AutoStitch – Photo panorama stitcher

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This is demo software created by 2 PhD students at University of British Columbia. It currently only works with jpgs and doesn’t allow for defining the name of the output.

Looking at the pictures and the comments, it would appear to be very impressive, and well worth watching out for in the future.

I have a couple panorama shots, so I’ll have to convert them to jpg (as this is the only format currently supported) and see how it does.

AutoStitch

Photo Editing

I’ve been using Photoshop Elements 2 for awhile now, although not seriously until I got a digital camera. It is amazingly powerful, especially considering it’s price ($US99)(in comparison to Photoshop CS ($US649). It has the appearance of Photoshop CS, and most of the power. It won’t do 48-bit colour pictures, doesn’t have curves or CMYK support (at least not natively). Basically things you care about if you’re a pro, but for most people at home, Elements is plenty.

I’ve added 2 things to Elements recently. One is a book with tools. The other is a graphics tablet.

The book is The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 2. The book goes into a lot of detail on image editing (probably more than the average person cares about, but I like to know more rather than less). The other great thing about the book is the included tools. They appear as How To items in Elements, and extend the power of Elements to become much closer to Photoshop CS.

It adds curves, Splitting an image into channels. CMYK support, and a number of other tasks that are commonly performed, but would normally require many steps to perform.

As far as I can tell, the author has written the tools using Photoshop CS’ scripting tools and then saved them. Elements is so closely tied to Photoshop CS that it recognizes and can use the scripts. It also has all the abilities and Adobe just hasn’t made some of them available.

For example, for Curves. The Power Tools Curves item runs a script to create a Curves layer. Once the layer is created, it cannot be modified in Elements. If you try to modify the curve, Elements tells you the layer is locked and can’t be modified by elements. If you really want curves, but don’t want to pay for CS, this is one way to get almost there.

The other thing purchased recently is a Wacom Graphire3 tablet. I don’t use it all the time, but for some tasks, I wouldn’t be without it. Complex selections and any other form of ‘painting’ task. It’s much more precise, easier to control and nicely setup. The pen has a toggle switch on the side that can be programmed to be 2 different keys. This way I can do most of my selecting/unselecting or cloning without having to touch the keyboard. Very nice!

Another very useful resource for Elements is the public forum hosted by Adobe. The users are very friendly (even to newbies) and helpful.

It can be accessed either via the web or with a newsgroup reader. The only thing is the group is quite active, and not always on topic. There are a number of regulars that are very helpful when questions are asked, but also have a tendency to ‘chat’ in threads too. Still well worth reading/searching/posting to if you have a question.

Finally, 2 other books that come highly recommended. I have skimmed them and certainly liked what I saw. The great thing about both of these books is they’re solution rather than featured oriented. Rather than telling you what each option in Elements does (which is basically a rehash of the users manual), they tell you what tools to use to solve a problem. They both provide step-by-step walkthroughs of handling common problems like red-eye, dark or light in portions of the image etc.

The books are:

  1. The Photoshop Elements book for Photographers by Scott Kelby
  2. Photoshop Elements 2 Solutions: The Art of Digital Photography by Mikkel Aaland

Photo Organization

Started looking at various methods of organizing photos. I want a program that allows me to categorize my images, archive them to CD if required, and generate a web gallery. I want to have total control over the output from the Web Gallery.

Looked at a few. Adobe Photo Album, JASC Photo Album, and a few others. Decided to buy IMatch by photools.com.

I decided to go with IMatch because of its flexibility. It isn’t the prettiest, or the easiest to use (not that it’s hard), but it is very powerful and customizable. The scripting language allows you to do most anything you want, and the user community is also very good. It uses scripts for generating web galleries, so I was able to customize it to fit my web page requirements. Now I can generate the pages for my web gallery and not have to do anything to them afterwards.

Very well setup for categorizing images. Supports IPTC and EXIF information. User-defined properties for associating whatever information you want with an image. And a reasonable price too ($49.95 US right now).

It also recognizes and displays the various RAW formats used by the manufacturers, and he’s quick to provide support for new cameras.