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PTGui Tutorial: 3 Panoramic Photography

Tips and 5 Editing Techniques


PTGui is a leading stitching software for stitching 360/panoramic photos, to make
better use of the software, we have the 3 tips and 5 editing techniques for you.

3 Rules to Take 360 Images:

Before stitching, make sure you know these 3 rules to take 360 images properly:

1. Avoid parallax, use a panohead or philopod

Parallax is a phenomenon where two objects in your source images appear to have
changed their relative positions from one to another, because of changes in the
camera's perspective. To avoid having stitching errors, we recommend that you avoid
having parallax at all costs; that is also to say, ALL of your images to be stitched into a
panorama must be shot from ONE single viewpoint.

The viewpoint for your camera lens is its entrance pupil, also known as no-parallax
point or nodal point. Now suppose if you mount your camera on a tripod and start
turning it on its base, the lens/perspective is constantly changing as you take images
for your panorama. And that is NOT what we want.

To solve that problem, you need to attach a panoramic head, panohead for short,
onto your tripod, to help rotate your camera around the front of the lens.
If you don't have a panohead, you can also craft a philopod, which is a piece of string
tying the no-parallax point of your camera at one end with a weight at the other end.
This technique is also explained by its inventor, Philippe Hurbain on his personal
website.

That way, by having your camera swiveling on a fixed point, you have ensured that
the perspective remains the same, and saved yourself the headache of having
stitching errors.

https://youtu.be/ouOEM4cKKGc

Watch this tutorial by Florian Knorn for some basic techniques in getting the images
you want, and see a panohead in action.

2. Make sure everything is on manual mode

Lock your exposure by selecting the Manual mode on your camera, so all your
images will be taken with the SAME exposure settings. If your camera doesn't come
with the Manual mode option, you can still count on PTGui's Blender to smooth out
the differences in brightness.

Set the focus on Manual too; Lock the white balance in your camera, which you can
choose to use the camera presets.

You can check out this Manual mode tutorial for DSLR cameras
(https://www.cnet.com/how-to/dslr-tips-for-beginners-how-to-use-manual-mode/)
by CNET for more tips.

3. 20% Overlap between images

Approximately 20% overlap between your images should help PTGui recognize where
each image goes in your panorama without problems.

Image courtesy PTGui

5 Editing Tips with PTGui

Basic Workflow

Load images: Load your images into the Project Assistant by either clicking on "Load
Images", or using simple drag-and-drop;

Align images: PTGui can automatically detect overlapping details on different images,
where the software will set down control points, to project them altogether into a
panorama; when it fails to do so, you will have to manually select control points with
the Control Point Assistant; create at least 4 pairs of control points to evenly cover
the overlap. You can click and drag to change the position of the control points, or
right-click to delete them. You can check the Control Point Assistant tab to see if you
have enough control points yet;

PTGui Control Point Assistant

Optimize images: Run the optimizer to make sure the control points are matched as
closely as possible;

Make sure all vertical lines are parallel, and straighten the image horizon.

Choose your projection:

Rectilinear: Less than 120 degrees of field of view;

Cylinderical: Panorama onto a flat surface;

Equirectangular: Full spherical image;

Crop your image: You can drag the vertical and horizontal sliders to resize your image,
or drag on each edge of your image to resize asymmetrically.

Fix blending faults with masking.


Create panorama: Set size manually or go with the default optimum size, select the
file format and output layers, and save the file.

Straighten the horizon

A distorted horizon when you load your panorama set into PTGui can be the result of
either your camera changing in position during the photo shoot, or if an anchor
image was rotated during optimization.

You can click on the icon in PTGui to correct the image horizon automatically or
pull it straight manually.

You can manually straighten your panorama when you have the Panorama Edit mode
on:

1. Left-click on a point on your horizon and drag it to the central crosshair of the
editor;

2. Right-click on a second point that isn't on the middle horizontal line of your
panorama editor yet, and drag it on that line;

Now your image is straightened out.


Watch this video tutorial by panoramasdk to recap.

https://youtu.be/mN3YzqNZexg

Mask moving objects and tripods

Masking is frequently resorted to when there are moving objects in your panoramic
images that result in doubles, or when you don't want to see your tripod showing on
the nadir image. This technique is used to fix blending errors.

With PTGui, you can paint the objects you want to mask out in red or green, but
notice that red is for hiding objects from your final panorama, while green is for
preserving objects so they come out visible in your output.

With that principle in mind, if you:

Want to block out the tripod, you need to paint it red, which you can encircle with
the Draw tool and fill your enclosed object with red using the Fill tool;

Want to make an object that's currently hidden visible again because it's cut into
two by a stitch seam, you need to bring out the Detail Viewer and choose to "Show
Seams". Now you are able to find the source image where that hidden object from
the panorama is on; paint and fill that in green using the same two tools explained
above. Now if you check on the seam again, you will notice that it has already
moved.

Watch this video tutorial by Florian Knorn for a full walkthrough.


https://youtu.be/6GZDqeE-src

HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos and tone mapping

Dynamic range is a photography term, referring to the range of light intensities from
the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights in images. DSLR and mirrorless
cameras typically have larger sensors, and feature a wider dynamic range than
compact cameras with smaller sensors.

In a longer exposure, details in the shadows will be distinct, but highlights might
appear washed out, as typical of a sunrise/sunset shot; in a short exposure, however,
highlights can be exposed properly, but darker objects will descend into an
unrecognizable mess.

HDR photography aims at overcoming the limited dynamic range of the camera
sensor, by combining multiple exposures of the same scene ("bracketed" exposures)
in order to maximize detail in light and dark areas. They combine the exposure
brackets shot in camera to produce an HDR image.

If you own an SLR camera, turn on and manual mode and use its automatic
bracketing function (which is otherwise unachievable through digital compact
cameras), to take a sequence of images with varying exposure times.

Tone mapping is a method for HDR imaging and printing, considering CRT and LCD
monitors and printouts have a more limited dynamic range than achievable in an
HDR image. This technique maps one set of colors to another to approximate the
appearance of HDR images.

PTGui will detect bracketed images as their exposure times follow a pattern, and ask
you if you want to link the bracketed images. Once linked, the images will be treated
as a whole, with the same yaw, pitch and roll; if your images were taken handheld,
however, choose to enable HDR mode but don't let PTGui link up the images.

HDR settings

PTGui has two workflows for HDR images: You can choose to go with True HDR,
which creates an HDR panorama and has it tone-mapped to a printable image; or you
can go with Exposure Fusion, which tone-maps your panorama directly without
generating the HDR panorama first. You can toggle between the two options under
the Exposure/HDR tab.

This video tutorial by HDRPhotographyPro explains the workflow for Exposure


Fusion.
https://youtu.be/iElCsnWEtl4

For True HDR, you will need to:

1. Change to Edit Individual Images mode in the panorama editor after the images
imported have been aligned and control points generated, and edit each image
under their correspondent numbered tab;

2. Under the Create Panorama tab, set a name for your output file, and select the
EXR output format. Choose to output both 'HDR panorama' and 'Tone mapped
panorama';

3. Adjust your Tone Map Settings under the Exposure / HDR tab. Drag the sliders and
see how the preview changes, until you get the result you want. Click "OK" to save
your settings Adjust the sliders until the result look satisfactory and press OK to save
the settings to the project;

4. Create your panorama, which outputs two files, one .jpeg file for the tone-mapped
panorama, one .exr file for the HDR panorama.

For Exposure Fusion, you will need to:

1. Change your Fusion Settings while monitoring your preview;


2. Create panorama.

Correct viewpoints

This video by Pixelrama explains how to correct viewpoints in PTGui.

https://youtu.be/r0P0iNYB6HY

Full Workflow

Here are two full tutorials by PTGui and Florian Knorn on stitching panoramas with
PTGui. You can also visit Florian Knorn's panorama tutorials playlist to gain more
insights.

https://youtu.be/bEI1CJoMLcY

https://youtu.be/W-WEosizCzE

You can also visit PTGui's tutorials page(https://www.ptgui.com/examples/) for more


details on these techniques.

Hope this PTGui Tutorial with 3 Panoramic Photography Tips and 5 Editing Techniques
(https://veer.tv/blog/ptgui-tutorial-3-panoramic-photography-tips-5-editing-techniqu
es/) has helped you in using the software. Also, check to know the difference
between PTGui and PTGui Pro
(https://veer.tv/blog/ptgui-and-ptgui-pro-whats-the-difference-infographic-included/).