Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Microsoft ICE: Stitcher from Microsoft

Microsoft Research has released a free stand-alone panorama stitcher called "Image Composite Editor". It is an automatic panorama stitcher focused towards easy assembly of panoramas for hobbyists and occasional photographers.
To find out more about the features, read the announcement at Microsoft Research

Some interesting features, packed with this software, are worth to point out:
  • easy to use panorama editor to align the panorama
  • direct output to HDView and Deep Zoom tiles, so you can stitch high resolution panoramas without having to care about file sizes.
  • Planar stitching modes:
    - mode 1: assemble images without warping. Useful for assembling a large image from scanned parts, e.g. a large map.
    - mode 2: rotate, skew and resize images to fit. Useful if you stitch a panorama where the single images are captures from different positions
    - mode 3: stitch large horizontal scenes ("wall panoramas")

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Flickr HDR" vs. "The real thing"

Sometimes, terms tend to establish with just a portion of the original meaning. This also seems to apply to HDR imaging. If you follow the threads and images on various photo discussion boards and platforms, you will notice: most times, HDR is meant for a certain look, not for the technology itself.

To help to understand the difference, Erik Reinhard - on of the pioneers of HDR imaging - wrote an article about "Flickr HDR" which is worth reading.

Why care?
If you want to be able to master the various problems and pitfalls of HDR, you have to be able to understand exactly, what type of image you're actually working on. I personally prefer to distinguish between 3 types of images - each one with important differences in workflow (e.g. tonemapping):

  • LDR: That's what you will certainly use most of your times. It is the range, your camera can capture with one shot (no matter if you use JPEG or RAW).
  • MDR: Images with extended range, typically a bracketed image. Still, this image will not contain the full dynamic range of the scene you capture.
  • HDR: This is "The real thing". Everything (all brightness and color), including the light source itself is included in the image. Thus, such images can even be "reversed" by using them as a light source, e.g. for computer generated scenes - called image based lighting (IBL).
Just for the sake of funny comparisons:
Please do not forget: This is not to critizise the artistic value of an image - we're talking about the technology!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another new version of Slicer

Changes in Version
  • Full automatic mode: Slicing, stitching, if applicable - cutting - and HDView creation can be done in full automatic mode. You set the parameters, the rest doesn't need any manual intervention.
  • Creation of some helpful batch files for the above tasks. You can start (or repeat) every step by simply clicking the appropriate batch file.

Also, there is a manual available now. It is included in the ZIP-file at but you can also access it here for reference.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New version of Slicer uploaded

Changes in version
  • Bug fixed: Some slice numbers caused program errors
  • A single PTGui project can be dragged onto the Slicer icon to start the application with the work file
  • Can now create a batch file which converts the sliced panorama parts for HDView
  • EXIF date for each image in multiplier is re-read. So all batch-created panoramas will show the correct date.
The file can be downloaded as usual on the Slicer page.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

HDView Beta 3 released

Microsoft Labs has released a new version of HDView which now has evolved to a high dynamic range, high resolution image viewer.
The most apparent new features are:
  • the possibility to use 8-, 16-, or 32 bit (HDR) images.
  • New high dynamic range adaption methods: "auto-contrast" and "realtime tonemapping", enabling an adequate display of HDR images.
    This feature comes with a price to pay: You need a reasonably modern GPU which supports pixelshader 2.0 or above. If your GPU doesn't support it, you can still explore the images but you can't use the auto-contrast or tonemapping feature.
  • a new viewing type: fisheye mode. This is very helpful if you have to display a very wide viewing angle, but it is also fun just to play with...
Also, there are a lot of not so apparent things that changed without being noticeable at first glance:
  • Color management: You can embed color profiles which will ensure that the images are best possible viewed on your specific hardware (monitor)
  • You can directly use KML Photo Overlays. This means, images prepared for Google Earth display can be viewed in HDView
  • The 3DConnexion device and the XBox controller can be used as an input device
  • etcetc... Read more about the new version at the HDView blog!

Demonstration and test samples:

Spherical HDR panoramas at

(click image to open list of HDR panoramas)

NY Rooftop by Christian Bloch, EdenFX

(click image to open panorama)

KML Photo Overlay examples,
Images are served directly from the site:

(click image to open)
Original GigaPan image

(click image to open)
Original GigaPan image

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Panotools Meeting 2008 is near

If you haven't booked till now: don't forget the Panotools Meeting 2008 in Prague!
The conference will be held at the FAMU (University of Film and Photography) from Monday 4th August till Thursday 7th August 2008.

For furter information go to the Panotools Meeting Homepage and sign up to the dedicated Yahoo group at

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Worldwide Panorama: Elevation

(Click banner to go to the WWP entry page)

The shooting of June 2008 has been released to the public!

You can see my submission here.
Also, visit a high resolution partial view at

Friday, May 9, 2008

A forgotten place in the heart of Vienna

The old Jewish cementery in Währing is situated directly next to the Metro Station "Nussdorfer Strasse" - though this didn't help the cementery to become a forgotten place.

Although some well-meant singular actions in the past years the place becomes more and more decayed. It will soon be irretrievably ruined if no miracle happens.

The cementery had to be closed to the public - not only because of the threat of vandalism - but also because of the danger by falling trees and open crypts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Movies from the motorbike

I found some spare time to experiment with my "bike-videos" again.
Meanwhile, i have found a smaller recording device than the DV-cam, a Canon Ixus 70. It can take videos at 640x480 with up to 30 fps - a good precondition to capture movement:

The duct tape's purpose is to stabilize the "RAM-Mount", which is constructed to hold a GPS device. The pin-joints are rubberized to dampen the vibrations - but that only provoked the opposite. You end up in having to beat 3 sorts of shakyness:
- Shakyness caused by the surface of the street
- Head wind vibrations (...and the "weak" RAM-Mount)
- Vibrations of the handle bar - making the video unusable at engine speed above 5000 rpm.

So i had to postprocess the video with VirtualDub and the Deshaker plugin. Luckily, Deshaker's standard settings with some tweaking did a pretty good job, as you can see at the borders of this video (It shows the way through the "Weissenbachtal", a street in Upper Austria, connecting the Attersee and Bad Ischl):

Here's an other one, depicting the way along the Hallstaettersee, from the Gosauzwang through Hallstatt to Winkl:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

270 gigapixel images in 3,5 months

(image: View of Santa Monica from "The Shores" luxury apartments, by XRez)

Another incredible project by Greg Downing and his XRez team - an assignment for, a real estate company

On his interview on VRMag, he tells more about it: "The proposal was, to do this kind of image in 147 neighborhoods in 34 cities in 3 1/2 months in order to have the images ready for their new website launch."

Read more about it on the VRMag website!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Metro Praterstern 2008

The last visit to the Subway building site Praterstern, Vienna.
The panoramas show the state of work 2 months before the opening of the metro station (which will happen on May 10th).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Slicer bugfix

Bug fixed in slicer, thanks to Pedro Silva!
More information and download of version at the Slicer page.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vienna seen from Telecom Tower Arsenal

This panorama is published in full resolution (3,3 Gigapixel). It was captured using a Fuji S3, Nikkor 70-300@300mm and my trusty Gigabot.
Shooting the 788 source images took 1 hour. Stitching was done with PTGui in 100 slices (see slicer tool) to increase render speed and minimize needed disk space.

On the upper left corner you can see a small black square. The size of this square represents the size of one source image. This should give you an impression about how small the individual photos actually are.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

All Vienna Metro (Subway) stations

Took some time (years), but now all stations currently in service are photographed ... phew.

You can either load the overlay for Google Earth by visiting this page, or you can explore the Vienna Metro through the Google Maps interface.

Please note: The default station locations provided by the Google Maps interface are partly missing and sometimes completely wrong. Please do not trust Google. Chances are high that you will get lost in Vienna. Use my overlay instead ;-)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Das HDRI-Handbuch in Deutsch

Wie ich meinem Postkasten entnehmen konnte, ist nun die deutsche Übersetzung des "HDRI-Handbook" erhältlich. Auch die DVD mit den Tutorial-Bildern und Programmen (in Deutsch, soweit vorhanden) ist dabei.

Somit können nun auch die Englischverweigerer unter den Fotografen die Vorteile höheren Dynamikumfangs in vollen Zügen geniessen...

(Freut mich übrigens, daß der dpunkt.verlag auch den Co-Autoren automatisch ein Exemplar zukommen läßt - nicht unbedingt selbstverständlich, da das englische Original vor einem Jahr und beim amerikanischen Schwesterverlag rockynook erschienen ist.)

Monday, February 25, 2008 news

  • Pedro Silva kindly contributed 2 exeptional high resolution views of Lisbon/Portugal.
    Click on the thumbnails to explore the panoramas using MS HDView technology:

Lisboa - da Castilho ao Castelo, do Sheraton à Rua do Ouro

Lisboa - Castelo e Baixa