Sunday, October 09, 2005

Phoenix Sunrise 9 October 2005

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UPDATE 200510090051Z: For some reason the second and last pictures don't download properly. Maybe it's lag at Blogger. I'll see if I can figure out what's wrong. I was afraid that they'd be full-sized downloads,which would have been a couple three meg or more, but Blogger has nicely sized them for display on the screen. They're on the order of 40k each.
UPDATE 200510102307Z: Still don't know what the problem is/was with downloading the images by clicking on them. Last night I noticed that they downloaded fine in Internet Explorer, thought the continued to have problems in Firefox. This morning I tried with Konqueror and Mozilla 1.7, and both browsers had trouble. Konqueror kept throwing up a dialog asking if I wanted to open this text file and which text application to use.

So later on I downloaded and saved the images to my desktop using Internet Explorer in order to see if Firefox would open the files, which it did. Even later on I went back to this post with Firefox, and this time it downloaded the images no problem. So I don't know what the problem was/is, except that now everything seems to be OK. Maybe I'll do an experiment later on to try to pin it down.

I forgot to crop the pictures, but this way you can see how many images I stitched together with AutoStitch to create the panoramas. Practice makes perfect, they say. Next time.

These panoramas were taken of the Phoenix sunrise on 9 October 2005, using an Olympus Stylus 300 digital camera.

This camera comes with software, Camedia Master, that will make panoramas from appropriately spaced shots if you put the camera in panorama mode and if (and only if) you have the Olympus brand SD card. Strangely, you can use another SD card that claims compatibility with the camera, but there's something about the Olympus brand SD card that enables the automatic panorama function of the software.

You can also upgrade the Olympus Camedia software for twenty bucks and get a "free stitch" function that works adequately, but does not allow you to retain full resolution.

This is not what I used to assemble these panoramas, though. Since I got the camera and software I found a program (hat tip Wikipedia) called AutoStitch which is a so-far free offering from Mathew Brown at UBC, where it is part of his Doctoral work and a prospective commercial venture. All I can say to Mr. Brown is, "More power to you, Sir." His panorama software works wonderfully for what I have tried.

Brown's AutoStitch has some settings I don't quite understand, and it doesn't do cylindrical or planar projections (only 1-D), but I guess I have not tried anything where these were required.

If you look at Brown's web site you'll see a graphical description of what his software does, but you don't see the graphical stuff when you use the software. The first time I used AutoStitch I thought my computer had frozen when in reality it was just working really hard. This is apparently very processor intensive stuff, especially the way I've been doing it (full size, 100 percent JPEG fidelity).

AutoStitch only takes JPEGs as input but that has not been a hindrance to me. I've either converted what I've wanted to stitch into JPEG or used JPEG to start with. Actually, the Olympus Stylus 300 I'm using only does JPEG anyway.

I've posted a picture or two in my blog before, but never several in one post. It has not been as straightforward as I'd have thought. For instance, the first time I uploaded the pictures, I uploaded all four at once. I was then unable to place text as usual, and the pictures flowed themselves into the text of the following post on a different topic, forcing that text off to the side of the pictures.

So I deleted that post and tried again, this time uploading the pictures individually rather than as a group. Again the formatting was off. I'd been composing the post using, naturally enough, the "Compose" tab of the Blogger user interface. Finally I took the hint presented in the "Edit Html" tab right beside the "Compose" tab, and here I am editing the HTML.

I'm not really editing the HTML so much as moving stuff around, checking the preview to see what happened, then moving stuff around some more, etc. Slowly the post has taken the shape in which I (and I hope you) see it. Along the way, as I mentioned before in a probably-now-deleted comment, the pictures appeared in reverse order from what I expected, i.e.: the last one uploaded appeared at the top of the post, the second-to-last picture uploaded appeared next, and the last picture I uploaded appeared at the top of the post.

I don't know why things worked that way, but using the "Edit Html" tab I was able to move the HTML code blocks around so that they appeared correctly, so that the earlier picures appear above the later ones.

So, Mr. Mathew Brown, congratulations on some fine software, and thanks for letting me use it. I hope you are able to get it adopted into a Google Picasa or something commercial like that and make some bucks from your good work.

Google, thanks to you, too. Picasa is great, Blogger is great, and GMail is great. More power to Google!

Olympus, I like your little Stylus 300 snapshot digital camera, too.

HEY! It looks like we're about to get another great sunSET here in Phoenix. It it's spectacular I'll try to get some shots of it.


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