Quick Panoramas with Photoshop

Yes, I know.  This feature has been in Photoshop since CS3.  Still, every time I stitch together a panorama, I’m amazed at the technology.

I recently returned from a trip up north to Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minnesota (aka The Iron Range).  The fall colors were at their prime so naturally I took a lot of pictures.  At one point, I took a sequence of four pictures that would make a good panorama.  For the record, the images are of an old mining pit that has filled with water.  Who would have thought a hole in the ground would be so beautiful?

The first step is to take the sequence of pictures.  Make sure you consciously overlap your shots so Photoshop has some common information to compare between images when aligning them.  Here are my four pictures:

The next step is to use Photoshop to create the panorama.  In Photoshop, choose File > Automate > Photomerge.  In the dialog, click the Browse button and select all your images.  Note the Layout options on the left.  Choose the option that best relates to your pictures.  In my example, I choose Cylindrical.

Click OK and watch the magic happen.  Photoshop will import and align all the images in one document.  It also adds masks to all the layers and blends the seams between the images:

It’s not perfect, though.  You still have edges that need to be cropped out.  Or do you?  Photoshop CS5 added Content Aware Fill.  If the panorama impressed you, this will blow your mind!  Select the area outside the image (I used the Magic Wand).  Choose Edit > Fill.  Make sure the Use is set to Content-Aware and click OK.  The outer region was magically recreated!  Wow!  Here are three images showing the selection, the fill, and deselecting the image.

That is seriously cool stuff.  For extra credit, I played around with the new HDR Toning feature of Photoshop CS5 (Image > Adjustments > HDR Toning).

I decided to go with a monochromatic effect that I thought looked cool.  Here are the final products (click on each one to view the large version):


Panorama with HDR Toning

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