365

Hello IggleBugs! The 150 days achievement code is now live, so if you’ve taken photos for 150 days in a row, message me and I’ll give you the code! The following milestones will be 200, 250, 300, then 365. Each one will be worth one more karma than the one preceding it.

Tweet @IggleBugs for the 7, 30, and 60 day, and 100 day achievement codes if you need them! You don’t have to upload the pics in a row, but at least make sure you’re taking one every day.  You’ll also find another code in the forums.

For anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on here, if you haven’t checked out the IggleBugs lately, you should swing by and have a look at our Photo 365 Challenge thread in the IggleBugs Forum! Join us if you’re looking for a fun photographic challenge for 2014! You don’t need a fancy camera or anything, just a passion for taking pictures! Upload and share however you want, if you want. It’s entirely up to you! The best part about it is you can make your day one whenever you want! So feel free to jump in late, we won’t bite!

I will post seven themes and ideas a week as we go through the year. They won’t be strict assignments, just helpful ideas to get you through the week if you get stuck or feel like you need some inspiration.

Here is the list of helpful ideas for week twenty-three!

IggleBugsWeek23

Now it’s time for Photography 101! I’m going to show you how to make a panoramic photo without using your smartphone camera or any sort of in-camera software. This is something you can do with any type of camera, though having a camera with manual controls that allow you to lock the exposure and focus can help.

Why bother when an iPhone can take a panorama? Well, what if you want to take a complete 360 degree panorama? The iPhone only does a certain amount. What if you want to take a picture, stop and move something, then take another? Also, what if you want to have a nice, high resolution photo? Smartphones and cameras compress the image file so it’s smaller and easier to use and share. Also, shooting your own panorama allows you to do things more creatively.

First, you’ll need software to stitch your panorama. I use a wonderful and FREE program called Hugin. It’s Mac and PC compatible and works quite well. I’m going to be showing all of this to you on a Mac, so if you’re on a PC, it might look a tad different, but should work the same. So go ahead and download it here.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Hugin, you’ll need a group of pictures to work with. Taking pictures for a panorama is easier than you think, but I have some tips that might make things a little easier later on when you’re stitching your photos:

  • If you have a camera that allows you to lock the focus and exposure, you will have better luck getting a good panorama if you do both of those. If not, you still can get a panorama, but your exposure or focus might not be consistent throughout the image, it just depends on the situation and what you were shooting. Sometimes Hugin can fix this.
  • Make sure to take your photos with some overlap. If you don’t overlap from one photo to the next, you’ll have pieces missing from your panorama and the stitcher might not be able to work correctly.
  • You don’t have to use a tripod, but if you have trouble keeping the camera level as you take your pictures, try using one. Keeping it level as you pan across is important.
  • I usually will take my photos in the vertical (portrait) orientation. This allows me to get more of the up and down part of my scene since I’m usually moving my camera horizontally. Once I started shooting this way, I was much happier with how my panoramas turned out.
  • Zoom out. Don’t take your panorama zoomed in unless you’re going for a certain desired effect. Shooting zoomed out will give you more to work with if you need to crop your photo down.
  • More is better, but will also work the program harder. Make sure you get enough pictures and don’t worry about having too much photo overlap. Just remember, the more photos you use, the longer the program will have to work in order to get your photos all stitched together. For a general horizon, you’ll only need about 8-10 photos.
  • Be aware of light. If parts of your panorama are super overexposed and some are underexposed, your panorama will probably not work out very well. There’s only so much the program can fix.
  • Go slow. You don’t want to get caught up in moving your camera across the landscape and get some motion blur from moving your camera while you’re taking the picture. It happens to me a lot because I get impatient.
  • Be aware of moving subjects. If you have someone moving across your panorama as you’re shooting it, you’re gonna get a half a person here and there and it’s going to look funny.

Okay, so have you taken some photos? For your first panorama, just go outside and snap a few pictures. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. As it’s dark at the time of this posting, I’m going to use some photos I took last month.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.08.33 PM

I’ve opened up Hugin and now I’m going to load my images.  Click “1. Load Images”

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.12.06 PM

Select all of your images. It really helps if they’re already in a sequential number order. Actually, I don’t know if the program will even work if they’re not in order, so make sure they’re numbered and in proper order. (To select all the photos, click the first image, then hold shift and click the last image.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.13.27 PM

Hugin will automatically load any lens data if there is any. If it’s incorrect, you can always change it. Otherwise, leave it alone. Next, click “2. Align”

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.13.45 PM

Hugin will start analyzing and automatically selecting control points for your images. Let the script run.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.13.53 PM

Next, it will show you a preview of your panorama.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.15.20 PM

This gives you an idea of what you’re going to see in the final image. If things don’t look right here, you should start over. Maybe your photos weren’t overlapped enough or the program couldn’t pick good control points for them.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.15.27 PM

Click through the tabs at the top and have a look at how the program sees your image. There’s some mathy stuff going on here in the Layout tab.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.15.59 PM

In the Projection tab, you can fiddle with the “Projection” of your panorama. Perhaps there’s a particular one you like. I generally stick to Equirectangular.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.16.39 PM

You can also straighten or skew the photo by going to the Move/Drag tab and clicking Straighten and then clicking the panorama in the middle and dragging it up or down. I pulled my photo up a little bit, which actually messed up the automatic crop, so I went to the Crop tab and selected Autocrop. You can also crop manually.

Once your preview looks good to you, close it and you’ll be back on the main Hugin screen. From there, you’re gonna see some data about your panorama:

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.17.22 PM

Now, I know it says “very bad fit,” but don’t let that discourage you. The program is kinda picky. Just let it be picky, you can still usually stitch your panorama. So the last thing you do is click “3. Creata panorama.”

The program will ask twice about saving. One is a .pto file, a file needed for the panorama project. It’s where all your control points and adjustments are saved.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.17.28 PM

The other is the image file. It’s going to save your panorama as a .tiff file. Most programs such as Lightroom can read .tiff files.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.17.35 PM

After saving, you’ll have two new boxes. First is the stitcher. Hugin automatically blends your images and stitches them together. It does quite a good job of it too. Though this whole script is really a bunch of gobbledygook to 99.99% of us.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.17.44 PM

The other box is the batch processor. It’ll show you all your projects and previous projects and completion status. When your batch processor says “Complete,” Then you’re done! If it says “Failed,” then there’s something wrong with your panorama. Maybe it really was a really bad fit. You can always try running the alignment again, but if that doesn’t work, try another set of photos.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.18.28 PM

Open up your panorama. How does it look? Hopefully it looks okay, maybe pretty awesome! If it doesn’t look good, it’s okay. Keep trying. My first panorama was pretty awful. This is something that’s fun to fiddle with and experiment with, so have fun with it.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.19.01 PM

As you can see, my panorama is okay, but needs a slight bit of touching up. In the future, I’ll show you how to do simple edits in Lightroom to fix some of these problems. This photo needs some cropping, basic adjustments, and oh, I also have a headless man in the photo.  All of these can be fixed in Lightroom. It’s a great little program.

IMG_3619-IMG_3626-2

And that’s it! If you have any doubts to how awesome Hugin is, here are some more photos that I’ve created in Hugin. It’s a powerful and amazing program for a free piece of software. All of the below photos were taken from multiple photos and stitched in Hugin.

IMG_8408-IMG_8416-Edit

IMG_6509-IMG_6525

IMG_9339-IMG_9345

IMG_8314-IMG_8318-Edit

5999262659_784243a7e2_o

I hope you’ve learned something today! Next week we’ll learn something new! Now, I’m not a certified expert on this stuff, so if you notice a mistake, or if something is confusing and needs clarification, let me know and I will fix it or answer any extra questions! If you have any suggestions, questions, or ideas for future tips, tricks, or tutorials, comment or tweet at me and I’ll address them in future posts!

Have a good week and don’t forget to follow @IggleBugs for updates and encouragement! If you use the hashtag #IggleBugs365, I will try to retweet a few photos every day!

Also, if you want to nominate someone for IggleBug of the Week, tweet @IggleBugs with your nomination!