My Blog Banner – step-by-step

Something different.  Basically just a promotion for some cool free photo software. 😉

Thought I’d show how i made this beautiful banner you can see across the top of my blog – oh you thought that was a professional photo that came with the WordPress layout?  Ha, kidding.

So pretend you have four or five pictures that you took in sequence, say of a beach.  Each picture has to synch with the one next to it reasonably well.  The best way to do this is balance your camera on something so that even if you tilt vertically slightly around the panorama it will be only slight.  Also the software to make panoramas is hugin (click the link download for free) and hugin likes to find really clear markers along the way so bear it in mind.

  

So for instance the second cottage to the right of the holiday-flats is quite recognisably on two pictures together.  As is the last two buildings on the bay and the tyre tracks on the next picture.  I did this sequence hand-held, not heeding my own advice so you can see slight jolts in the horizon, the hugin software will crop where this happens so you will lose bits at the top and bottom.  There are a couple more pics in the sequence:

  

There you have it, six pictures, that’s one more than I usually take but hey, it was a big beach.  Plus there will be a lot of overlap, which you can see at this stage, so only fragments of each picture will be seen so it shouldn’t be too long.  Once you’ve downloaded Hugin you open the program and exit the help-tutorial.  Just click upload images and select your images in the window.  Then on the same page you will click align images and the magic starts.

What can happen is the software cannot find the identical points between each picture.  In that case it will ask you to do it by eye, which isn’t too hard, find similar points and click them.  It is easy to follow.  Once the picture is finished and you’ve clicked create-panorama it will save it as a Tiff, I open it in my paint package and save it again as a jpeg.  In this case it looked like this:

Then you need to download the month-of-fun free trial of Oloneo HDR (high dynamic range) software, if you don’t know what this is google it, because if I explained it you’d still be none the wiser. 

Open your oleneo program and open the panorama, there’s a file selector drop down menu at the top of this program.  Then you have sliders on the right hand side, the top two give your image an intensity of colour, intense detail and stronger light and dark range.  Play around with it, there are a few other variables and some nice pre-made filters on the left.  Basically HDR imaging is good for somethings, like reflections, vehicles, old things, buildings and skies, and bad with some things like trees, some landscapes things with too much detail in.  And after you’ve played around you might have something like this:

You can see the difference, the detail in the sand is much better and the colour in the sky.  What you will find when doing a panorama is the light will be different as you move towards away from or towards the sun.  Hugin will equalise the light so you can’t see the difference between frames but you might find it darkens the lightest parts to the darkest parts, rather than the other way around.  For me sunny days always become a little bit stormy all of a sudden.  Anyone who takes photos though should definitely download these two programs (although when your month expires oleneo is $125, which I think is too much) and have a play.  It really is easy.

Comment if you liked this post, is there something you’d like to see as a tutorial in the future?  Photoshop/hugin/picnik lomography effects etc?  (I can’t do oleneo anymore, my version expired ;()

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3 thoughts on “My Blog Banner – step-by-step

  1. Good of you to explain it all…I’ll take a proper look once I have more time but as I recently went to a photography workshop I will be attempting to do a bit more with my photos and this info will come in handy! Just need to find my blasted camera now…it has been missing since I returned from Guernsey?! hmmmm….

  2. I personally enjoy Gimp2 and Picnik – both are completely free and offer all the same features you described. Now you can pay for Picnik to get a few more features – which I do because it’s only $26 a year!

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