Category Archives: Panoramic

How To Clean Up Your Panoramic Photos Part 2: Content Aware Fill

Chances are, you’ll end up with a few unwanted objects in your panoramic photo.  Perhaps it’s a power line that’s sagging in the frame. Or it’s an unwanted tourist walking through the shot. Fortunately, Photoshop offers a suite of tools for removing objects and hiding blemishes. In this first part we look at the Content Aware fill command introduced in Photoshop CS5.

The Content-Aware fill option is a new command in Photoshop CS5.  It allows you to select an area then fill it with a texture that was automatically generated based on pixels surrounding the selection. What happens is that Photoshop randomly synthesizes similar content to fill the area based on the surrounding source image. This is a great way to remove an object or blemish from a shot. In some cases it completes the job in one step; in others it offers a great jump-start and can be touched up with cloning or healing.

A rough selection was made with the Lasso tool (left). The Content-Aware fill command does a good job of removing the object (center). A quick use of the Clone Stamp tool completes the touchup (right).

In order to use the command, you’ll need a selection.  We find that the Lasso tool works fine or the Quick Selection tool.  You’ll want to make the selection slightly larger than the targeted area.  To create a gentle transition zone, be sure to choose Select > Modify > Feather and enter a value of 5–25 pixels to blend the selection.

To access the Content Aware Fill command, you’ll need to see the Fill dialog box.

To access the Fill dialog box (and Content-Aware fill) just press Shift+Delete.

  1. Choose Edit > Fill to bring up the Fill dialog box.
  2. Choose the Content-Aware fill from the Use menu and click OK. The command may take a few moments to process if you’re working with a high-resolution image.
  3. If you don’t like the first attempt Content-Aware fill generates, just choose Edit > Undo and then repeat the Content-Aware fill command.

This post is adapted from the book Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques.  If you want to learn how to mix panoramic photos with video (and much more) check out the book.

How To Clean Up Your Panoramic Photos Part 1: Clone Stamp

Chances are, you’ll end up with a few unwanted objects in your panoramic photo. Perhaps it’s a power line that’s sagging in the frame. Or it’s an unwanted tourist walking through the shot. Fortunately, Photoshop offers a suite of tools for removing objects and hiding blemishes. In this second part we look at the Clone Stamp tool.

If you’ve used Photoshop for a long time, you’ve surely come to rely on the Clone Stamp tool. It can produce predictable and accurate results with just a little practice. It works by sampling pixels from one area of an image and painting them in another. What makes the tool so useful is that it relies on the flexibility of Photoshop’s Brush panel. This allows you to adjust the size and hardness of the brush as well as the opacity of the stroke. When cloning, be sure to use a softer brush. You can quickly adjust the hardness of brush by holding the shift key and press [ (for softer) or ] (for harder).

The Clone Stamp tool is a quick way to remove distracting blemishes from an image.

The most useful option when cloning to is specify the desired alignment of the brush. In the Options bar, you have two choices.

  • If Aligned is selected, the sample point and painting point move parallel as you brush. If you click again and start over, the sample point picks up relative to the current brush position.
  • If Aligned is deselected, the initial sample point is re-used. The second method ensures that you are always sampling from the same area but the first produces more visual variety if using a large textured area.

To set the source point for cloning, simply Option+click (Alt+click) within the current document. You can also use another open document as a source (just be sure that it is set to the same color mode). This defines the source point for sampled pixel data.

To get the best results, try these performance tips:

  • Try cloning at a lower opacity from several different places to fill in a problem area. This way you can avoid too much repetition in the pattern.
  • Try to “follow the line” by looking for edges to follow in the image. Look to follow the natural curves and linear paths that are present.
  • You can clone from all visible layers by specifying Use All Layers. This is useful if you want to clone to an empty layer at the top of your document while sampling from the layers below.

This post is adapted from the book Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques. If you want to learn how to mix panoramic photos with video (and much more) check out the book.

Perfectly Clear for Landcapes and Panos

I caught up with Athentech Imaging to learn about a new imaging plugin called Perfectly Clear. Normally I am skeptical of plug-ins and rely on the core features of Photoshop or Aperture to get things done. But this plug-in really caught my eye in that it quickly enhanced images.  It struck me as being a useful tool for landscape imagery and worth trying.

Download the demo and post your thoughts here.

For you iPhone and iPad users, it’s also avaialable as an app.

Three Tips for Better Panoramic Photographs

Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference.  Here’s three quick tips to getting bette panoramic photos.

The Hand Knows

When you are out shooting panoramic photos, its pretty easy to get a ton of photos.  When you jump into post into post you can get a little overwhelmed.  Where does one pano end and the next begin?

© Richard Harrington

That’s easy… just hold up your hand in between shots to signify a scene break. When you’re browsing in Bridge, Lightroom, or Aperture the scene break is easy to spot.

Go Manual

We’ve all come a little too dependent on the computers inside our cameras.  But when shooting panoramic photos its critical to switch back to manual mode.

© iStockphoto | mikerogal

The last thing you want is for the aperture to change and your depth of field to vary as you pan,  You’ll also want to avoid exposure variation as well.  This manual override goes for both the camera and the lens… go for full control.  I recommend taking a few test shots from around the arc and adjust your settings then let it rip and shoot the whole pano.

Get an L Bracket

Ideally, you want to shoot in portrait mode.  This will allow for the least amount of bending as you rotate the camera around.  Essentially you are creating a circle out of several rectangles.  A portrait orientation allows for more sides to the shape, hence a smoother curve. Unfortunately most cameras mount to their tripods in landscape mode.

© Richard Harrington

One option is to look for a tripod with a titling plate.  This works well, but does introduce a slight distortion to the image.  A better option is to get a L-bracket for your camera.  This makes it easy to rotate the camera 90˚.  I use a bracket and tripod mount from Really Right Stuff (  While they are a premium grade, they offer plates made to fit specific camera models precisely.  Camera controls and ports are not blocked by the L-plate.

What’s Your Secret?

Do you have any great tips for better panoramic photos?  Please post them below.

Stitching Vertical Panoramic Photos

The technology that powers the Photomerge command can also be harnessed to stitch together vertical shots. The Auto-Align Layers command is a useful way to stitch together multiple shots or scans of a large object or a group photo. The command is very easy to use and produces impressive results.

  1. Choose File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack to combine two or more files into one document.
  2. In the Load Layers dialog box, click the Browse button to navigate to the files you need.
  3. Select multiple images from a folder, and click Open.
  4. In the Load Layers dialog box select the check box next to Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images.
  5. Click OK. Photoshop opens both images and aligns them, and does a good job (especially since the top layer was taken at such an angle). This alignment can be refined even further.
  6. Make sure all the layers are selected in the Layers panel.
  7.  Choose Edit > Auto Align Layers.
  8. Select the Auto option to enable both Vignette Removal and Geometric Distortion options for Lens Correction.
  9. Click OK. Photoshop removes some of the distortion in the glass case, giving it a more rectangular shape.
  10. The layers can be seamlessly blended together using the Auto-Blend Layers command. This applies Layer Masks as needed to each layer to mask out exposure issues and create a seamless composite.
  11. Choose Edit > Auto-Blend Layers, specify the Panorama method, and click OK (be sure the Seamless Tones and Colors check box is also selected).
  12. Crop the image as needed, adjust Levels, and Flatten.