flickr cc image credit: Cats and Dogs, Living Together! by kmevans

In my photography I’ve had a slight passing interest this year in creating panorama images (flickr has evidence). Since discovering my little Canon SD800 has a panorama shooting mode – it presents a screen with overlap to help with aligning when taking a series of images intended for stitching– I have been doing a few here and there.

Until recently, I have been using a demo version of Autostitch software developed by Matthew Brown and David Lowe at the University of British Columbia.

Autostitchâ„¢ is the world’s first fully automatic 2D image stitcher. Capable of stitching full view panoramas without any user input whatsoever, Autostitch is a great new technology for panoramic photography, VR and visualisation applications. This is the first solution to stitch any panorama completely automatically, whether 1D (horizontal) or 2D (horizontal and vertical).

I usually say its about the only compelling reason for me to boot up Windows (XP) on my MacBookPro. It does a phenomenal job of stitching, way better than the crappy Canon software that came with the camera.

But in reading the web page for Autostich, I noticed its code had been incorporated into a few other apps, so I decided to give Calico a try on the Mac side. Its pretty easy- you load a series of images, click align (let it chug a bit), and then Make.

What I can do in Calico that I cannot do in Autostitch (which is from what I can see just a front end for a command line process in Windows) is I can crop the image from preview, but better- the final image I can generate as a layered PhotoShop file in case I want to tweak, add something, etc.

I have two versions of the same panorama from images I took in the Sydney Harbour; they have slightly different color tones maybe a JPEG artifact) , but I am pretty darned happy with the Calico approach.

Stitched with Calico
Sydney Panorama Created in Calico

Stitched with Autostitch
Sydney Panorama Created in Autostitch

Update: I was just reminded by Gerry Paille that PhotoShop CS3 has a stitching tool, Under File -> Automate -> AutoMerge. It works well, seems to do less spherical correction??

Stitched with PhotoShop
Sydney Panorama Created in PhotoShop CS3

And this is just one part of my fascination with Big Wide Images- a whole other post is reserved for my experiments ideas for the GigaPan — see my gpans at… and I plan to post quite a few more when I take the rig next month on my trip in Asia.

What ideas do you think are useful for using panorama images? Are they just a neat thing, or more?

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. One of the great things to do with panoramas is to make them into Quicktime VR objects. Then you can immerse yourself in Second Life

    You’ve probably come across it, but if not, have a look for Hugin ( It’s rather wonderful (if a little fiddly) and what I’ve found is that it will take the files that commercial demo software AutoPano Pro saves, and render them for free

  2. Gotta LOVE Calico. I’d purchased a license back in Sept, but the software wasn’t working quite as well as DoubleTake at the time. It looks like it’s been much improved – I just tested a rendering of the pano I shot in my office, and it was MUCH faster than Autostitch on Windows, and rendered a full resolution version as well (Autostitch and/or Windows ran out of memory when trying to do that…)

    Thanks for the reminder about Calico! I’ll be shooting more panos with it :-)

  3. Just realized – it looks like both Autostitch and Calico barfed on the bridge in your pano – did they choke on it, or did you not add those frames?

    I tried to do a pano of Hanauma Bay a couple of years ago, but Autostitch refused to handle the mouth of the bay and I wound up with two separate unconnected panos of each side…

  4. Calico basically is the same stitch engine as Autostitch. I have seen this happen a few times and my hunch is when there is enough difference in the overlap area (people/objects moving, I think a boat had moved in this one) that it cannot register the points sufficiently, so it just drops the images

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