The image will come in the next post, but for now, I thought I’d show the process I used to create our first Christmas Card after we moved to our house in Davis.
The concept was to show off the big change in our lives that buying a house made for us, and how it was the center of our world. The inspiration was these planet type panoramas I happened upon one day, and I set out to create them.
The first step was to take a lot of photos from one spot representing the full view from that spot 360 degrees around and 180 degrees from top to bottom. This is mostly easy with a tripod, except the part where you have to shoot below. The image demonstrated here utilized 32 shots to cover everything with a lot of care to accommodate overlap. The top image shows all 32 shots in my catalog.
The second step is to bring them into Hugin (a full featured panorama stitching program) and let it do its thing. For the post here, I just let everything run in default through its simple mode. The 32 shots took about 5 minutes to stitch; the program finds common points between each image with every other image systematically. As a word of caution, in 2008, when we made this Christmas Card, it took well over an hour for Hugin to process this. The improvement is likely more due to technology (better computer) than the program itself. The program is already quite efficient for what it’s doing.
The third step is to go into the preview and work with the projection. The default is likely to be an equirectangular projection, which you should be able to see that you have the full 360-180 projection available. You can use the move tab to adjust the location of things (you can see us on the left of the image). By default we were actually right on the edge, so we had to adjust a bit. I’d limit the adjustments, however, as the spherical part lets you get a lot of flexibility in.
The fourth step is to change the projection to Stereographic in Hugin. At that point, it is going to appear that everything has fallen apart and you are lost in some alternate universe… Hang with it.
The key in the next step is to move into the “Move/Drag” Tab. First you should use the slider at the bottom of the preview to zoom in a bit (drag the slider left just a bit). At the same time, play around, very carefully, with the image itself; clicking and dragging to warp the projection until you get what you want. It can be very tedious especially to get close to the initial idea.
Once you get mostly what you want, I suggest zooming out to get a bit more than what you really need. I usually use Lightroom or Photoshop to take care of the final crops.
For a bit more return, there are more detailed settings in Hugin to allow you to add control points between images, optimize the exposure and/or projections, and refine the stitched details.
Hugin is a fantastic program with a ton of features and projection options. I know it isn’t as easy to use as Microsoft’s ICE program (which is also free), but Hugin gives a lot of flexibility and a lot more options, which I love.
Ultimately, you end up with your own little planet (the Final Product)