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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Action-Sequence Panoramas


How to capture time and space in a single frame

This Article Features Photo Zoom

3. In Photoshop, all of the images to be used in the panorama are floating above the working panorama canvas. Here, the first image has been placed, and the second image (Layer 2) already has beenpositioned at 50% opacity by matching the background elements of the two layers.
Next, open all the images on Photoshop's desktop. Select Window > Arrange > Float All in Windows. Make the images small on the desktop so you can see them all at one time.

Create a new blank image file with a white background in the size you estimate the finished panorama will be. You always can enlarge it later. Click on the Move tool, then click and hold on the first image and drag it into position at the left edge of the blank canvas. I prefer to start on the left and work right, but you don't have to do it this way if right-to-left makes more sense to you.

Now, use the Move tool to bring the second image of the sequence onto the canvas. It will be added automatically to the file as Layer 2, obscuring the first image. Line up features in the first image, such as a background tree, with the second by reducing the latter's opacity to 50% so you can see through it. Once aligned, bring the second layer back to 100% opacity and add a white, default layer mask. Select black as your foreground color. Choose a brush with a soft edge, make sure that the layer mask is active, and paint away (erase) the areas of the second image that you want to remove, revealing the important parts of Layer 1. Be sure you're painting with black as the foreground color.


4. The Action-Sequence Panorama, with seven layers, is nearly complete and ready to be cropped, flattened and optimized.
Now, at 100% opacity, a layer mask has been applied to the second image, and unwanted areas are being erased with a soft-edged brush to reveal the important elements of Layer 1 beneath. Observe that the baboon shown in the first image is still partially obscured. When this process is completed, two complete images of the baboon will be composited.

Repeat the process by bringing the third image into the panorama file (it becomes Layer 3), reducing its opacity to 50% and positioning it by matching features in the second image. Bring opacity back to 100%. Add a Layer Mask to Layer 3 and paint away the part of the third image you don't want with the soft-edged brush using the foreground color black. Repeat this process with each new image until you've completed your Action-Sequence Panorama composition.

When you have all the layers in place, check carefully for any mismatches in the composite because you must fix these before you go any further. Adjust the position of subjects if necessary by returning to the layer on which they appear and eliminate any areas that don't line up. Flatten the panorama, crop it and then optimize it in Photoshop, assuring that the images are merged seamlessly. The more you practice, the better you'll be, and what you learn in post-capture will help you to plan better for your next photography session in the field.


The finished Action-Sequence Panorama, with its seven component images displayed across the top.

George D. Lepp shares his far-ranging photography expertise in his regular Tech Tips columns and in articles like this. Visit www.georgelepp.com.

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