Affinity Photo Panorama Stitching
In this tutorial we explore Affinity Photo Panorama Stitching. The Panorama tools in Affinity Photo produce excellent results but there are a few tips and tricks you can use to help.
Let’s start with the three-stage process of creating a panorama:
- Shoot the individual frames of the panorama.
- Process the frames to prepare them for stitching.
- Stitch the frames into a finished panorama.
Each stage has some key point to understand or do. In this tutorial we’re focussing on stages 2 and 3. There will be a separate tutorial covering how to shoot panoramas because there’s a lot to share in that stage.
Affinity Photo Panorama Stitching Video
I’m going to start the tutorial by asking you to watch the following video. In this video I demonstrate stages 2 and 3 of creating the panorama. First, I prepare the RAW files using Capture One. Following this, I stitch the images in Affinity Photo to create the new Panorama. Once you’ve watched the video, I’d suggest reading the rest of the tutorial to be sure you’ve picked up all the important points.
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Process the Image Frames before Stitching
When processing the RAW files, it’s important to start with a key frame which you think is the most important to correct. In this example I’ll make the key frame the one containing the starburst sun. I’ll then concentrate on applying the adjustments needed to make that frame look right in the finished image.
Adjust the Key RAW File First
Although Affinity Photo contains an excellent RAW converter, I’ve chosen to develop this image using Capture One. I switched to Capture One as my RAW developer of choice for Fuji RAW files around 6 months ago and I’m very impressed by the results.
In this example I started by removing the lens distortion correction. I shot the image using a Fuji 16-80 lens which has quite a lot of distortion. The stitching process in Affinity Photo appears to handle the image better without the distortion correction. You might not find this for the images you’re stitching but it’s worth testing which gives the best results.
I’m also applying a new film curve (this is like a camera profile in Lightroom) before adjusting the colour temperature of the image. After this I refine the exposure for the image by opening the shadows and reducing the highlights.
Copy the Adjustments to the Other Images
Once you have your key frame looking good it’s a matter of applying the same adjustments to the other frames in your panorama. In Capture One you can do this by copying the adjustments to the Adjustment Clipboard, selecting the other image(s) and then pasting them. Other RAW converters like Lightroom may have a feature to synchronise the adjustments across all selected images.
The two images now look similar in terms of colour and exposure. Check this by displaying the two images side by side on the screen. If you notice obvious differences you should adjust the colours and/or exposure to bring them into line. In this example the key image frame is obviously darker than the other. I can reduce the exposure for the other frame to bring it into line.
When you make the frames look the same, you help the panorama stitching software to blend them. By improving the blending between the frames, the stitched panorama will appear more natural, resulting in a higher quality image.
Export Your Files for Panorama Stitching
Now you have the frames for stitching matching each other closely, you can export them to image files. The best approach and file format will depend on your choice of RAW editor. In this example I chose to export the image files from Capture One as TIFF files. I selected the 16-bit TIFF format as this can withstand editing in Affinity Photo better than the 8-bit option. I also selected a wide colour space (Adobe RGB) as this can handle a wider range of colours when editing.
Stitch the Panorama in Affinity Photo
With the frames for stitching edited, it’s time to fire up Affinity Photo.
Create a New Panorama
Once inside Affinity Photo, select the option in the File menu to create a “New Panorama”. This opens the “New Panorama” dialog.
Load and Stitch the Frames
When the New Panorama dialog opens, click the Add button (number 1). Here you can select one or more images for stitching. When you select and add an image it appears in the list on the left of the New Panorama dialog.
To create an initial thumbnail of the Panorama, click the “Stitch Panorama” button (number 2). The thumbnail then appears on the right of the dialog.
You should also notice each image you selected for stitching has a checkbox to the right of it. You can use this to temporarily deselect it from the panorama stitching. This is useful if you find the stitching isn’t working properly because you think there may be too much overlap between images. By unchecking an image, you can test the result. If you find one of the images is a problem, you can click the “Remove” button to discard it.
Render the Panorama
When you’re happy with the initial stitching, click the OK button to render the panorama. Affinity Photo then makes initial stitch of the panorama and opens the panorama interface.
Here you have access to additional Affinity Photo tools that can improve the stitched panorama. You will find these on the left of the interface (number 1).
If you look at the image preview, you will see a white hashed area around the edge (number 3). This is empty space, left when Affinity has distorted the two frames in order to stitch them together. To remove this, you have two choices:
- Crop the image to remove the white space. You can do this using the crop tool found in the tools palette (number 1). This is effective but you end up wasting a large portion of the image. It can also damage the composition.
- Select the Inpainting option (number 2) at the centre top of the interface. When this option is on and the panorama renders, Affinity Photo repairs the missing areas. The results from this can be quite brilliants.
Repair Missing Areas
Although the results of the Inpainting option for panorama stitching are generally excellent, some areas may pose a problem. In the example above, if you look to the left and right edges of the frame you will notice the missing areas are long and thin. Sometimes the Inpainting option can handle these but at other times it doesn’t do such a good job when you check closely.
If you find this problem, it’s best to crop these areas out before stitching the panorama. You can see an example in the following screenshot.
Here I’ve selected the crop tool from the tools palette on the left; it’s the bottom icon.
After this I applied a crop to remove the right and left edges of the images as they are too narrow to repair well. I also removed a small area from the top and bottom of the frame for similar reasons.
With the Affinity Photo Inpainting option enabled and the crop in place, click the “Apply” button in the top left of the interface. Affinity Photo will then stitch the two images to a panorama, crop the results and then fill in the missing areas to create a natural looking repair.
If you look back to the start of this tutorial, you’ll see the finished stitch panorama created using Affinity Photo.
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