This weeks photo is of the Quiraing on Skye. Some of you will undoubtedly remember that I've blogged about this photo before, but as with previous posts on this blog I've spent quite some time this week working on the photo and so have a story to tell.
Bagpipes are a Scottish institution. I don't think anyone would argue with that. So if you had a business selling bagpipes or accessories than it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that your website would include some photos of Scotland. Earlier this week I was approached by just such a company regarding the photo of the Quiraing you see above. Mark Wygent makes and sells bagpipe reeds through his company Wygent Reeds. In the process of updating his website he came across my panorama from the car park people use to walk the Quiraing which I posted on Tales From An English Coffee Drinker and wanted to use it as the masthead image. I was more than happy for him to use the photo on his website but decided that I should put some time into improving it first.
The photo above is the panorama I originally blogged. It is okay but it suffers from a number of problems which I should have anticipated at the time I took the photos. You may have noticed that this post doesn't include the usual table showing the camera settings I used. This is because they varied widely between the 14 photos comprising the panorama. Usually the light across the panoramas I take doesn't vary enough to be a problem but in this case I was shooting into the sun and so the exposure levels and white balance are different on each photo. This means that each of the photos is relatively well exposed (the auto settings on the camera did a reasonable job) but that the photos don't overlap very well and hence the colours in the panorama, especially the sky, look quite odd. You can see the problem even more clearly if you look at two consecutive images before they are combined.
It became clear at this point that I had quite a lot of work to do if I was going to fix the photos to generate a better panorama. The first thing I noticed was that because of the overlap between photos I didn't actually need all 14 photos to make the panorama, just eight of the photos were needed. This allowed me to choose the better lit photos and discard some of the really badly coloured images. I then started with the left most image and compared pairs of overlapping photos to see if they needed adjusting. When the colours didn't match I used the colour balance tool in Paint Shop Pro; I used the automatic white balance setting and then increased the colour temperature to remove the blue hue. You can see how this helps by looking at the same two adjacent photos as before.
I think you'll agree that the colour match is now much better which will result in a much improved panorama. I used these adjusted photos to generate the new panorama and then the final step was small adjustments to the brightness, contrast and saturation. I'm fairly happy with the final result although it would have been so much easier just to have remembered to at least lock the white balance between photos at the time I took them -- another lesson learned!