Saturday, October 26, 2013

ICE, NO ! not that kind of ice but I.C.E.

No !  it's not that cold.  We don't have any ice here yet but I did download ICE:  Image Composite Editor 64 bit from a Microsoft division known as Microsoft Research   (info here)

I only just found out about it on a photography forum  (here2)

Most users have been very happy using it so I thought I would give it a try.   I do have sweep panorama on my camera but it never really starts and stops where you want it to and also the image is not very large.   In the past I had been using a very good FREE program called Autostitch  (here3)   Not that there was anything wrong with it but I am a hobbyist and I like to try new things

   Falling Leaves, Urban Vancouver, BC      October 26, 2013   Canon T2i, Sigma 18-250 super zoom
I left home late in the afternoon looking for a panoramic image when I came across this residential street.  The light from the sun was streaming through the leaves and I thought it looked very nice.  It actually looked nicer in person and what this image shows

I stopped and snapped 6 or 7 shots from this location and automatically stitched them together using Microsoft Research ICE.  The resultant file was over 51 megs but I downsized it to 12 megs when I exported it to .jpeg .     This would be a good way to make a huge enlargement from a lower megapixel camera so if you wanted to have a large 20" x 30" photo hanging on your wall then this is the program to use as the size of your image is cumulative.

I had to reduce it further for posting here but here is a nearly 170°  view from the same location

for a larger view   click here    remember that this is still a very reduced 2 meg file (orig was 51 megs)    You have to click a couple of times before you get to "original size"

This program is very easy to use and even a dummy can manage to produce a great panoramic image.  There is nothing to do except to drag your images over . . .  and the images can be in any order.   The built in editor even has options for cropping and scaling.   It even shows you how large the resultant file size will be before you export it to jpeg

If you have never done panoramas before it is important to keep your exposure the same for all images so an adjustable camera would be preferable.  I shot these images in manual mode and also manually focused.   Different exposures can cause colour shift from frame to frame.  Most P&S cameras usually lock the exposure on shot 1 so it may make a difference if you scan your arc clockwise or anti-clockwise depending whether it is darker or brighter on one end or the other.   I tried to use an average of the scene

    False Creek, Vancouver, BC     October 26, 2013     Canon T2i, Sigma 18-250 super zoom

I am a wide angle person and you will usually find me at the wide end of any lens but when you shoot images for a panorama you should not be at full wide angle as you will not get straight horizontal lines if you are aiming up or down your horizon will be either concave or convex and stitching will create distortion.  The sweet spot for panoramas is 44 mm (35mm perspective) and you should always keep horizontal elements, such as this gangway on an angle.

I stitched 8-9 images, this time with more overlap and the resultant file was over 80 megs, which I reduced to around 2.5 megs.  The original file is sharp and detailed, the smaller one not so much

I like to do everything hand held but as you notice, I didn't do a very good job, this time.  I could have cropped it but then I would have cut off those tall buildings.   I should have snapped two horizontal rows to make this pano higher.

for a larger view   click here   

DisclaimerI have nothing to do with Microsoft Research and they are not paying me to use their program, but so far it seems to work.   It's a free download so give it a try

It's getting colder by the water.  Soon I will have to wear a jacket instead of my fleece jacket.  I am sure it was cold for this windboard surfer too

I am not sure what to think about this surfer.  It looks like this person is wearing a suit and is wrapped up in white cloth bandages with holes for his eyes

There is not much boat traffic except for the fleet of Aquabus' going back and forth the inlet

Time to head home.  Right now I can't walk very far.  I've been hobbling around all week.  I have no idea why my right foot is swollen again.  Can't blame it on riding this time.   It's only been 2 weeks without sandals and see what happens.   Maybe it's all that rich food I had last weekend when David was here . . .


  1. I have gotten used to the pano shot function on my little Sony Cybershot. I didn't know it existed until last year or so, so before Roland had used the stitching software, and doctored the pictures with excellent results.

    1. Sonja:

      I have never been able to master where the pano starts nor ends. It is just luck or trial and error. Also if you check the file size, the result is only good for web posting. Not enough for an actual print. I still feel that manually stitching is much better.

  2. Replies
    1. Dom:

      Using I C E or Autostich are free stitching alternatives. Zoom your lens and try snapping a few. Two or Three images joined together is much better than a wide angle lens and your megapixels cummulate. Presume you have a 12 MP camera with 50% overlap for each subsequent image. 1 photo - 12 mp, 2 photos = 18 mp, add 6 mp for each photo and perhaps subtract 20% for cropping. You could also only overlap 30% but the more overlap you have, the easier for the stitching program to join up seamlessly

  3. Great pictures Bob.

    I have to admit when you said ICE I thought you meant "In Case of Emergency" as in the ICE contact in your phone. And if you don't have an ICE contact in your phone - you should.

    1. Trobairitz:

      OK, I finally did it. I put I.C.E. in my phone with several phone numbers. Now I hope I didn't jinx myself.

    2. You'll be fine Bob, but I will feel better knowing you have the ICE in your phone. :-)

    3. Trobairitz:

      Your words are so reassuring. I am feeling better now

  4. Good tip Bob, thanks.

    N from windy place

    1. Nikos:

      you're welcome. I only just found out about ICE so I had to try it out. Seems to work great, so far.

      No wind here but temps are starting to dip

  5. Again, thanks for the tip Bob. It's been awhile since I've attempted any panoramas but should give them another try.

    1. Coop:

      where you are I'm sure there are lots of places to shoot Panos and every camera is capable of doing this and costs you nothing to try as ICE is a free download

      If you are going to use AutoStitch you have to change some "options" to get a larger file. Try scaling around 20% to start, otherwise you will get humungously large file sizes, however there is NO crop option so you have to use another program to do it.

      ICE on the other hand builds the crop function into their program so it is much faster. Just change "scaling" for smaller files. It defaults to 100%

  6. I like the effect of the panoramas you took. It is more pleasing to the eye perhaps because it mimics our full range of vision. Could you buy a lens to get this same effect?

    I got a DSLR for my birthday and have been playing around with the settings. I am in no way as proficient as you but I feel taking engaging and clear photos is a good skill to develop.

    - Dave at Motorcycle Addiction

    1. Dave:

      If you look at the WORLD (ie straight ahead) we see everything, up, down, left and right. A photo is only a small rectangle of what we see. Stitching more rectangles together gives us a better view. Sometimes we wish to see more, sometimes less.

      If you wish to learn more about photography, there are excellent ESSAYS on Luminous Landscape

      also lots of tutorials

      Here is an article most people don't understand how to read the histogram

      the wrong exposure has a serious effect on the quality of your photos and this article explains why

      also read the companion article "Shoot to the right"

      you can thank me later. Set your camera so the histogram displays the preview

      I mostly shoot aperature priority so I have full control of my DOF: Depth of field
      I don't know everything but I experiment a lot so if you have any questions, send me an email

      I also used to develop my own film and do my own printing, and also frame my own photos. I have a Logan mat cutter

  7. Wow. Thanks for the extensive feedback. You are extremely kind to take the time. I will check out those essays for sure.

    - Dave at Motorcycle Addiction

    1. Dave:

      I am more of a FILM person than a digital person. I had been shooting black and white for a long time and did my own developing. Film has more lattitude (DR) than a digital sensor

      the best photographic form where you can ask questions and get detailed answers is: it is frequented mostly by professional and advanced amateur photographers so you will get very good answers to questions. You have to register using your REAL Name.

      I like the NO WORDS forum. This is where you don't type any text, but rather you post up a photo, and then you get photo replies.

      enjoy . . .

  8. I also use the pano on my little sony camera but now that I broke the screen I will have to buy a new one. I think I will stick to a camera that does this inside the camera.
    Microsoft has been doing research for quite a while with ICE.