Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stitching cell phone photos

The term "stitching" only began to be applied to photography (as far as I'm aware) when digital image editing became widely used, with the propagation of programs like Adobe Photoshop®. We should keep in mind, though, that the combining of two or more photographs into one image is almost as old as the paper print process itself. The fabulous Jerry Uelsmann developed incredible skill at multiple printing, using as many as 8 enlargers to create extraordinarily imaginative images of a wide variety of types. When I first saw an exhibition about two decades ago, I was blown away. As well as the artistic strength of what I viewed, the technical achievement inspired me to try a few rudimentary experiments in my own darkroom. If nothing else, this gave me extra reason to appreciate Uelsmann's skill. Now, when people younger than me encounter Uelsmann's works, particularly online, they frequently assume that it has been accomplished digitally.

After that lengthy digression, let's return to stitching. This refers to the photographic rendering of a broad area by multiple exposures, and the joining of these photos into one image. There were panoramic photos printed in the chemical darkroom from multiple frames of film, but it was always very difficult to minimize visibility of the seams or joins. With the advent of digital imaging (including digital scans of film), it became much more practical to produce visually undetectable stitched photos, requiring only that the photos overlapped somewhat and were consistent in exposure and color. I did some of this in Photoshop "manually". That is, with each photo on a separate layer, I would make one layer partially transparent and move it until it lined up precisely with the next. When all were aligned, they were returned to full opacity, and masks were used to blend the regions of juncture.

Now to the present, when things have become much easier if the goal is a seamless stitch. There are various software options that accomplish it automatically. Recent versions of Photoshop incorporate panorama creation. Last night, at intermission of a concert in Meymandi Hall, I stepped outside to see whether the thunderstorms in the area were active. (George Takei appeared with us - the North Carolina Symphony - and joked that he had "beamed down through turbulence.") The rain hadn't reached us yet, but the sky was begging for a photograph. I only had my iPhone with me. The camera's field of view wouldn't do justice to the spread of cloud formations, so I grabbed four overlapping shots, planning to stitch later. Here is the result.


No comments:

Post a Comment

You may comment anonymously if you wish. Comments are moderated. Spam will be blocked or removed.