Join Date: Nov 2007
Re: Tips on printing large
Ok, these are my thoughts.
With careful postprocessing and sharpening, you may be able to get a 4 shot horizontal pano made with the E-5 to print acceptably well at an uprezzed 24 X 60. Maybe.
One of the first issues is to get used to shooting big panos in vertical/portrait mode. You have unlimited left to right capability, so why not use the 1/3 or so extra pixels in the dimension that you can't multiply?
Rule 1: If you are going to print big, shoot in portrait mode on the sweep.
Rule 2: Try to keep the camera really level so that you don't have to stretch and crop more than necessary. That doesn't mean a tripod and monkeying around with a level, but it does mean "pay attention to the horizon".
I just created two panos tonight with today's E-3 shots. I was down in the Niagara Glen gorge shooting the rapids. I shot a 7 shot handheld pano and a 5 shot handheld pano, both with the 35-100mm in portrait mode. I stitched them in CS3 tonight, and the native size at 300ppi was 'roughly' around 12 x 48 for the seven shot pano, and 12 x 36 for the 5 shot pano. I use lots of overlap. Your E-5 should have a native size about 20% larger. Even so, if you've shot it in landscape mode, you are back down to below 12 inches on the native vertical dimension. That's a lot of uprezzing.
Rule 3: I had pretty good lighting today. I was able to stitch directly in RAW in CS3 photomerge and it blended the exposures flawlessly. That's not always the case. Sometimes I will have to convert the RAWs into jpegs first if I have a stubborn exposure blending issue. I use Viewer2, but Lightroom will work as well. I hate doing the jpeg conversion thing because CS3's photomerge blending program can't seem to blend Oly jpeg's as well as it can blend Oly RAWs. I suspect CS4 may be a bit better.
Rule 4: Let PS do it's photomerge thing at the closest stage to your RAWs as possible
Rule 5: Stay in Photoshop. Every time you import/export/reopen/save, you are losing jpeg quality. Why do it if if you don't have to, especially because we are going to have to uprez, A LOT? Anything you can do in Lightroom, you can do in Photoshop.
Rule 6: After you have flattened the image in PS after running photomerge, now you have to get a bit creative to get your pano to print well at 24 X 60. That's big. The first thing I do is to save the image as "panorama1.jpg", or something similar. Nothing is more frustrating than working for an hour on a huge pano, and then having PS lock up with nothing saved. This will be your only save in the editing process until the end. Notice I have not yet asked you to clean up your jagged edges in the pano. Hit select>all, and, then edit>transform>warp. You will see the 8-box grid come up. Carefully stretch the image where required to fill or partially fill the worst of missing areas. If you are lucky and have CS5, you can/should use content aware fill to do this. Remember, you are uprezzing big time, so you want to crop as little as possible, so you image needs to be fine tuned a bit here. Now, crop the image to the largest size possible with the crop tool.
Rule 7: Time to post-process ... while the image is still at its native size. Saturation, shadow/highlight, levels, curves etc. should be done now. Remember, noise reduction first (before uprezzing, or you will uprez the noise as well), sharpening last. In fact, that leads to the next rule:
Rule 8: Uprez before you sharpen! First, go to the image>image size dialogue command and uncheck 'constrain proportions', check "resample image" and leave the resolution at 300ppi. If you are uprezzing, use "bicubic smoother" (assuming you are not using Qimage etc) Your native horizontal dimension should be about 10 inches or so (or 14 or so inches in vertical mode). Make a mental note of the native ratio of vertical to horizontal dimensions. Purists may shudder in horror, but I uprez in one step unless I am going more than three times the native size. I cannot notice any quality difference. Type in your 24 inch vertical dimension. You will notice that the horizontal dimension doesn't change. Now comes the hard part: deciding how long you want to make your pano. If I am shooting ski mountains, I want to err on making the horizontal dimesion slightly shorter tha the original ratio, to make the mountains appear slightly taller. If I want to emphasize the broad expanse of something, I stretch it a bit horizontally. The key thing here is to try to make the new size of your photo a fairly standard dimension, like 24x60, 24x42, 24x48, 24x72 etc. Our eyes are used to seeing things framed and built in these common dimensions. Framing is way cheaper as well. Remember, it's art. Go for whatever looks best. Now, uprez and hit "fit on screen".
Rule 9: I am now going to sharpen using the non-destructive "High Pass" sharpening filter. Hit Layer>duplicate layer. Now go to filter>other>high pass. Your pano will turn a blank grey, with a little box that only shows edges. The small dialogue box that pops up will have a radius slider. The E-5 should require something between 1-3 pixels, but every photo is unique. Slide it over until you just see the edges. Now, move over to the layer box on the right side of the screen, and set the blending mode, initially, to "'overlay". Bang, the image pops back on the screen, sharpened. It may be too sharpened, but if it is, just reduce the opacity slider. You can toggle the little eye icon there off and on to check. Also, try other modes like "soft light" or "vivid light" High Pass sharpening is the single most critical step to getting good print results with heavily uprezzed images. To print well, they should look just a tad oversharpened on the screen.
Rule 10; Ok, you are done. Save it between quality 10-12 on CS4 save dialogue. You will have perfectly usable photograph that will now print big and look great at it's native size. Just make sure you go to a good lab that will print the correct colour profile and not try to autocorrect it in-house, if you are not printing at home.