Layered image of 5-13 Meso

Just out of curiosity, what programs are you using to do this? Also, what do you think is the best photo editing program to use?

I think this would be a good question for anyone who's into storm photography. Especially if they are looking to enter the realm of using SLRs. I bring this up because I think I'm going to buy a Digital Rebel with my graduation money.
For just stitching 3 images together I usually use Canon's Photostitch that comes in the Digital Rebel package. It works pretty well, but here's a tip. When you take 3 seperate pics, take them all in manual with the same aperature, iso, etc. Don't take them in auto or else it will change the aperature, iso, etc. and cause your images to be diff. colors, but you can go back and change that later with some post processing, but its easier to stitch all 3 real quick if you shoot in manual with all same settings. As for stitching more than 3 images, I'm not real sure what program is best, maybe Aaron or someone else can eleborate.
Holy cow, Aaron, that has me stoked. I have a 20D coming in the mail this Thursday. If the out-of-the-box Canon photostitching program can do THAT (and I hope it can -- if it can't, I'll gladly use whatever it is you're using), I can see I won't be needing to save up to buy that 10mm lense I was thinking about. :)
Actually, I've never used canon's stitcher... perhaps I should try it. That was done using a trial version of panorama factory. IF you see the full size image, it has a few issues (some things duplicated on horizon) but I don't know enough yet to fix it. I might just try manual in photoshop next... once I ptlens correct the images.

Oh sweet - nice job guys! ... Aaron beat me to the next idea - vertical stacking. I had planned to try this on the next storm but there haven't been any decent structured mesos to try it with yet.

Very very nice! - - - Could make a great poster. By the way, if you go back to the Hallam thread, Mark Humpage had some great ideas for programs to use ... Canon PS doesn't quite do the trick to hide stitches, etc. There are lots of tricks to pick up on these panoramas.

Aaron - what was the focal length you were using on your lens at the time if you happen to remember? -
Yeah - wider angle seems to work better for these - not as much distortion in the end product once you work the stitching. Exposure looks pretty good, I think - I get way too contrasty with these because I like to see detail in the clouds, so I don't care as much if the land looks a little underexposed. I'd say yours came out very nicely as far as exposure goes.
Just tried Canon Stitcher.... didn't do so hot. You cen see vertical bands where you merge them together. What is interesting is how even with the same exposure settings, the images still have a slightly different brightness too them. My first guess was auto white-balance so I saved all of the images with custom white balance. Still didn't fix it so I'm not sure what the deal is. All of the images were shot within a few seconds of each other, so I would have a hard time believing the lighting changed that much.

Another thought.... a prime would be much better at doing panos. Much less distortion. You'd have a tough time stitching 17mm shots from the 17-40 together... there is mucho barrel distortion at the wide end.

These slight variations in individual photographs become a big deal when trying to stitch this stuff.

Found this article online that may be helpful:

Because light conditions change literally in seconds while you are shooting it (especially since we are dealing with moving clouds and contrasty scenes that are constantly in motion), you have to take the individual shots in as quick of a succession as possible - within seconds of each other.

One of the things this article mentions is to avoid using a polarizer when shooting a panorama. I found this out when I recently did a panorama of the New York skyline (I need to get some of these photos up for you guys to see) ... I used a polarizer, which polarizes the light at a 90 degree angle from the sun. So as I took this series of photos of the skyline at sunset, the polarized light makes a BIG difference in the levels of the individual photographs ... ugh. Another big player is the software you use ... you are able to do some tweaking in some software to better match up the exposure levels of the individual photos. I need to do some more research into the subject, but I think it is well worth it.

Notice in the article above the recommendation to vertically stack another layer of imagery to the panorama to avoid creating a narrow field of view. This is a slick trick and I can't wait to try it the first chance I get as well. (who needs a box camera?) If you are shooting with a 35mm digital SLR, then these images can easily become overwhelmingly huge for your computer to handle, so if your end goal is just to get a photo on the net, individual photos have to be properly resized prior to stitching, or else your software WILL have trouble opening and working with the image ... you can easily end up with a 40 meg file or more on these things.

This is a recent panorama of a shelf that worked better during the stitch process than the original Hallam meso. (This is significantly reduced to fit on the screen - it's a huge file of six, 6.3 mp photos stitched together) ... I also need to play with the exposure a bit. Shot this with a 24mm fixed lens, by the way - so much less distortion (you can make out the smiley face effect on the edges, but since there were hillsides involved it's not as bad of a distraction as it could be) ... I don't think I lost much, if any data at all on the edges of the photo after the stitch.


Here is the original Hallam project thread: