Friday, December 30, 2011

Creating beautiful memories with dual monitors

  • A lot of us have dual monitors for our computers
  • Windows does not have a very good built-in multiple monitor management tool
  • When we travel, we take lots of snapshots with our digital cameras but these don't do justice to some of the majestic sights
  • Panoramic shots would be great but we don't all have appropriate lenses
  • Mobile phones have built-in apps to help take panoramic shots but they cannot match a good camera for results on individual photos
So....
How can we take great high resolution panoramic snapshots and then make them a desktop image spanning 2 monitors?

Step 1.
Take panoramic shots with your camera overlapping successive frames while keeping the camera level and without changing the settings as you swivel left to right to capture the vista.  A suggestion I have is to try and set up the camera to enable the tallest structure in the panorama to be captured.  You don't want to change the field of view in the middle of the panorama.  In addition, wait till there are no moving people in the field of view.  Otherwise you will capture the same person in two or more frames if s/he moved while you were taking the shots or get "chopped off" as in the photo below.
Another panorama
At Chichen Itza
at chichen itza
Cropped image
You will also need to do some centering, straightening and cropping of the stitched image. With some efforts you can convert the above image to look like this:


Step 2.
Download the pics to your computer and use Hugin [http://hugin.sourceforge.net/] to stitch these together.  I posted about this earlier.  Lifehacker has a great post on this. Hugin is a free utility with great features.  It has a bit of a learning curve but well worth the efforts.

Step 3.
Use Display Fusion [http://www.displayfusion.com/] to load the panorama you created in step 2 and span it across 2 monitors. Display Fusion is a free download (though there is a premium version with more features).  (Macs apparently have this functionality built-in and don't need this tool).

So there you go, 2 free apps to make your vacation memories stay alive on your dual monitors.  All you have to do is remember to take overlapping photos with your camera while keeping the camera settings constant.  The rest you can do when you get home!

Here are some other panoramic shots:
Backyard Panorama Fall Foliage
Backyard

HawkenSoccerFields
Soccer fields