Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Making of a 7 Frame Aerial Panorama

Lately, the Sacramento Delta has been in the news as a revival of variations the Peripheral Canal project are in the news.

I took the opportunity to do an aerial shoot of the Delta region. I'm still working on the hundreds of images I took that day, but wanted to share one particularly neat shot.

Sacramento River Delta (click to view larger)
This image is a 7 image stitched panorama, taken while flying 120 miles per hour (according to my GPS readings recorded on my phone). 

How did I do it? It started by having the pilot make a tight right turn. Then I fired off a frame about every seven seconds as we made the turn. The entire turn took (again, according to my GPS) about 50 seconds.

That was the easy part. Stitching the images in Photoshop was much more time consuming.

Since each of the images was taken from a slightly different location, the built in Panorama tools in Photoshop can't successful stitch together seven aerial images. So, I had to do it by hand. This didn't turn out to be terribly difficult; just time consuming.

A bit of careful and creative image blending created a seamless image measuring 17,441 x 3,583 pixels, or 58 x 15 inches at 300 dpi. And that's the advantage of a stitched panorama: the size of the image is limited only by your ability to successfully stitch images together. As a result, this image provides an unprecedented level of detail, as the image below demonstrates.

I'll have more images from that aerial shoot in the coming weeks.

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