panorama software,virtual tour software
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2006-01-13
#1

How to use photomatix?

do you first stitch the panoramas then take them to photomatix which I think this is more resonable...
or do you first take the images to photomatix then stitch them?

and whats your workflow in photomatix?

thanks.

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2006-01-13
#2

Hi Spinem,

Many do it both ways as you stated.

I first run my bracket set of 2 ev through photomatrix using "combine H&S details".

I then stitch the combined images in panoweaver.

I have tried stitching 3 panos and then running them through photomatrix but I sometiems have alighnment problems. Even though the 3 panos are from a bracket set which should have no varations in frames the images can come out blurry.

I believe this happens because there are suttle differences in the stitching of each pano even if you use a saved stitching parameters. Not really sure why but that is my experience.

This becomes a question of speed. Say you have a job that is 8 panos. Is it faster to stitch 3 panos for each scene and go to Photmatrix(PM) or PM the bracket set first.

Using batch I can zip through my shoot set pretty quick and then just stitch.

Tone mapping is great for stills at times. But I have found it is time consuming and takes longer. Results are hummmm .....fake at times. I suppose if you were a PM guru and can spend the time to fool around with the suttle settings in tone mapping you could make a really great image.

My view point is from a  "production" standpoint.  It is easier to just batch the frames first and do sometning else while that is going on. Once finished with PM then you move on to stitching. You could also fool around with Combine settings if you want to spend a lot of time on each pano. But if you are in this for the money just take the easy route and use Auto. Just my opinion.

I "think" PM recommends combine the frames first instead of the panos. Not sure have to look that one up.

I have beat this link to death posting it but I did this tour using PM on the bracket set first and then stitching.
http://www.northwestflorida.com/roebuck/destiny_east/index.html

I do a lot of pano work on a regular basis. For me the time vs money issue is on batching the frames and then stitching.

General Lee


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2006-01-13
#3
thank you very much
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2006-01-14
#4

Hi, Spinem,

I use Photomatix HDRI with Tone Mapping and am rather pleased with the results. I run the individual shots through PM and then stitch them. Once you found the good settings for your images in the tone mapping dialog, Photomatix HDRI is doing a good job.

You can see an example at this link:

http://www.photoaround.de/waldschloesschen

All shots taken with my good old CP 990, Fisheye, Full frame mode. 5 shots, each bracketed for 7 stops.

Under the Java panoramas you see a link to "Grobildpanorama", which opens a fullscreen QuickTime of the panorama.

Holger


Holger Schulz, photoaround
http://www.photoaround.de
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2006-01-14
#5

Hi Holger

I really like your panoramas.

I do also use photomatix but normally just combine with HS details auto. I rarely get good results with HDR and tonemapping. Would you share your workflow??

1) do you bracket at ev steps of 1 or 2??

2) I have read that you shoul shoot as many overexposed images as underexposed when using PM. I bracket at +-1ev and my experience is that it is often necessary to do a lot of underexposed shots. Sometimes 7 or 8 on a bright day to get a propper view out of the windows. But when I do the overexposed shots I almost never do more then 3 then the images are way to bright and the result suffers from it when using PM.

I would love a few tips from you because I really think that by improving my skills with PM would improve my images a lot.

Best regards

Morten Andersen

- a newbie trying to improve 


Best regards

Morten Andersen
- a newbie trying to improve
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2006-01-14
#6

Hi, Morten,

Indoor shots with windows I normally bracket with 7 shots, but for the panoramas of the hotel I bracketed 11: 1 shot normal exposure, 3 overexposed, and 7 underexposed, bracketing steps 1 f-stop. So I actually did exactly the same as you do in bright sunlight. Probably this was overkill, but it was my first experimentation with Photomatix and I wanted to make sure I get the results I expected.

I vary the settings in tone mapping depending on image characteristics, so I dont really remember the settings of these specific images. I believe it was something like this: Luminosity: 4, Strength: 60%, Color Saturation: 50%, White and Black Clip: Fiddled until image looked best, Attenuation: medium, Smoothing: medium, Microcontrast: Low (otherwise too much noise in image). The result did not look good at all, but it was a base to start working with PS. Corrected White balance, contrast, brightness with PS, increased saturation with PS. Removed noise with Neat Image. Then stitched the results to the panorama (PanoTools with PTGui). This is not a technique and workflow for people who want to produce large numbers of panoramas in short time.

On a tourist website (under development) I have many panoramas which I also combined with Photomatix, using only 3-shot-bracketing: 1 under-, 1 normal- and 1 overexposed, bracketing-steps 2 f-stops. For outdoor shots this seems to be OK. You can see the panoramas at:

http://www.flusslandschaft-ETS.de

As I said, this site is under construction, it will be completely redesigned once the content is available! Most of the panoramas will be photographed again with a DSLR and 10,5 mm lens.

Hope this helps and wish you much success

BTW: Where do you live in Denmark? Probably not far from my place which is Bergenhusen, close to Schleswig.

Best regards

Holger Schulz


Holger Schulz, photoaround
http://www.photoaround.de
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2006-01-14
#7

I have a coolpix 5000 + FC-E8. I used to bracket 6 to 11 shots at 1 ev but this  prooved to be time consuming in shooting and post process. When you bracket this many at 1 ev you get a lot of window exposures that are blown out. When PM'ed the widnows turn over exposed and look too bright.

I now only bracket 3 shots at 2 ev. The secret is to have  a really under exposed shot for windows and the second shot "slightly" under exposed still with good window color. THis second image would be the midtones but it works out better if you take this shot at the under exposed side. The third shot should be really over exposed but not totally blown out.

A typical set for me is somthing like this:

1/500 , 1/125 and 1/30

late in afternoon or near dusk it is easier to get the windows so you can go with:

1/125 , 1/30, 1/8

You want your stitched image to be slightly underexposed. This will result in good windows but the rest of the image may be a little dark especially in corners or stair wells. I select  the  widnows in photoshop and then select the inverse so that everything is selected but the windows. Now lighten up the image with a little "levels" adjustment.

Sometimes you can just level adjust the whole image without lightening the windows too much.

See this post: Look for my very long answer down the list. I descibe how to read your histogram to figure out what exposures to use
.http://www.easypano.com/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=1&TopicID=1759&PagePosition=1

I recomend you learn how to read a histogram. For me it is indespinsable in determining if I have all three bracket shots at the right exposure.

General Lee


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2006-01-16
#8

@ Holger

Hi Holger. Thank you for your reply.

I sounds very time consuming they way you do it.

I guess that my main problem with your workflow is to little experience and to little knowledge about Phototshop. But I believe that I will improve as time goes.

Also my main concern really isn't the quality of my panoramas. At this stage here in Denmark, I already produce much better panoramas then my competitors. Also I have never had a bad coment about the quality from any of my customers. So basically I just want to improve the quality to satisfy my own requirements.

Unfortunately due to the market in Denmark I use incredibly much of my time trying to get customers. This meens less time to work on the panoramas.

I live in Roskilde, about 30km from Copenhagen. Late this summer I was close to the border on a job for a fitness chain.

 

@ General Lee

Thank you for your advice. I will try and read your post to learn more about the histogram. Personally I don't mind doing 7-11 shots if it just make the pictures good. But I have had the same problem with the windows being blown out when processing the images in PM. Perhaps I should try to go back to ev steps of 2.

 

BTW do any of you have a before / after example of an image with a lot of noise that you have processed in Noise Ninja og NEat Image???

Best regards

Morten Andersen

- a newbie trying to improve.  


Best regards

Morten Andersen
- a newbie trying to improve
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2006-01-16
#9
hi all.
Thanks to every one for their replies. very helpful.

I have a question though...
Why do we have to take so many pictures (over and under exposed)..

I thought If I'm in a room with windows, I'd first measure the light out side the windos, then shoot the panorama. That way I have whats out side.
Then correct the exposure for inside the room, and shoot. and finally, take one over exposed which is measured from the darkest area in the room.

that wont work?
hmmm... I better give all of those a shot... after my finals :p
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2006-01-16
#10

Hi Spinem,

What you say is basilcally what I am saying by taking only 3 shots at 2 ev.

You method will work EXCEPT that all three shots should be 2 ev apart. You don't wan't one  or more of your shots to be more than 2 ev apart. OR less than 1 ev apart.

Photomatrix will of course combine any set of photos at any ev step. But the results are unpredictable and may not be satisfactory ( example: 3 at 1 ev and 2 at 2 ev and 1 at 4ev)

For the best results all your images should be equal in ev steps. ALL at 1 stop or all at 2 stops.

The whole concept of "bracketing" is to capture the "dynamic range of the scene". Dynamic range is the ability of  your camera to capture all the colors and levels of brightness in a particular scene (shot). Dynamic range is like a big Histogram. Your camera can only get a part of this. So we take multiple exposures with each expsure being a slice of the dynamic range. When you put these together in Photomatrix you end up with a single image that posses all the dynamic range of the scene and not just part of it.

It is much like  cutting a page into 3 pieces. One piece is only part of the image. Putting all the pieces to gether yields the whole paper. You want ot avoid overlapping the edges or your page will be smaller. If there are gaps in the pieces the page will be bigger.

However you come to set your exposure you want each image to be a piece of the image and you don't want them to overlap or underlap in exposure.

What is really happening is we are laying 3 images on top of each other and then blending them into one. If you have not captured the entire dynmic range in the bracket set then some part of your image will be over exposed or under exposed.

Consider that between 1/2000 and 1/2 shutter speeds there are only 6 exposures possible if they are at 2 ev apart. The trick is to find what 3 expsures at 2 ev will yield the entire dynamic range. You could combine all 6 but you would be adding way more pixel information than is necessary and this will make the image worse.

When you go with 1 ev you have to take twice as many images to get the same dynamic range you can with 2 ev. So you end up processing twice as many pixels and this makes the image suffer in quality.

After all Photomatrix is really "faking" the dynamic range anyway. It is manipilating pixels in each image that do not exist in any of the exposures. The final image is a manipulated image. The less you manipulate the image the better the quality.

Single exposure panos without using Photomatrix will always make a better image. The more images you blend the less your quality will be.

General Lee