Props for Auto-Align/Blend in CS3

Panorama photographer Hans Nyberg has posted an overview comparing the new Photoshop Auto-Align Layers/Auto-Blend Layers functionality to other tools. "This is a real ‘Christmas Gift’ to us panorama photographers," he writes.  "Incredibly fast and with very intelligent blending which outperforms all the blenders we have used until now."

Regarding the Load Files Into Stack script I posted earlier this week, I forgot to point out that choosing File->Automate-> Photomerge does the same process in one shot.  Engineer John Peterson writes,

Now, if you want to click ‘n drag ‘n re-arrange, the bottom left side of the Photomerge file section dialog has an "interactive" option for the familiar Photomerge interactive dialog. But really, the new alignment algorithm is generally good enough that you’ll rarely need it.

And about the "Advanced Blending" checkbox? If it’s on (the default) you’ll get the seamless blending and exposure matching Edit > Auto-blend does. If it’s off, you’ll get simple rectangular blend masks (that you can easily modify or remove) and pixels left as-is, ready to re-touch by hand if you so choose.

Also, engineer Jeff Chien would like to point out that after running Auto-Blend Layers you may observe some visible seams when zoomed way out, but that these are just a redraw artifact; i.e. at 100% magnification they disappear.

On related notes:

  • LiveScience reports that Australian scientist Piers Barnes has calculated the number of photos that need to be taken to ensure at least one blink-free photo: "For groups of less than 20 people, divide the number of people in the group by 3 if the light is good or by 2 if the light is bad.  Take that number of shots and you will have a better than 95 percent chance of getting at least one good one."  Hmm–sounds like the new tools could help here. [Via]
  • John P. points out the interesting photo project "Lignières: Then and Now,"
    an effort to overlay current images of a small Swiss village with those from the 19th century. The current process is painstaking and manual, and it would be fun to see how Auto-Align might be able to help arrange & transform images to fit.

0 thoughts on “Props for Auto-Align/Blend in CS3

  1. Hello, the new image stacking/alignment tools in PS CS3 look like just the thing I am looking for – if I can get them to work. I assemble hi-res aerial images that have a fixed overlap of 60% in one direction. Many times I need to show how these images would look if spread out like a deck of cards, you know, overlapping with 2-Ace all in order. The old CS2 Photomerge won’t load the images in order (even with alpha #files) so the “stacking” order is wrong and I don’t want any blending at all.
    With the CS3 script from John Nack loaded in CS3, the images still won’t load in order (but they align beautifully!) but sadly, I can get only three down-sampled (23MB ea) images to auto-align properly. Even using the other ‘edit, auto align’ options in various combinations, if I add any more images the whole thing goes bad with weird scaling and perspective errors. A successful end product like this could involve hundreds of images.
    As a work-a-round, I attempted to save off a 3-image PSD and then include that as a 4th image in a new stack – that worked only once, after which the next 3 image composite would load as a very reduced size image.
    I can try to post some of this as screen grabs if anyone is interested. I want to be successful with this and I believe that the new Photoshop is up to the task – I’m just stuck here and don’t know what to do next…
    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
    [Hmm, interesting; let me run this by the team and see what they say. –J.]

  2. Many thanks to Jeff Chien and company for working with me on this. I’ve discovered that the auto-align and auto blend features do in fact work wonderfully – except when you introduce something like typography into an image.
    What I did was use an ‘add file name’ script to place a line of text along the top of every image to be auto-aligned. This is so a client can identify which image contains areas of interest. Attempts were made using labeled, flattened tif and jpg images to no avail. When the type was removed, the images assembled just fine. So, I tried it with layered psd files, with no luck, as it seems the alignment process merges the layers or whatever.
    Anyway here I sit, with the potential to automate the workflow of a highly valuable product offering, just ever so close to actually doing it and now I’m stuck.
    Problem solving is in the blood of old photographers like me just like hypo (anyone here remember mixing that stuff up?), so I’m open to any suggestions. And I’ll be happy to share any solutions to my challenge…
    Happy New Year!

  3. Did you try small text size? or low contrast text? My guess is auto align will still work if the type is small enough. If you go down to very small type (e.g. 8 pixels height) it may work fine because auto align first looks for similarities in bigger features. Very small type is not exactly user friendly but you may find a type size acceptable for your project

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