There are several ways to stitch together photographs to make stunning panoramas. One of the easiest ways is with Microsoft’s free photo organizer called Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG). WLPG is a free download that works with XP, Vista, and now Windows 7. For Vista users, this tool is an evolution of Vista’s Photo Gallery but unfortunately you cannot remove the old version. This is no big deal, you’ll just have both programs on your computer. While the stitching process is extremely simple, as a trade-off, the tool doesn’t offer many customization options. If you need more flexibility, then consider Photoshop or another free Microsoft tool called ICE – or Image Composite Editor.
Obviously you will need a series of photos from a single vantage point. You can have two photos up to as many as you like.
Here are some tips to remember when taking your photos:
- Make sure each photo in your series has a bit of overlap so the software will know where the stitching points are. It is safer to have too much overlap than none at all.
- When taking the photos, try to keep your camera in the same position and at the same angle as you rotate. A tripod or monopod will help for larger shoots.
- If you have the know-how and a capable camera, set the exposure manually. Doing this will prevent different exposures on the various photos. If you don’t know what this means, then don’t worry about it – just shoot!
Let’s get started.
Open WLPG and find the photos you want to stitch together. Select these photos. As you can see in the screen shot below, I am using a series of seven photos from the interior of Boone Pickens Stadium. The photos were taken with a camera placed on my knee and span 180 degrees from end-zone to end-zone. (These are old photos from April, 2008 before construction was complete.)
From the menu, select MAKE > CREATE PANORAMIC PHOTO
This process could take a few seconds to a few minutes depending on how many photos you are trying to stitch together. After this process completes, you will be prompted to give your panorama a file type and name. This is the ONLY OPTION you have in the process. The default file type is JPG which is sufficient for emailing, posting to Facebook, etc… However, if you wish to do serious editing or print this professionally you will need to save the image as a TIFF. TIFF files are not compressed and are much larger than compressed JPG files. Typically, photo editing software gives you the option of how much compression to apply but for some reason it is a fixed level in this software. Remember, more compression equals more degradation of the original image.
That’s it! Your image may have some strange edges as a result of the stiching processing compensating for the placement and angle of your camera. If you don’t like these edges then simply use WLPG or any other photo editor to crop it square.
What started as seven individual images from a camera balanced on my knee is now an end-zone to end-zone view of Boone Pickens Stadium.