HD View from Microsoft Research

I've recently developed a liking for panorama photography, and already created quite a few panoramas for my other blog on our house restoration project. But the real problem with these panoramic views is that while they were created in Photoshop using several high-res source images, viewing them on a website isn't that exciting, because I needed to significantly reduce the image and add a simple scroll bar to make it even fit within the confines of a blog.

So I started experimenting with the HD View technology from Microsoft Research this weekend. Their new Beta 3 adds exciting features for HDR (which I described in a previous blog post) and fisheye lens effects. And being an XML Aficionado I am, of course, very excited that HD View images are described using an XML manifest document.

To create an HD View image you have several tools available, including a Photoshop plug-in. I used this approach to create a new panorama from 20 individual source photos shot in 10.1 megapixel using a Sony DSC T-700. Click on the following image to open a new window with the HD View browser plug-in (you may need to install the plug-in first - and it is available for IE and FireFox):

Click to open HD View

This is a view of the Atlantic ocean from Beach Bluff Park at Preston Beach - right at the border between Marblehead and Swampscott. The house on the left is our restoration project. The seawall on the right collapsed in a Northeaster in April 2007 and the Clifton Improvement Association is presently raising funds to rebuild it this spring.

The above panorama only had 55 mega-pixel of data, since it was created from just 20 images. But the HD View technology is scalable up to giga-pixel images created from thousands of individual shots. Take a look at these examples created by Bernhard Vogl in Austria...

TechEd, Open XML, and HDR Photography

While being at TechEd in Orlando, FL, last week, I had lunch with Doug Mahugh and we talked about the upcoming ODF support in Office 2007 SP2, the new features in the Open XML SDK, Altova's new support for Open XML diff/merge in DiffDog, creation of Open XML from StyleVision, and data integration and mapping for Open XML in MapForce, as well as various other XML-related topics.

We also talked about some other industry topics and finally came to chat about HDR (high dynamic range) photography. Doug sent me a few links to some of his recent photos, and this one impressed me the most.

I couldn't help it and had to get the software the same day. However, as I had left my Canon SLR camera at home for this trip, I wasn't able to test-drive HDR imaging until I got back home today:


Obviously, this isn't a particularly exciting scene - I just shot from our balcony towards the end of the cul-de-sac. I used an automatic exposure bracketing of ±2 and loaded all three images into Photomatix and then played with some settings in the tone-mapping to create some vibrant and surreal colors.

But I still like the result quite a bit - it makes me want to go out and take some HDR photos of Marblehead harbor and experiment with other local scenes where the high dynamic range can come into play nicely.