Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Panorama Stitching

Stitching is the term that is used for taking 2 or more images of a scene that is too large for one frame, then assembling them into one larger image. There is a lot of math involved in smoothing out once straight lines, and combining them into the natural curves found in natural viewing.

Panorama stitching programs can cost a lot of money, but HP offers Panorama Stitching as one of the tools in a free Photo Suite.

Above is the view from my south-facing balcony. It was stitched from 14 stills. Each still was 1920 x 1080 (pixels) (the same as one frame of High-Definition video).

According to Photoshop's Image Size, which I used to size his DOWN to 1800px wide for posting (click the image above to see a larger view), the re-sized photo is 25" wide at 72dpi -- but the full-sized Panorama photo was 110" wide (!)

This view is from my south-facing balcony, overlooking the 78 freeway that divides Carlsbad from Oceanside. Just to give you an idea of how to mentally straighten this out, the olive-green "railing" on the balcony that comes at the viewer at the left of the photo is the same 15' board (straight) as the one at the right end. This is almost a 180-degree view from east to went (l to r). Across the freeway on the right is a driving range where golfers hit their golf balls across a long, flat green onto a hill with targets marking how far their shot would calculate to if the hill did not stop the trajectory.
Tips for shooting stills for panoramas:
1. Lock the exposure, so that each shot will match the others. Auto exposure will adjust each differently. I made an exposure measurement in the middle section, then locked it and shot them all in sequence, left to right
2. After you shoot each shot, as you re-frame, make sure there is 1/3 -1/2 of the next frame filled with that portion of the scene you just shot. (1/2 is better) The more redundancy of information from shot to shot the better.

Load them into the HP Panorama Stitcher in order (it also allows you to re-order them, if you goof up) and click OKAY, and in a matter of seconds, it does the matching and the math and finishes off a large panorama.

Panorama software is built into a free set of tools made by HP
Mac versions (Photosmart Studio)
PC (look here)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Improving Your eBay Listing Titles

A lot of eBay users, when executing a search, do not search using anything except the basic search. I don't actually know this to be a fact, but at age 50, knowing people as I think I do (yeah, so I work alone in a studio all day, what about it?) and watching the number of people who say "yeah, but I can't remember that" when I tell them control-c and control-v are a quicker way to copy and paste, I feel reasonably certain that my doubts about the common eBay user using the advanced tools are somewhat well-founded, if not factually accurate.

If you go to the eBay home page -- and there are a number of people who get there by typing www.ebay.com in their browser's Address field -- you will get a simple search box. I would imagine many people start there, and may even return there to do their searches. We are, after all, creatures of habit.

That search box looks like this:

So, you enter the word "painting" and click "enter" and you get a new page that, as of today lists 35,083 "Best matches" (that's encouraging...I hope someone finds my needle in the haystack). 6215 of them are listed by self-representing artists, 24,775 are listed in the Paintings category.
There are 86,400 seconds in a day, which means that a new painting is listed, on average, every 3 - 3.5 seconds or so... And that's 24/7/365. Even while you sleep.

Helping people narrow down what they are searching for is a really good idea. If your last name (or first) is Rembrandt, you may not need to do many modifications to your current listings, but I know I am not that famous. It's naive to think people will search eBay for my last name.

There is a tool eBay supplies
A simple check box. IF (and I stress IF) someone is brave enough to click the BUY button at the top of the screen (and I am sure there are a number of people who will not because they are afraid it will immediately deduct money from their bank account), they will be taken to a different kind of search window:

There, one can type in a search string (string = series of letters and/or words) which will ONLY display results that have a match for those words IN THE TITLE of the listing. It will NOT return results for ANY of the words in your description.

So if you have an incredible painting of the SS Betty Anne and someone is looking for a schooner painting, they will never find your painting without the word "schooner" in your TITLE...

...UNLESS they check the little box, which is by default unchecked, next to the words "Search Title and Description"

See again the image, above.

So you can blather on all day in your description about how "this schooner painting is regarded by schooner enthusiasts and schooner geniuses, as one of the finest schooner works of art -- an original oil painting by John Q Famous -- and should be in the home of any schooner-loving schooner enthusiast or art collector" and your listing will be completely ignored if the title of your listing is "Original Oil Painting by John Q Famous - The SS Betty Anne L@@K!" because it doesn't say "schooner" in the title -- even though you LOADED it with "schooner" in the description.

You will get more hits from searches with the title Schooner Ship Boat Nautical Oil Painting Original