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Why not a HOWTO?

HOWTO documents are to give general guidelines on how to do something. After looking over my list it occured to me I'm doing less on how to make a panoramic image as on how not to screw up. I'll not guarantee you will have anything that resembles a panoramic image if you follow this guide, but I will guarantee you will spend less time making the same mistakes I did.
  1. Get a digial camera with manual settings.
  2. Turn off date printing on camera (yes, yes, I'm sure noone would ever make that mistake!)
  3. Have pleanty of well defined over lapping points. This can't be stressed enough. Have three between each image. Corners a good, chess boards are doubly so, lines, circles are not.
  4. The more light the merrier (see below).
  5. Hallogen lights make it look yellow/orange (except in my case where the developing center made one roll turn out blue), possibly use florescent?
  6. Be sure you get all images (the developing center forgot to develop an image in the middle of my roll, and in changing rolls I missed an image of a really good sequence, duh!).
  7. Don't use a flash attached to the camera. Think about it, everytime you move the camera you change the lighting. Ideally you don't want anything to move until you have all the images (except the camera of course), especially the lighting. This means get some high speed film, turn on the lights, and hope the camera can deal.
  8. Verify the camera rotates around the film not some other point. I'm not sure how much difference this actually made, but I ran a string from the camera to an X on the floor and moved the tripod to keep it centered. In my tripod by tipping the camera horizontal it was more than an inch from the center of rotation. Again I don't know how much difference this made, but I did it anyway.
  9. If you have an autofocus camera generally you can lock in the focus by pressing the button down half way. Find a nice big flat area to lock onto for each picture them rotate to the picture you are taking at the time. If you don't the camera will be focused differently for each image and you can have an object that is in two images be in focus in one and blurry in the other. Lock in the focus so they are both just a blurry.
  10. If you are using a timer 10 seconds isn't a long time, have everything setup so you can press shoot and get in the picture.
  11. If you are going to be in the picture make sure you are in only one without overlap in another.
  12. Close your curtains, shades, and anything else looking outside. No this isn't to keep people from seeing you for later suggestions, this is because even if it is a cloudy day outside it lets in a lot more light than you think.
  13. The last, but not least, (actually it was the only one I haven't corrected and without it I'm not going anymore panoramic pictures (especially indoors)). Get a digital camera where you can freeze the focus, shutter speed, and all other settings for the rest of the pictures, also you have to be able to be able to manually set them too (so I've mentioned it already. It's worth repeating.) The biggest problem I had was each image turns out to have a different brightness, contract, color tint, and that isn't easy to fix. Think about where these get introduced on an automatic print camera. You can freeze the focus, but the shutter speed etc will be different for each picture (and probably even if you can point to one place and freeze it). So now it is on the negative and we have already introduced error. You take it to get developed and each print is developed differently from each image on the negative even if you were able to freeze all your settings in taking the picture. Now you scan them in, does your scanner/software do any compensation based on what it is scanning? My scanner has claims a 42 bits of color internally, since it only outputs 24 bits of color it has to pick and choose which bits so I'll assume the answer here is yes (otherwise what's the point of haveing 42 bits of color if you are always throwing away 18 bits, wait don't answer I know, MARKETING!)
  14. Realize you are going to devote hours and hours and hours and hours to the project, or be prepared to get a so-so, yes the interfaces bewteen each image stand out plain as day and be able to live with it. If you are willing to accept that kind of result you might just be able to finish in a week. Maybe. That being said I think it took my computer five or six hours of computer time for it to generate the final image. That is after you have the final retouched images, the rotation, translation, transformation information, you start the program, go get a good nights sleep come back and it is finished. The reduced size panoramic conversion took about 10 minutes. This is with 320MB of ram, your time will vary.

Some good suggestions

  1. You know what the camera can see, move all your junk where the camera can't. It makes the picture look good and will confuse the heck out of those you actually know you, becides it is easy to put back right?
  2. Use a tripod, ok so I got this one right the first time. It is here for completeness.
  3. Here is where you can have fun. Change clothes for each image you are going to be in and do something silly.