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Friday, August 23, 2013

Architecture - 1

Architecture – When you have to get close

The city of Norcross has a handsome city hall. It is rather difficult to get a good photo of it. Rather than explaining let me show you the problem.

Norcross City Hall LJK_9347-P-1024

You can see a bunch of power lines, the power pole and light posts. Even then my 18mm wise angle lens (24mm 35equiv) couldn’t see it all. Backing up more is not an option on this narrow street. My solution may not be the best and a bit humorous but here is what I did. This work-around may work for you in some situations.

I crossed the street, you can see that little path there. From that vantage point the power lines and poles were not in the field of view. Close-ups were all that was possible even with the wide angle lens. Here is my set of photos:


I took a group of pictures, generously overlapping views. First looking straight at the building, then another rom looking up a bit, and finally another row so I could get the top of the rotunda cleanly. Well, none of these are very impressive by themselves. You can see the perspective distortion problems caused by looking upward.

Next I selected this set in Photo Gallery and clicked on Create > Panorama. Photo Gallery does a fairly nice job; it finds how the photos match – their order does not matter – and even makes exposure corrections while assembling the panorama. I matches the photos, stretching and distorting them so they fit together. Here is what Photo Gallery came up with:

Norcross City Hall LJK_9348-63-P-PGstitch-1024

I did not crop the resulting composite so you can see how Photo Gallery distorted each image and put them together. The power lines and poles are gone, but building now looks a bit “bulgie”.

Can that be corrected? For that a full-fledged photo editing program is needed and even then it is a rather large chore because the stretching and distorting that Photo Gallery has done varied across the image. There is a utility that provides a large range of options for stitching photos together that I really like: Microsoft Image Composite Editor. I call it “ICE”. It is a free download and once installed shows up in Photo Gallery (Create > More tools). So a selected set can be taken right into “ICE”.

One option in ICE is “Perspective” which helps to make sure that the vertical lines are indeed vertical. The close proximity to this building makes the corrections rather, let me just say, “impressive”. So here is my version from Image Composite Editor, cropped this time. That rotunda is a bit overly frivolous maybe, but here is my image of Norcross City Hall:

Norcross City Hall

OK, in response to many requests, here is a view of the PaintShop Pro Mesh Warp tool in action:


The mesh warping tool superposes a grid, each intersection is a drag handle so it can be moved horizontally and vertically to warp the image as desired. For this image the objective was to make the building as natural looking as possible. It takes a bit of playing around with this tool. If the mesh tool does not completely do the job the warping brush can be used to distort a small area at a time. That is even more delicate to apply in a situation like this.

Below is the result using the mesh warping tool.

Norcross City Hall


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