The making of the Montana Motorcycle Trip

Here's what I'm using:
  • Kodak DC-50 Digital Camera
  • 40 Meg flash card for camera(PCMCIA compatible)
  • Kodak Photo Enhancer
  • Paint Shop Pro 4.0
  • VI (my HTML editor :-)

    At its highest quality the DC50 takes pictures at a resolution of 756x504 and those are stored in Kodak's own .KDC image format at about 60-100K per image. 250+ images can be stored on the 40M flashcard at that resolution.

    From here I can pull the images directly from the camera using a serial cable, which is very slow, or simply plug the flash card into a PCMCIA type II slot on any laptop, and it'll treat the card just like another harddrive. I then use the Photo Enhancer software to retrieve the images. Photo Enhancer does some stuff like "Sharpen", "Intensify", "Lighten Shadows" and so on. Some images I modify here, some I don't. I then copy the image to memory and drop it into Paint Shop Pro 4.0.

    PSP4 Does most of the stuff that Photo Enhancer does but with more control, plus here I can "Re-sample" the image to reduce its size. "Re-sample seems to keep edges much smoother than most programs' "Resize" option. I cut the image size in half, then expand the canvas, and create a drop shadow around the original image. I chose fuzzy drop shadows and I also usually try to pick some color that's already present in the image which saves some space when I go to save the image. I crop on the combined image and drop shadow and then save the image as a jpeg, sometimes reducing the color depth first if it's a really big image.

    The pans would seem to be simple. Stick the images together edge to edge and be done. Well, it's not quite that easy. All the pans had at least 3 images. As I rotated the camera each picture usually got darker or lighter. I brought all the images into one big canvas, but still separated, selected each one and changed the brightness levels usually to try to match the side images with the center.

    Beyond that, all the images overlapped. If one image overlaps another by an inch. I'd usually trim the first by half an inch and then lay it on top of the other to avoid trying to line up the very edge of the picture because it may be distorted.

    Lastly, there was pretty bad parallax for all images. Horizontal lines only lined up vertically near the center of the images (close to the horizon). Anything above or below the center was usually distorted in some way so I made liberal use of the clone brush to move things up or down a little where needed. I also tried to avoid the problem as much as possible by putting my breaks on natural vertical boundaries (fence posts, light poles, mountain valleys.. etc)

    Once everything was stuck together I went to work with PSP's re-touch tool, and in particular the "Smudge" option to blend the sky, clouds, land and water together. The clone brush came in hand for fixing up puffy white clouds and closeup grass. I used the clone brush frequently with an opacity of only 50% which keeps everything from truly looking cloned.

    I put the whole page together and after the first person saw it, I knew I was going to have problems with formatting. Some people like it narrow, some people like it wide, so I went back and put everything in tables so that the choice of width would be mine instead of theirs. I mention this here, simply because it took as long to set up the tables and formatting as it did to do all the other stuff above. The other notable thing is that I couldn't put the monster pans into tables because they would expand the width of the table and thus the width of the text, which is unacceptable. Therefore, I broke up the pages such that there were 2 to 4 tables per page.

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