About the best way to get a feel of what it is like to stroll through the image is to look at a couple full-resolution images.  These pictures are full-size crops from the above panorama, and you can get an idea of what is capable looking at the full image.  Again, realize all these images are from the same 16-frame panorama...  Fun stuff!  I just wish there was a way to better enable you to see the full-size images.  I guess I would need a real web site for that, plus the image would be about 12MB in size too...  Any suggestions, let me know!

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