The big picture

Yesterday I took a step back and showed you some photos of my backyard garden. I was hoping to give you a better sense of how everything was arranged: what plants were where, how things looked together. Today I'll give you an even better look -- well, it's still not the whole garden at once, but it will help.

First, here's a photo from the deck looking down onto part of the garden. It helps to have another perspective like this to figure out the layout and see how things look together.

That shot lets you see quite a bit of the patio and surrounding beds, but it's not the whole garden. Good thing I can do even better than that. By taking a series of overlapping photos, something like this...

I turned (rotated) from left to right as I took those, and since I have overlapping details I can use photo stitching software to automatically create a panoramic image. Something like this:

Now that gives you an overview of the garden! (click it for a full-sized image)

If you scrutinize this photo you'll see that there are "bad" areas where the software couldn't line things up, and there's some distortion and blurriness. Actually, you don't even have to look that closely -- it's obvious when looking at the straight lines of the pergola. There are three reasons for that. First, I'm holding the camera by hand, so things change a bit whenever I move. Second, I'm shooting down at a weird angle that introduces some distortion. Third, I'm using the free software that came with my Canon point-and-shoot camera.

There are probably better stitching software packages available, and I'll be investigating them soon, but for now I have to stick with what I have. I think it does a pretty good job for the price.

Here's a better example:

This one turned out better since I was shooting straight outward, not down. It would have been even better if I had used a tripod, but I again was shooting by hand so the camera rotated a bit as I went along. (How many bamboo plantings can you count in this photo?)

Again you can see some "bad" areas (click it to enlarge), but overall I think it's a pretty good job. Even with these flaws, I think these panoramic shots are a great record of the garden, and I'll take several more shots like this throughout the year. I have a few photos like this from when my garden was just a baby, and it's really nice to have them for comparison. I wish I had more!

Even stitching two photos together creates a much wider-angle view of your garden, and you don't need an expensive wide-angle lens to do it either. The only bad thing about these super-wide images: not so easy to print unless you have a fancy printer that can print on rolls of photo paper instead of sheets.

More panoramic shots coming throughout the summer.

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