Technique: Digital Photo Collages

Sometimes even the widest angle lens isn't wide enough to capture the scene in front of you. Or even if it is, maybe the final exposure doesn't match your experience of scanning a wonderful view and focussing in on small details, as they make up the larger picture.

That's where photo collages come in. A collage (sometimes also called a 'joiner') is a large photographic image made up of a number of separate exposures of the same scene, joined together. How you shoot these individual pictures, and how you join them defines the type of collage you're going to make. You can go naturalistic - where you'd aim to minimise or hide the joins between the separate images, or you can play around and produce a more impressionistic effect. British artist David Hockney is one of the most famous exponents of the technique and you can see some of his work here.

I hiked up to this mountain lake with a superzoom camera, but its widest focal length of 24mm (equivalent) just wasn't wide enough. This image, taken at 24mm, is boring and gives no sense of the scale of the landscape. 

Personally, if I want to create a panoramic image with no joins, I tend to reach for one of the countless compact cameras that offer some variation on the now-common 'sweep panorama' function. But if I want to explore the feeling of being somewhere and looking at a certain view, I'll make a collage. Here's a quick guide to my approach - if you like the results, why not experiment with your own? All you'll need is a software package that allows you to create image files with multiple layers. I'm using Adobe Photoshop CS5 for this example.

Step 1: Exposures

Like all good first steps (well, most anyway) the first step in this technique is the easiest. You've found the scene you want to capture, you've got a camera in your hand, so take a deep breath and prepare to take some pictures. But before you do, set your camera to the JPEG format and select a low resolution. 1MP is enough for the individual shots, given that you're going to create a much larger final image.

Once this is done, get shooting. You want to capture every little detail of this view so don't be afraid to zoom in on small scene elements as well as getting wider-angle shots that include more of the view. Shoot plenty of exposures in both horizontal and vertical formats, and for a more natural look in the final joiner, make sure you take all of the pictures at the same exposure in either manual mode or using exposure lock. Don't be afraid to shoot lots of pictures - you don't have to use them all. 

Step 2: Resizing and importing

Now that you've got back to a computer it's time to load your images into Photoshop and get started. Assuming you shot them in a low resolution mode, you can just drag your files straight into the program and skip the rest of this step, but if you made the mistake of shooting at full resolution, you will need to resize your shots first. If you don't, you might end up with two problems - your computer might crash as Photoshop attempts to open multiple large files at the same time, and even if it doesn't, your final canvas will be absolutely enormous. 

Here, I've selected the source images for my joiner in Adobe Bridge. I shot 16 files in total, and I don't know if I'll need them all, but I want to open them all in Photoshop to see. But first they need to be resized... Despite its name, Camera Raw can open JPEG images. Select the files you want to open, and hit Control+R (or Apple key + R if you're on a Mac). Now select them all again from within this dialog and click on the blue command line at the bottom of the preview window. Here you can set a range of different output resolutions. I want the lowest - 1.4MP. Now I press 'open' and all of my files open up in Photoshop, magically resized. 

There are lots of ways to resize images in a batch, and we published a guide to batch operations in Photoshop here. I was lazy when I shot my exposures and forgot to set a small output resolution, so I needed to sort that out. I've used Adobe's Camera Raw plugin to resize my images though. 

Step 3: The Big Picture (Part 1)

At this point you've got a load of files open in Photoshop but nowhere to put them. The next step then is to make a new document which will serve as the 'pinboard' onto which you'll arrange your pictures as we move towards producing the final image.

In Photoshop, go to File>New and create a new document. How big you want to make this is up to you, but I usually create a really big one so that I've got plenty of space to push and pull images around. I'm going to make my document 20,000 pixels wide and tall. Make sure that the document you create is in RGB color mode and under 'background contents' I've selected 'background color' (this color can be changed later).

Once this is done, simply drag your resized photographs onto the document using the move tool (shortcut key: V) until you're looking at one document, with many different layers. 

Step 4: The Big Picture (Part 2)

Now it's time to start arranging your individual images. With the move tool (shortcut key: V) selected, make sure that in the top toolbar of your Photoshop window you have 'auto select' checked and 'layers' selected. This will allow you to manipulate each layer of your document directly by just clicking and dragging. With this done, let's start clicking and dragging!

Whether you work from the centre of your scene out, or from an outside edge in, is up to you. Don't worry about precise alignment at this stage, just get your images in roughly the right position to create a semblance of the scene you were trying to capture.
 

Step 4: Fine tuning

Now you should have a document that looks something like the scene you wanted to capture, but it's probably pretty chaotic and not that attractive to look at. So now you need to get creative and fine-tune things. This stage can take hours, but as with anything creative, there's no right or wrong way to do it. 

Try experimenting with increasing and decreasing the size of individual images, shuffling them via the 'layers' palette to get the back-to-front alignment how you like it, and even cropping individual pictures and rotating them.

You'll probably find that to get a semi-natural alignment between the different shots you'll need to rotate the peripheral layers anyway, and this is easy using the 'free transform' tool (Edit>Free Transform). You can resize individual layers using this tool too. Just hold down shift as you push and pull the edges of the layer and everything will stay in proportion.

As well as size and rotation can also adjust the exposure of individual layers if you like. If some of your pictures are near-duplicates of others, or just don't fit into the final image, feel free just to push them out to the edges of the document or delete them as layers from within the layers palette. 

Step 5: Final Touches

Hopefully you should now be looking at an image which captures your vision of the scene in front of you when you shot all those photographs in step 1. To finish up, how about experimenting with different colors for your background layer? Black or white are the obvious ones but there's no need to stop there.

I'm not sure that black is the best background for this image so I'm going to go for white. To change the background color in Photoshop find the tools palette (View>Tools) and double click on the bottommost square at the very base of the toolbar. Then just select the background color you want from the dialog. I'm going to add a black border to my image, and the simplest way is just to add a slim black extension to the canvas. I've gone to Image>Canvas Size and entered a figure, in %, for how much larger I want the canvas should be. 105% should do it.

Once you're happy, I'd recommend saving your document as a .PSD file. This will preserve all of the layers so you can come back to it in the future and tweak things more if you want to. Once this is done, and you have a .PSD safely on file somewhere, flatten the image (Layer>Flatten) and crop to the border that you like, using the crop tool. Then save and close, print, publish or just sit back and admire your handiwork. 

Other Images

Photo collages are pretty versatile. Here are some other examples which might give you some ideas about when and where you might want to employ the technique. 

It isn't just landscapes that can benefit from the wider field of view of a photo joiner. It's a fun way of capturing interiors, too. 
The view from my office window, one snowy morning. I used exposure lock on the foreground exposures to make sure the snow didn't result in underexposure.  Another interior scene, in a London bar.  This image was put together from photographs captured by a cameraphone - you don't need expensive equipment if your individual pictures are only going to be used at <2MP...

Barnaby Britton is Reviews Editor of dpreview.com. You can see a selection of his after-hours work at www.photoinsensitive.com

Comments

Total comments: 107
12
HeyItsJoel
By HeyItsJoel (10 months ago)

Why? This is what we used to do by taping photos developed from film and now you want to do it again except now, digitally? Talk about going backwards.

0 upvotes
Pangloss
By Pangloss (10 months ago)

Very nice tutorial/HOWTO style article, well illustrated and well-written. Thanks! It's so great to learn a new technique like that.

0 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS
By JEROME NOLAS (11 months ago)

Looks like Chevy logo....

0 upvotes
afsheenaziz
By afsheenaziz (Jul 18, 2012)

Be careful of dictionary definitions. They are, by nature, retrospective. Technically it isn't image stitching as there is no attempt at correcting alignment or blending. What is described here is a collage made with digital images rather than paper and paste. Keep up! This IS the 21st century after all!
Nice. I too used this technique before digital cameras, and with photoshop later on. Allows also to contract space between objects (people), for example if publishing format is small and you have a group of people to present. The look of "pieceramas" is refreshing occasionally used.

0 upvotes
lbspaints
By lbspaints (Jul 7, 2012)

I like the panoramics! I do this also but of other objects (from horse shows or pulling events). Just wish I had more time to do more of them for what I do.

0 upvotes
wy2lam
By wy2lam (Jun 23, 2012)

Very nice - although the idea of collages have been around for a while, it's time to take a break from panoramic stitching :)

1 upvote
thomash2
By thomash2 (Jun 22, 2012)

I want to contribute an article about spherical panoramic photography which I think would compliment this article, I even emailed contributors@dpreview.com my 1st page draft of 3 pages, but no one replied!!! It would be an article about how to create photos like these, with seamless stitching and a complete 360x180 sphere: http://www.thomashuang.net/nz2/nz2.html

0 upvotes
jimTN
By jimTN (Jun 28, 2012)

I love your pictures. Please write up your method and post a link.

0 upvotes
amicus70
By amicus70 (Jun 20, 2012)

Interesting, really. But I find these pictures far to busy. Especially at the transitions between the original pictures. You don't know what to look at in the picture of the London bar or in the picture of the living room. I think they would be better, if there are transitions like some panorama apps are able to create...

0 upvotes
Fixx
By Fixx (Jun 19, 2012)

Nice. I too used this technique before digital cameras, and with photoshop later on. Allows also to contract space between objects (people), for example if publishing format is small and you have a group of people to present. The look of "pieceramas" is refreshing occasionally used.

I use too Gigapano Pro to stitch. Notice that it is not necessary to crop resulting image rectangular but you can keep the border original irrugular one. That way, inside part is stitched clean but outside border reveals it is made of individual shots.

BTW, ICE is win only, no Mac version.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Jun 18, 2012)

"hit Command+R (or Apple key + R if you're on a Mac)"

There is no "Command" if you are NOT on Mac.

2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jun 18, 2012)

Sorry, it's been so long since used a PC (crosses himself). I'll fix that.

0 upvotes
Graham Dew
By Graham Dew (Jun 18, 2012)

Thanks Barney, it’s good to see an article about this powerful but often neglected technique.

For those who are interested in joiners and photocollage you should really have a look at the work of Noel Myles (http://www.noelmyles.co.uk/) who has explored many different approaches that joiners enable, particularly in the form of ‘Still Movies’. I’ve also written a number of posts about joiners and a review of Noel Myles’ recent exhibition on my blog Joined Up Pictures (http://joined-up-pictures.blogspot.com/).

2 upvotes
anyurtan
By anyurtan (Jun 18, 2012)

My old collage
http://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/5403/anyurtan.3/0_35aa0_962efaea_XL.jpg

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Mojo Tooth
By Mojo Tooth (Jun 18, 2012)

Am I the only one who went straight to Google Earth and reverse-engineered where the author works based on the snowy panorama? :) Don't worry, no ill intent. I try to do the same thing with outdoorsy shots when possible. The cityscape just makes it 10x easier. Nice work, btw

2 upvotes
Myallegro31
By Myallegro31 (Jun 18, 2012)

I think you are indeed the only person that did that... In fact, that would never have crossed my mind in 100 years... :)

2 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Jun 19, 2012)

I do that with descriptions in books, mostly using Streetview, but not photos. Ugh, now I'll be doing it for sure. Google Earth is a powerful tool and an even better time sink.

0 upvotes
Myallegro31
By Myallegro31 (Jun 19, 2012)

How in the world would you do that??????

0 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Jun 20, 2012)

Take what you know and apply detective work. Just like solving any other puzzle.

0 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (Jun 18, 2012)

Coool. I like this.

0 upvotes
Dpreviewmember
By Dpreviewmember (Jun 17, 2012)

After reading your article I found that Hugin is a great free program to seamless stitches, and PhotoWall to easily build artistic collages.

I have to agree with others that today you can work, even on a modern laptop , with full resolution images, to build 2D panoramas for wall size prints for instance.

For an extreme example I fund a 3D collage, of more than 1600 21.4MP photos landscape from Dresden. Made with a robotic arm, of course, and stitched using a PC cluster with 16 processors and lots of RAM in 94hrs, you have to check this out :

http://www.dresden-26-gigapixels.com/dresden26GP

Best.

0 upvotes
KennethDante
By KennethDante (Jun 21, 2012)

The Gigapixel Dresden is flippin cool as hell.

0 upvotes
Vitruvius
By Vitruvius (Jun 17, 2012)

The seamless panorama stitches are amazing but this is more interesting because it breaks the scene up into parts and each part has a relaioonship to the adjacent parts. It is this relationship between each part that makes it more interestinng to visually explore the scene.

2 upvotes
balico
By balico (Jun 17, 2012)

Beside an issue with memory and diskspace, I don't see any reason to reduce resolution and/or shooting jpg during the shoot.

My advise is to shoot every shot at maximum resolution and in raw in every case as resolution can be scaled down on the computer (before merging) when needed but still offers flexibility to use the larger resolution files later on.
Raw should be used at any time to give more flexibility with adjusting white-balance, highlight / shadow detail etc. As you capture a wide scene there is a big chance that the dynamic range is larger as well, which can be better taken care of with raw files.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
balico
By balico (Jun 17, 2012)

What I miss in this article is that you have to shoot the images with an overlap of between 10% (minimum) - 40% to get the images merged well (and not lose to many pixels). All in all not a very good explanation of this technique I feel.

1 upvote
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Jun 18, 2012)

But this isn't about merging. It would be a poor explanation of merging if it were about merging, I'll give you that. And if it were about merging it would be remiss to leave out reference for the need to allow 10-40% overlap. But it isn't about merging.

3 upvotes
balico
By balico (Jun 26, 2012)

Why is this not called "merging" Simon?
My dictionary says; Merge = "to combine, blend, or unite gradually so as to blur the individuality or individual identity".

Reading the article again, it seems a very primitive (creative?) way to make a collage by transforming the images manually to line up, and can be done a lot quicker with software like Hugin or the merge function in PS, provided that the images are shot with overlap.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Tcesko
By Tcesko (Jun 17, 2012)

Hi everybody! As for me, the goal is to shoot a wider panorama or to have a photo collage. In the second case, you don't mind about differences in exposition and size (also in prospective) because you're looking for a artistic shoot, a new 'vision'. In the first case, you'd like have a clear shoot, in hig resolution and wide composition, in order to show the entire of the detail of the scene. You know, there are some enormous shoots of skyline, big as gigabytes: a very detailed panorama! I don't want to complain with the writer, neither with other poster: as for me, it's just a question of final goal. By the way, I use Photostich software for my panorama, a program came with Canon User CD.
Here a link for example
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tcesko/7202932190/in/set-72157629739772414/
I know, there are the seems and you can count every single shoot I've made ;-)

2 upvotes
Robert R Stone
By Robert R Stone (Jun 17, 2012)

Of course, Photoshop can do this automatically. Group the images in camera raw then choose Tools, Photoshop, Photomerge....

0 upvotes
cxsparc
By cxsparc (Jun 17, 2012)

If your intention is to create a picture that clearly is a collage, this approach may be right. If your intention is to get wider coverage and later be able to explore the scene in depth, it is not useful.

I found that shooting from the same position several shots, it is a simple breeze of a matter of seconds to load them into the free Microsoft I.C.E and auto-arrange them as panorma.

Advantage 1: Speed
Advantage 2: Low effort
Advantage 3: High resolution, you you can crop or just zoom into details.

I was able to discover my wife waiting for me in a panorama from a distance of 60 m hidden in a crowd and ruins. That is what I would call exploring the scene.

1 upvote
scrambler2
By scrambler2 (Jun 18, 2012)

+1 for ICE, so easy and so tolerant, no need to pay attention to exposure or things like that, It will stitch and correct an create uniform seemless image.
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/

0 upvotes
WesternSage
By WesternSage (Jun 17, 2012)

Great article. I am mostly a 'straight photography' person, so this helped 'expand the box' of my thinking.

By the way, I think many of the posters here forgot to read the statement in step 4, Barnaby said: "...but as with anything creative, there's no right or wrong way to do it." So if you want to do a collage, with with full resolution raw files from a D800 then go right ahead, just don't shoot the messenger ok?

1 upvote
Zafar Kazmi
By Zafar Kazmi (Jun 16, 2012)

col·lage
   [kuh-lahzh, koh-] Show IPA noun, verb, col·laged, col·lag·ing.
noun
1.
a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another, as newspaper clippings, parts of photographs, theater tickets, and fragments of an envelope.

What is described here is image stitching/panorama, not collage.

2 upvotes
Wildbegonia
By Wildbegonia (Jun 16, 2012)

I guess, we all get a F mark on our Art History 101 course.

0 upvotes
martin0reg
By martin0reg (Jun 17, 2012)

True these are different thhings. Someone who wants to make collages doesn't stitch.

Which version of photoshop elemants is recommended? CS is much too expensive for me..
...or is there other software (perhaps free) which can do easily "collaging"? With easy operation of the main thing: arranging sizing and rotating the imageges

0 upvotes
Stuart001
By Stuart001 (Jun 17, 2012)

Be careful of dictionary definitions. They are, by nature, retrospective. Technically it isn't image stitching as there is no attempt at correcting alignment or blending. What is described here is a collage made with digital images rather than paper and paste. Keep up! This IS the 21st century after all!

0 upvotes
martin0reg
By martin0reg (Jun 17, 2012)

It is not about definitions, it is about the" look" and an appropriate description for it.
Yes it is the 21st century - but I want to have this imperfection and look of a pin board for this special purpose.
But what about the software (arranging, rotating, sizing)? PS CS, elements or free editor?

2 upvotes
centvrion1
By centvrion1 (Jun 17, 2012)

@martin0reg: you can easily go in the same way with "the GIMP". You don't have to spend a buck for this. =)

0 upvotes
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Jun 18, 2012)

'What is described here is image stitching...' Really?

0 upvotes
BlackZero
By BlackZero (Jun 18, 2012)

For goofs like me, I recommend Picasa. It can create collages as a matter of fun. As easy as ABC.

0 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Jun 19, 2012)

That definition would have been adequate in 1930, but it omits the evolution of collage since that time. The late Matisse collages, probably the greatest and most famous of all, were made from plain pieces of paper painted in the colors he wanted, then torn and glued (he was too infirm to paint by then.) The Hockney works have always been described as collages, and they are just amazing in real life.

0 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Jun 19, 2012)

That definition would have been adequate in 1930, but it omits the evolution of collage since that time. The late Matisse collages, probably the greatest and most famous of all, were made from plain pieces of paper painted in the colors he wanted, then torn and glued (he was too infirm to paint by then.) The Hockney works have always been described as collages, and they are just amazing in real life.

0 upvotes
martin0reg
By martin0reg (Jun 19, 2012)

@blackzero
I have just tried picasa for collaging. Seems to be easy arranging and rotating. But I see no option for sizing!?

0 upvotes
keltos
By keltos (Jun 16, 2012)

I use the open source program Hugin to do my panoramas/collages

http://hugin.sourceforge.net/

a really great tool !

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
AlpCns2
By AlpCns2 (Jun 17, 2012)

Absolutely true, I prefer it to Photoshop. Hugin is very advanced, has some brilliant features and is easy to use.

1 upvote
centvrion1
By centvrion1 (Jun 17, 2012)

Hey...I use Hugin too: really great piece of software...
but -perhaps- here there's another aim: create the "collage effect"...hence: why doing so many corrections[exposure...]? I think the showed technique is a bit different from Fischinger's and Hockney's one: they leave shots as they are in order to show -not to hide- seams and single pictures. It seems like he[the Author] doesn't know the existence of Hugin or ICE to create real panos...I don't see a much clear artistic intent in creating a collage effect in this way: hence below I suggested using Hugin.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
ClickJohnClick
By ClickJohnClick (Jun 17, 2012)

I read this article thinking "that's cool, like to try that some time". But as an amateur I can barely justify the price of Lightroom, don't want to buy Photoshop Elements, and PS CS is out of the question!

You talking about Hugin (good program, a little buggy but works well for me 90% of the time) got me thinking about using open source to achieve what Barney Britton's doing here. It's obvious! The GIMP. Thanks buddy.

0 upvotes
martin0reg
By martin0reg (Jun 16, 2012)

A very good article and so are the collages, thank you.
I am a fan of hockney for a long time.

What version of photoshop is needed?
Are there other (perhaps free) editors, which can do this?

2 upvotes
Wildbegonia
By Wildbegonia (Jun 16, 2012)

Thank you Mr.Britton. Just love this mini virtual workshop, thank you for sharing it with us. I specially liked it because Collage is one of my fine art practices : cutting, ripping, glueing paper and all the rest.
May I dare a suggestion for the next workshop? The art of Chris Friel, British photographer who does photography that imitates art not natural realism.

1 upvote
englishservices
By englishservices (Jun 16, 2012)

For some more nice panographies, check out those by the German photographer Mareen Fischinger at http://mareenfischinger.de/projects/panography/#

Here she describes how she does it. Even a PS newbie such as I could imitate her technique after watching this 12-minute video: http://vimeo.com/8964680

2 upvotes
gnohz
By gnohz (Jun 16, 2012)

This looks like a creative way to piece smaller parts to achieve an overall picture. Thanks for posting :)

1 upvote
Julian
By Julian (Jun 16, 2012)

I've tried something similar to this several times. Personally I think the technique has value - you can show closeups for points of interest - and merge them with a wideangle scene - and it leaves and distinctive result that stands out - a useful technique for selling appartments etc.

0 upvotes
Captain Hook
By Captain Hook (Jun 16, 2012)

Sorry,

The first time I saw this article, I thought, it must be a joke...?
But it isn't...:-(

And the resulting image? Sorry, no go.

Seriously, get some pano skills and use tools like ICE, Hugin, PTGui (or whatever) to create wider/broader/more detailled views.

0 upvotes
technotic
By technotic (Jun 16, 2012)

At first I thought your reply was a joke. But it isn't. Seriously, get some manners.

8 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Jun 16, 2012)

You've missed the point.

5 upvotes
Captain Hook
By Captain Hook (Jun 17, 2012)

"get some manners"?
I didn't use any offensive word. I just expressed my opinion about the author's opening sentence:
"Sometimes even the widest angle lens isn't wide enough to capture the scene in front of you. Or even if it is, maybe the final exposure doesn't match your experience of scanning a wonderful view and focussing in on small details, as they make up the larger picture."
And I don't think this is the way to get those details or the 'feeling' of that impressive scene in front of you.
Carefull pano stitching and planning your individual shots DOES.

Apparently I missed the point...(?)

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
technotic
By technotic (Jun 17, 2012)

Effectively describing the article as a joke and dismissively saying "get some pano skills" is I believe quite rude. You can be critical if you like but to me your language was discourteous.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
MartinsB
By MartinsB (Jun 16, 2012)

At first I thought where's the final finished picture?, but then I realized - this is "art".

1 upvote
Nikonworks
By Nikonworks (Jun 16, 2012)

Doesn't work for me.

Your 'collages' are like serving good coffee in a Mickey Mouse shaped cup.

The cup distracts you from the taste of the coffee in the cup.

The best for regular panos is ICE.

One of its best features is the ability to even out exposures from frame to frame,
unlike your exposures which have adjoining frames with significant exposure variations which make for even more distractions for viewers of your collages.

My first thought upon viewing your collages was "This is the work of a very lazy shooter".

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
centvrion1
By centvrion1 (Jun 16, 2012)

I fully agree with you. If I can give you a hint, try Hugin: it's even better than ICE.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Nikonworks
By Nikonworks (Jun 16, 2012)

Thanks for the tip, I will try it.

0 upvotes
technotic
By technotic (Jun 16, 2012)

Did you actually read the article?

5 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Jun 16, 2012)

Collage and related art techniques have been around for over a century, and photo collages for decades. The artistry is in the images selected and their arrangement. If instead you want a slick, seamless panorama the tools are out there to make them. No artistry required.

2 upvotes
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (Jun 17, 2012)

Max Ernst objected to the term "collage". He said (I paraphrase) "if it's the plume that constitutes the plumage, it isn't the col (glue) which makes the collage"
Fascinating facts...

0 upvotes
Stuart001
By Stuart001 (Jun 17, 2012)

I find it amazing that Barney Britton tries to give people another alternative to traditional panoramas, and gets pilloried for his efforts. A lot of people seem to be saying 'you don't know what you're doing. You should be using ICE/Hugin/ etc.' What rot. If you want to produce a panorama, do it. If you want to expand your repertoire and produce something that is visually interesting, open yourself up to other ideas.

0 upvotes
ClickJohnClick
By ClickJohnClick (Jun 18, 2012)

This article describes a collage, not stitching. It's a highly creative and artistic way of melding multiple images, nothing to do with mathematical algorithm based programs like ICE and Hugin.

The "work of a very lazy shooter" comment shows you've totally missed the point of this article. And probably not read it either; see step 4: fine tuning "This stage can take hours, but as with anything creative, there's no right or wrong way to do it." Nothing lazy about this. If you want to be lazy, do a stitched pano.

Many in the fine arts sneer at photographers as not "real" artists and lacking genuine creativity. You've just proved their point.

0 upvotes
Pasadena Perspective
By Pasadena Perspective (Jun 18, 2012)

I think that some people are forgetting that with a program like Microsoft ICE, you can export the result as a layered PSD. In other words, you can start your collage in that fashion and then continue by applying more of the TLC that is described in the article. It doesn't have to be one or the other and it doesn't have to be program exclusive.

1 upvote
John Koch
By John Koch (Jun 16, 2012)

No mention of fish-eye lenses. Are they an alternative? Inviariably, straight lines, whether of buildings, roads, or horizons, will show bends or breaks. A corollary issue might be collages that vertically join several shots taken in a panorama mode, which also embed some optical distortion. Of course, the human eye itself skirts the matter by limiting focal vision to a relatively narrow swath. We sense an immense breadth of vision, but most of it is a blur.

0 upvotes
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (Jun 16, 2012)

Hockney's latest video implementation of this technique uses multiple DSLRs (Canon 5D2's I believe) attached to a rig mounted on the front of a vehicle. This technique was displayed at his recent mega show at the RA in London. It looks extremely interesting and effective. As did his still collages at the time he was doing them in the US. I hate to say it but doing this with digital stills nowadays is a bit tired-looking. Of course it eliminates the need to learn how to do seamless panoramic stitching, which may make it more attractive...

0 upvotes
ChrisKramer1
By ChrisKramer1 (Jun 16, 2012)

Considering that prime lenses are becoming ever more popular, this is a useful article. I started using this technique with the D90 and 35mm lens and found it produced more than acceptable results using the photomerge function on PS6. However, quickly changing light, depth of field and of course, people, cars and birds can prove problematic. Scenes very rarely stay the same even for a few seconds... The advantage is that you can produce larger images which you can crop more effectively.

0 upvotes
centvrion1
By centvrion1 (Jun 16, 2012)

In my opinion, Hugin is the most powerful tool...even if using its full potential is a bit complex. Try it...it's free!![I think it would cost hundreds if it wasn't...]
The above described method sounded me a bit ridiculous compared to the power of Hugin...not to mention results...
I like Hugin because has many automatisms, corrections[distortion and vignetting through "fulla", seamless junctions...] and freedom degrees[you can choose proiection, point of view,...].It also has batch processing!

DISCLAIMER: photography is a form of art...and every artist has the freedom to choose the tools he likes the most. All what I've written is IMHO!!

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
mac
By mac (Jun 16, 2012)

...or you can download Microsoft's Digital ICE (Image Composite Editor). It's free and magic! I realise I'm missing the point a bit, but those David Hockney style collages became a bit passe after the '70's.. I prefer a stitched pano that looks like it wasn't stitched!

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
anksjdhv
By anksjdhv (Jun 16, 2012)

Thanks a lot for this article. I have made a few collages, but they are unpublished because I treated them as "pano gone wrong way!" But now I love my collages!!

1 upvote
RoelHendrickx
By RoelHendrickx (Jun 16, 2012)

Thanks for the article. The result of your efforts definitely looks more interesting than the standard stitched panorama.
BTW, did anyone see the publicity video that Olympus did on the first introduction of the PEN? It can be regarded as the video equivalent of this technique : hundreds of individual photos that together form a collage of an man's entire life. Great advert!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9Et7UQh1tg
Really! You should check it out.
Roel

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Rowbear
By Rowbear (Jun 17, 2012)

Very good indeed :)

0 upvotes
Mousehound
By Mousehound (Jun 16, 2012)

I used this style many times about 15 years ago with film/prints. I incorporated into several exhibitions - I was working as an artist at the time. It was interesting to see the ammount of interest it generated from the public - often a lot more than the standard (if better technically) landscapes etc. This is often about subverting the technical obsesion of photography. It may also be about getting a more sculptural effect than the confines of a rectangle. Something I really like to do every now and then. Frees me up a lot to re-examine creativity.

4 upvotes
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Jun 16, 2012)

Jeremy kost is tearing up the art world with his collages of polaroids. The old is new once again. That said, you make an excellent point. People love anything different. Witness the explosion of popularity hdr enjoys. I like to invent new interesting looks (loving some of the in camera filters...and even instagram has created some interesting pics for me) and I think its great to think outside of the box. Quite honestly though, I get the most enjoyment from just my own flavor of straight photography. I love black and white and I love using old lenses to give more of that look. I'm a firm believer that great photos never go out of style. People generally appreciate quality. The more my quality improves the more I get noticed. Sorry for the ramble. I would love to see your work. A lot of my stuff is on fb and flickr. Just look for zosxavius / zos xavius.

1 upvote
CBuff
By CBuff (Jun 16, 2012)

Author said "but if you made the mistake of shooting at full resolution, you will need to resize your shots first"

This is one of the worst advice I ever saw in an article.

Memory is cheap: get multiple memory sticks
Storage is cheap: buy more hard disks
RAM is cheap: jupgrade your PC,it won't crash

We use to spend fortunes on film, development chemicals, papers, ... It is so cheap now, I fail to see why would anyone would want to save by shooting low resolution.

Who knows... That shot that you took at a mediocre resolution might turn to be the stunner of the trip. Why take a chance for a couple of 00s?.

3 upvotes
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Jun 16, 2012)

I thought the same thing. I regularly stitch 16-20 shot panoramas in ps. Full resolution. Its amazing. I can open them all at once too. My pc doesn't even get on its knees. Time to upgrade that pentium 3 son.

2 upvotes
thielges
By thielges (Jun 17, 2012)

The primary constraint is RAM. Everyone has enough flash cards and disk space for full sized images. But when you place a bunch of them into a single canvas with multiple layers, it can really eat up the RAM. All computers have an upper bound on the amount of RAM allowed and if you're already up against that constraint then the only solutions are either to buy a bigger computer or do what Barnaby recommends: work with downsized images. Seems like a reasonable suggestion. And keep in mind that too many pixels can be a waste when it comes time to print. If the individual photos in the lead image here were shot at 12MP then the composite would be over 140MP. You'd have to create a print the size of a van to use all of those pixels.

0 upvotes
Dpreviewmember
By Dpreviewmember (Jun 15, 2012)

Thanks for this idea Barney !

I never thought about doing a 2D Panorama, always using vertical or horizontal stitching software. Although I get the artistic impression in your examples, which I like, I also would like to see some "perfectionist" ones that could be useful to make large prints of landscapes, the size of walls for instance, retaining huge resolutions.

Could you point me to some free software to do perfect photo fusions,
as automatic as possible ?

BTW I found 'FotoWall', a great free program, very easy to use, to do exactly what you showed us in your examples, much quicker than PhotoShop or The Gimp. It works as if you were playing with an iPad, but using the mouse instead. Has rotation, translation, resize, art and transparency options.

Cheers.

0 upvotes
l_d_allan
By l_d_allan (Jun 15, 2012)

Seems like this article was written for a 5+ year old computer with very small amount of DRAM. With anything close to a modern computer, there wouldn't be much if any need for reducing the resolution.

Even if the pano/compositing utility only accepted .jpg or .tif, I'd still start in RAW to tweak (WB, exposure, etc), then generate .jpg or .tif for the composite.

1 upvote
zos xavius
By zos xavius (Jun 16, 2012)

Yeah. This reads like "lets take a great idea and execute it as mediocre as possible." Something like this could be the basis for a huge print, but not if you are using 1mp images.

1 upvote
Sergeg
By Sergeg (Jun 15, 2012)

ICE is nice, and there are other Freeware/Shareware apps out there that will do collages and Panoramas. I own 5 commercial apps and have settled on my personal favorite choice, AutoPano Pro from KOLOR. Had an acceptance in their annual Panoramas book in 2011. Have posted many panos in these forums stitched with that software.

The thechnique described here will appeal to some, it is based on the analog method of sticking together prints, and IMHO defeats the purpose of the precision that digital photography affords. Rather labored and hodge podge, with mixed results. But as someone has said, in the spirit of community sharing, it has a place. Thanks for sharing.

1 upvote
fotopaul
By fotopaul (Jun 15, 2012)

I can only agree... I am using "hugin" which I think includes another implementation of AutoPano (though I'm not up to speed with the currently used plugins), and the results are nothing short of amazing. In that light, and considering how easy it is to get these results (for free), I personally prefer that over the "hand stitched" feeling the method described in this article delivers.

It's all a matter of preference ofc - either way we're now 1 option richer from which we can choose from :)

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
1 upvote
jon404
By jon404 (Jun 15, 2012)

From the post below --"Of course, the point of the article is not seamless stitching, but intentionally giving the effect of a pile of prints lined up to form a larger image."

If you don't worry too much about perfectly lining up the images, you get into gigapixel territory pretty fast and easily, don't you? This looks like it might be fun to make a monster image and then stick it on a webpage for viewing. It would have to be interesting, like the logjam above -- much more interesting than, say, a highly-detailed interior pic of my garage.

0 upvotes
BradJudy
By BradJudy (Jun 15, 2012)

ICE will also work with RAW under Windows if you have the FastPictureViewer codec installed. Of course, you'll likely get better results doing your own RAW conversion and then using ICE. I have done dozens of panos and other stiches with ICE and I've been quite happy.

Of course, the point of the article is not seamless stitching, but intentionally giving the effect of a pile of prints lined up to form a larger image.

0 upvotes
Element42
By Element42 (Jun 15, 2012)

I was wrong. ICE (see below) also does TIFF. Best thing: it is free.

0 upvotes
Element42
By Element42 (Jun 15, 2012)

Hmmmh. I like the concept but I think there may be better ways to stitch than PS. Here's an MS Labs tool called ICE. It works with JPGs but the results are very good.
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/
Thoughts?

1 upvote
Shu Miller
By Shu Miller (Jun 15, 2012)

nothing attractive or even interesting about this technique. most of the images in this "hodge-podge" style lose their value, imo. shu

2 upvotes
Bill Bentley
By Bill Bentley (Jun 15, 2012)

I don't want to slam here, because sharing is what the photo community should be all about, but this technique does not appeal to me at all.

The other technique of combining hundreds of similar sized photos to create a "face" or other "new image" I find mildly appealing.

1 upvote
Brent Lossing
By Brent Lossing (Jun 15, 2012)

I like it. I did not reallize how stuck I was to the normal picture format until I saw these. It is like a series of impressions rolled into one view.

Thanks!

0 upvotes
Total comments: 107
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