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Edit the Nadir, Part II

In Part I we saw how Hugin can be used to extract the nadir from a full spherical panorama for retouching. While there are a number of other methods (as kindly indicated by readers of this blog in the comments), this method has one strategic advantage: it can be used to extract a layered view. This is what we will do next.

Below is a nadir view of a full spherical panorama. It has already been aligned. It was shot with a Sigma 8mm fisheye lens, six shots around at 60° distance, so there are six images around the nadir.

All steps described in part I until just before clicking the Save project and stitch button have been performed. Before clicking that button, tick the Remapped Images box in the appropriate colum. Then Save the project and stitch. In this example, when prompted for a filename prefix we enter “nadir”.

layered nadir panorama preview

After the rendering, there are seven new tiff files: nadir.tif is the composite, and nadir0000.tif – nadir0005.tif are the individual layers.

Now, start a command line interface. A lot of photographers seems to have a phobia of the command line interface, but it really does not take more than basic typographic skills to use it. At the prompt, work yourself into the folder where the seven tiff files have been created with the cd command. Once there, enter the command

$ PTtiff2psd -o nadir.psd nadir.tif nadir0000.tif nadir0001.tif /
  nadir0002.tif nadir0003.tif nadir0004.tif nadir0005.tif

This will merge the tiff files into a single Photoshop file. At the time of writing, there is a bug in PTtiff2psd – it will fail if more than five tiff files are merged. You can also load all the tiff files into Photoshop and use a Photoshop action to import them into a single file.

nadir layer edit photoshop

Edit the nadir in Photoshop. Specifically, edit the masks to determine the seam placement between the individual images. When finished save it. Then flatten the layer and either use the Panotools Photoshop Plug-ins or the steps illustrated in part I after the edit to merge the nadir back into the equirectangular image.

I want my privacy back!

Thumbnail cache are a trade-off. On the upside, they speed up image browsing. On the downside, they use storage space and add clutter. By design, Windows Explorer caches them inside the same folder where the images are located, in a single system file, Thumbs.db. It also has a simple option to disable caching.

Today I found out that in Ubuntu there is a ~/.thumbnails folder in each user’s home folder. This is in my opinion a very bad design decision. Consider the following scenario:

I have some sensitive images on media. I am on the road and I use a guest account on a third party’s computer to access a file on that media. Thumbnails are generated and left behind on the third party computer to be harvested! I wonder how many users are aware of this potential security risk, and if there is a way to prevent it.

Image Browsing

Image browsing is the backbone of the photographic workflow. When I first inserted a compact flash into the card reader of my Ubuntu box, the system tried to detect what media it was. It was faster and better than the equivalent Windows function, so I decided to give it a try.

photo import

Unfortunately, from here on the experience is rather confusing. In Windows, the thumbnail view is part of Windows Explorer. I can drag and drop the images like any other file, and switch seamlessly from list to thumbnail view. It’s an extension of the file system. It does not seem to be so with gPhoto. Or am I doing something wrong? I see Nautilus has an option to  View as Icons, but the Icons are not exactly like the Thumbnails. Why two different, half-backed and overlapping tools, instead of a proper image browser integrated in the file browser?

I want my time stamps back!

I got this compact flash full of pictures taken over the last week. I want to move them to a permanent storage location on my file server. All I need is simple drag and drop. On the Windows side of the divide, with Windows Explorer:

  1. Enter the card.
  2. Drag the folders from the card to the server.
  3. Start sorting into folders.

Today I tried to do this in Ubuntu, with Nautilus:

  1. Enter the card.
  2. Drag the folders from the card to the server.
  3. Start sorting into folders.

It seemed to work. Until sorting started. My first criterion for sorting is time stamps, which for RAW files that should be read-only is the exact moment when the picture was taken. Since the shots for a panorama are clustered in time, it is easy to blindly sort them – with a script or manually. But my time stamps were gone! I immediately rebooted to Windows.

memory card after Nautilus screwed up my time stamps

Lucky me I had not yet deleted the card and could recover the original files with time stamps.

memory card before Nautilus screwed up my timestamps

I searched the web to see if there was an option to make Nautilus behave the way I want it. After all, this is what I believe most common users need and expect. I found that the issue has already been raised on the Ubuntu mailing list. But I did not find any viable solutions – only workarounds.

I already know a workaround. I can use cp -p or rsync -a – the command line gives me all the control I need. But the workaround for the average user will be: back to Windows!

If this happened to one of my neighbors, his reaction would have been something like:

For those not living in my neighborhood, a short cultural translation.