AT2012 Panorama Photos

“I knew the wild riders and the vacant land were about to vanish forever… and the more I considered the subject, the bigger the forever loomed. Without knowing how to do it, I began to record some facts around me, and the more I looked the more the panorama unfolded.”
— Frederic Remington

On my recent long hike I took several overlapping photos of certain views to stitch together later into wide-angle pictures using software. Below you can view results of this experiment. In a few locations I was not consciously trying to make a panorama, but there was enough overlap between consecutive shots to stitch together a wider view anyway.

My camera was nothing great, just a low-end Android smart phone with 3.2 megapixel resolution. I first tried the software package Hugin, a free open-source package that runs on Windows or Mac. This video tutorial helped me quickly learn how to use the program effectively.

One problem I notice is that exposure can vary quite a bit depending on angle relative to the sun. My camera was set to automatic exposure, and standard advice for panorama shots is to disable all automatic features. Oops, too late to go back now and re-shoot. And anyway, it is far from obvious how to disable auto or lock current settings on an Android camera app.

Note the exposure transition on the left third of the image
Note the exposure transition on the left third of the image

Although Hugin has many manual settings that might overcome the exposure settings problem above, I did not find them easy to use. The free Image Composite Editor (link no longer works) from Microsoft seems to handle exposure correction rather well automatically.

Same view with Image Composite Editor
Same view with Image Composite Editor

Sometimes Image Composite Editor does not stitch the photo properly, and the program has no obvious provision for manual adjustment.

Notice the discontinuity on the power lines

Hugin, in automatic mode, also stitches these photos incorrectly, but you can go in manually and fix the stitch:

Less power line jaggies with Hugin, but could be improved
Less power line jaggies with Hugin, but could be improved

Images in this post might be clipped or compressed on the blog site. Right-click a picture and select “view image” to get full resolution.

Here the horizon and clouds curve as an artifact of the stitch view

I notice that Android 4.2 Jelly Bean includes a Photo Sphere camera mode to capture and share 360-degree images. This capability might be interesting to try on later hikes, especially Colorado on the CDT. If only my cell phone carrier and handset manufacturer would permit my phone to upgrade to 4.2 …

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Author: Jim, Sagebrush

Jim (trail-name Sagebrush) codes audio software for Windows, Linux, Android, and embedded systems. When not working at, he enjoys backpacking, which this blog is about.