Photo Editing

Creating a panorama in Paintshop Pro X3

Panoramas are a great way to stretch your creativity, both through composition and all-over picture potential. So, what exactly is a panorama and what special gear is needed to make it?

A panorama is essentially nothing more than a group of pictures joined together, seamlessly, into one wide (or high) picture. Panoramas generally begin with more than two frames but can be constructed from up to 10 or more individual photo elements. How many you use for the panorama is dependent on how much detail is required in the frame. Once the components have been shot, they are stitched together using PaintShop Photo Pro and then the tone is adjusted for maximum picture impact.

STEP 1 Once you’ve made all your exposures, import the lot into the computer, open PaintShop Photo Pro and create a new, blank canvas using the Panorama preset from thePresets pull-down menu in the New Image dialog box  (File > New). It doesn’t matter if it is too large – it can be cropped at a later stage.

STEP 2 Find and open the panorama components.  Copy each one and paste it into the new document as   a new layer (press Ctrl + L). Try to keep the order of pasting the same as the order in which the elements were shot (i.e. left to right or right to left). If your photos are bigger than the canvas they will fill it and you’ll only see the top layer. Either resize them  before copying and pasting or use the Pick tool to resize them.

STEP 3 Choose the layer on which the left-hand panorama segment sits and, using the Move tool, drag it over to the left-hand side of the frame. Choose the second-to-left layer and, after reducing its opacity (in the Layers palette), move its left edge slightly over the right-hand edge of the first frame to get an exact fit. Jiggle the Opacity slider so that you can see through one layer to the layer beneath to make this process easier and then, once it’s in position, return the opacity to 100%. Repeat this process for all remaining panorama components. You may find that some have been shot on a tilt, especially if the panorama camera was hand-held and not mounted on a tripod. If this is the case, use the Pick tool to straighten out the uneven horizon on that particular layer.

STEP 4 Once the entire set of images (components) has been overlapped successfully and all opacities are the same, save the file as a copy by choosing Save Copy As from the File menu or press Ctrl þ F12. In Step 6, you will flatten the layers and the individual images will not be independently editable. If you later discover the images are not properly aligned you can go back to the original master and start from there.

STEP 5 Check that the density and the color values for all layers are the same, otherwise you might find that, even though the exposure was ‘locked off ’ at the shooting stage, some frames are still darker or lighter than others. Use the Color Balance and Histogram Adjustment tools to make these tone corrections if necessary. Choose the Crop tool to cut off the extreme edges of the frame if there’s a noticeable mismatch with the component segments.

STEP 6 Visible seams can be retouched using the Clone Brush or, as here, simply by using the Eraser tool with a soft-edged brush to take the hard edge off the overlapping portion of the upper image layer. Flatten the layers in the copy (Layers>Merge>Merge All {Flatten}). Now you can adjust the global color and contrast values in the panoramato get the entire photo theway you really want it to look. Consider, at this stage, using one of PSP’s darkroom tools to increase (or decrease) the density/color in selected parts of the scene using a brush.

STEP  7 This is the final, cropped, and color-balanced panorama.

Excerpted from PaintShop Photo Pro X3 for Photographers by Ken McMahon© 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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