Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The other kinda bikes

I spent Sunday wandering 4 miles around and around the parking lots at the Pentagon. The annual Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom was gathering for the Memorial Day ride downtown. It took a while to get into the shooting groove. With so much to see (200,000+ bikes and bikers will do that to you) it was hard to narrow down things to shoot. I decided something new and interesting to try would be to do a number of multiple-image panorama shots. The results would have been much better had I actually taken a tripod down with me, but I didn't, so I made the best of it handheld. In my attempt to get a good overall vantage point, I climbed everything I could find. Tarp-covered dirt piles, concrete street lamp bases, bigass electrical transformers, pedestrian walkways, and a WWII truck. I took about six panorama shots, each composed of 5-7 individual shots.

When I got home, I tried a couple of different panorama stitching tools to create my final images. A Canon program, one freeware program, good ol' Gimp, and Photoshop Elements 2.0. I wasn't too crazy with the results of any of them (honestly, tho, I never did really figure out the Gimp technique). Ben pointed out (in defense of the software) that I was probably trying to stitch the most difficult images these programs would ever encounter. A million shiny chrome bits, a million dark parts, plus a million colors. It makes sense that the software freaked out. Each one did things that seriously distorted the images. So I ended up hand stitching one set of six images and the results are better than the software did. I need to learn how to gradiate the sky so it looks more natural, but the seams in the crowds are nearly invisible.

The final image is way too wide to display here, so I'll just give you a link. It's about a 600kb file, so it's not small:

Bigass Pano 1