Adjusting Your Photos

Once your photos appear in the Photomerge window, you see Elements' best-guess effort at combining them. Elements' first pass isn't always perfect. Now your part of the work begins, since you usually need to do a fair bit of tweaking here to get the best results.

Figure 13-16. The Elements Photomerge window is your workshop for joining two or more photos into a panorama. Although Elements does a lot of the work automatically, you'll get better results if you tweak things, using the settings on the right side of the window, once Elements has created the basic merge for you.

Sometimes, for example, as shown at top in Figure 13-17 , Elements just gets confused and combines your photos randomly. In other cases, it just can't figure out where to put a photo at all. When that happens, Elements leaves the photos it can't place up at the top of the window, in the area called the lightbox .

Figure 13-17. Elements valiantly tries to combine your photos, but sometimes it has trouble lining up images exactly or figuring out how to fit a particular photo into the merge. Top: Here, Elements guesses more wildly than a 10th-grader on a pop quiz.

Bottom: Here's the final result, showing the end product of a five-photo merge. As you can see, with a little help, Elements can usually do a fine job of combining imageseven when it doesn't know where to start.

You can manually drag files into the merge and also reposition photos already in your panorama. Just grab them with the Select Image tool (explained in the following list) and drag them to the correct location in the merge.

If you try to nudge the position of a photo and it keeps jumping away from where you've placed it, turn off "Snap to Image" on the right side of the Photomerge window. Then you should be able to put your photo exactly where you want it. However, Elements isn't doing the figuring for you anymore, so use the Zoom tool to get a good look at the alignment afterwards. You may need to micro-adjust the photo's exact position.

At the top left of the Photomerge window is a little toolbox. Some tools are familiar; others are special tools just for panoramas.

• Select Image . Use this tool to move individual photos into or out of your merge or to reposition them within it. Press the A key, or click the tool, to activate it.

• Rotate Image . Elements usually rotates images automatically when merging them, but if it doesn't, or guesses wrong, press R to activate this tool and then click the photo you want to rotate. You see handles on the image, just the way you would with the regular Rotate commands (Section 10.2 ). Then just grab a corner and turn the photo until it fits in properly. Usually, you won't need to drastically change a photo's orientation, but this tool helps make the small changes often needed to line things up better.

• Vanishing Point . To understand what this tool does, think of standing on a long, straight, country road and looking off into the distance. The point at which the two parallel lines of the road seem to converge and meet the horizon is called the vanishing point .

The Vanishing Point tool in Elements just tells Photomerge where you want that point to be in your finished panorama. Knowing the vanishing point helps Elements figure out the correct perspective. Press V to activate the Vanishing Point tool. Figure 13-18 shows an example of how it can change your results.

• Zoom tool . This is the same Zoom tool you meet everywhere else in Elements. Click the magnifying glass in the toolbox or press Z to activate it.

• Hand tool . Use the Hand tool here when you need to scoot your entire merged image around to see a different part of it. Click the Hand icon in the toolbox or press H to activate it. When moving an individual photo within your panorama, use the Select Image tool.

You have a few other aids on the right side of the window. Some, like Advanced Blending, adjust the way your photos blend together. Others, like Cylindrical Mapping, adjust the camera's-eye view angle.

To control your onscreen view of your panorama, Elements gives you the Navigator on the right side of the Photomerge window. Move the slider to resize the view of your panorama. Drag to the right to zoom in on one area or to the left to shrink the view so that you can see the whole thing at once. When you want to target a particular spot in your merge, drag the red rectangle to control the area that's onscreen.

Figure 13-18. You can radically alter the perspective of your panorama by selecting a vanishing point. Top: Here you see the result of clicking in the center.

Bottom: Here you see the result of clicking on the right-hand image. Note that the tool selects only the image, not the actual pointyou can click any photo to put your vanishing point there, but if you subsequently try to tweak it by clicking at a higher or lower point within the same photo, nothing happens.

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