Few tips for PTgui

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I posted some tips for most programs I’m using, but never for the panorama software PTgui. So I’m correcting this today with this blog post :) So here goes:

Increase the number of control points

PTgui is great in combining photos into panoramas, but sometime even it can’t create a nice blend. One thing that can really help, is to adjust the number of control points it’s using. By default this number is quite low, and it may be not enough for all situations. I usually change this to at least 50 control points per pari of images. You can go even higher, but too much may result in very bad performance in PTgui.

PTGUIOpen options
PTGUIChoose a higher number

Load HDR series

PTgui has also support for HDR series, it just has to recognize them. That means, that every series that you want combine into a panorama has to have exactly the same number of exposures, and the same exposure times. If you don’t have this, the HDR series will not be recognized and you will not get the HDR pop-up. In that case, you have to check the exposures, as porobably one or more has a wrong exposure time and this needs to be corrected in the EXIF.

PTGUILoaded series
PTGUIHDR exposure popup

Save blend planes

Another thing, especially for HDR, is the option to save blended planes. This is a must if you want to blend the HDR manually. When you are saving, you can choose if you wnat the blend planes or the HDR photo. Going for blend planes is better, as you can use them in any tonemapping software, and Photoengine or Photomatix give better results in tonemapping then PTgui.

You also can change the quality of what you save by clicking the text that indicates it.

PTGUIChoose quality
PTGUIChoose blended planes

Use 16-bit files

If you use 16-bit files (as you should) you may be surprised by the strange colors PTgui show. This is normal. It will show wrong colors, but the saved ones are correct. So no worries :) Also when you are doing a HDR series, dont worry that the colors and the blends don’t look the best. It’s just a HDR preview, and that is not how it looks after saving.

PTGUIStrange colors when using 16-bit files
PTGUIStrange look when doing HDR

Try different projections

You will notice that PTgui support different projection types. There are three visible, but you get much more by clicking the small triangle next to them. For most cases, the cylindrical is great, but sometimes it’s good to try other even if they are not what you were shooting for. The reason is that the distortion will be different and you may end up needing to crop off much less. Also play around with the two sliders on the sides. PTgui sometimes crops off stuff, and with them you can expand the area of the photo and so get everything you need.

PTGUIEquirectangural projection
PTGUIRectilinear projection

Mask out problem areas

When combining photos for panoramas, it happens quite often, that you have something in one photo (moving people for instance) and a empty space in another. You of course want to use the empty space, but the program chooses the other photo instead. So in this case, you have to go into the mask tab, and using the green and red masks, choose areas that will always be included and those that wont be included. This will help a lot, but be careful so you don’t remove the same area from all photos, as you will end up with a hole. Also to much masking makes PTgui create worse blends, so use it only when needed.

The mask is copied to all the exposures if you are doing a HDR series.

PTGUIChoose mask tab
PTGUIMask wanted and unwanted areas

And that’s all for these tips. Feel free to ask if you have any questions to them.

Taking photos with Magic Lantern

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If you have a Canon camera, I suggest you think about adding Magic Lantern to it. It just gives so many new possibilities and makes it so much easier to use.

For today I chosen one of the more straightforward edits I did recently. As always, first the finished and the original 0EV exposure. As you can see, I needed only to get detail in the shadows and get the colors I wanted.

Close to the bridgeFinished photo
Close to the bridgeOriginal photo

I started as usual in Lightroom, correcting the chromatic aberrations, lens distortion and the horizon line.

Close to the bridgeAll exposures
Close to the bridgeLightroom edit

I synced the settings and exported all files as 16-bitt Tiffs to be loaded into Oloneo Photoengine. There I only changed the strength and contrast and saved the result. In Photoshop I then did the following edits (layers numbered from bottom up):

1. Oloneo Photoengine result
2. +1EV exposure, to recover the colors as the combined image was too red
3. Color balance to tone down the red even more
4. Color Efex Dfine for noise reduction
5. I still felt the image was too red, so I pushed the red hue a little more towards orange
6. Color Efex Pro Darken/Lighten center to create a vignette

Close to the bridgePhotoengine edit
Close to the bridgePhotoshop edit

And that’s all I did with this image. To find out more on how I edit, check out the guides and before after categories on this blog, or check out my video tutorial series here:

When on looks at photos of mountains, it’s really hard to see how big it is. So including something for reference is always nice. So that’s what I did here. The read was surrounded by this huge hills, and the houses around it just looked so tiny in comparison :)

This is a HDR from 3 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.
Small hut under the huge mountain

More huge wallpapers

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I wanted to share with you more 21:9 wallpapers, so today I’m adding three new huge wallpapers. They are again all in 3440x144O, so good for really a lot of screens :) So head over to my Wallpapers page to download them now :)

The fake reflection
Alpine peaks
Above Paris