Creating Panoramic Photos with the GIMP

Caoimhe asked me to elaborate on how I created the panoramic photo that currently appears at the top of this page. Here’s how. You can download all the images I used (although they’re much smaller than the originals!) but the techniques described will be useful for other photos too.

  • Load dsc06627.jpg, dsc06628.jpg and dsc06629.jpg into the GIMP.
  • Create a new 1920×640 RGB image.
  • Copy/paste dsc06629.jpg into the new image and move it to the left of the frame.
  • Look at the layers dialog and right click on “Pasted Layer” and select “New layer”.
  • Do the same for dsc06628.jpg and dsc06627.jpg moving them over to the right before making them into new layers. No need to line them up right away.
  • Now line up “Pasted Layer#1” with “Pasted Layer” as best you can. It helps if you select “Pasted Layer#1” and move the Opacity slider to about 50%. Concentrate on getting the right side of the layer lined up with the bottom layer. The left side is always overlapped by the layer above.
  • Now set the opacity to 100% again! You’ll hopefully see the mountains in the background join up nicely!
  • You’ll have to adjust the colour of “Pasted Layer#1” – Use Layers->Colours->Colour Balance, and Hue-Saturation. Don’t worry if the colours don’t match exactly.
  • Do the same with “Pasted Layer#2”. Getting the trees lined up is a bit of a pain because of the branches, but if you clone out the branch tops after aligning it helps.
  • When that’s done, you need to match up the layers using a layer mask and a gradient: select “Pasted Layer#1”, right click, and click “Add Layer Mask”, and click “OK”. Select the gradient tool (press “L” if you can’t find it) and draw a gradient from the top-left corner to the center of the layer. Click on the layers dialog again and “Apply Layer Mask” and then use another gradient on “Pasted Layer#1” to match up the right of that layer with “Pasted Layer#2”.
  • Crop the image, remove the white background and get rid of the rough edges!

You can look at sneem-panorama.xcf to see the layers and effects I used.
As part of your digital workflow you should also use the Layers->Colours->Curves, Hue-Saturation and Levels tools, and Filters->Enhance->Unsharp Mask plugin to improve the final image.

By Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Twitter.

5 replies on “Creating Panoramic Photos with the GIMP”

The Pandora GIMP plugin makes this process nearly painless … all I usually need to do is line up the photos properly, and I’m good to go.

Hmmm … what type of Layer Mask do you add – White, Black, Layer’s Alpha, Transfer Layer’s Alpha, Selection, or Grayscale copy of layer? And so far the Pandora GIMP plugin doesn’t seem to like Gimp 2.x …

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