An up-to-date look at free software and its makers

Projects on the Move

© Kirill Zdorov, Fotolia

© Kirill Zdorov, Fotolia

Article from Issue 93/2008
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We take a closer look at photo stitching, a photo gallery application, an audio player, and video-recording software. for a more complete summary of the article.

In the age of digital cameras, most people are capable of taking reasonable photos. To make an impression with photos, you have to do something really special. Stitching is one option, but this has nothing to do with traditional handicrafts. These days, stitching means piecing individual photos together to create a large-scale panoramic image.

Now that high-quality digital cameras are affordable and pocket-sized, photo stitching is becoming increasingly popular. A good camera is no guarantee of a usable photographic panorama – you need some software to help piece individual images together in, for example, GIMP. The community has a solution for this problem, and its popularity is growing to keep pace with the popularity of stitching.

Hugin

Hugin is a program for photo stitching on Linux and other Unix-style operating systems [1]. The authors call their software a "simple collection of tools for creating panorama photos." Hugin comprises three smaller tools that live behind a clear-cut and functional interface.

Assuming you have the right kind of original image material, Hugin supports simple drag-and-drop-based stitching. Photos for stitching must be part of a larger panoramic image, and they must overlap at the edges.

To improve the fit of the individual sections, the use of a tripod is a good idea. After loading the photos you want to stitch, you need to define reference points that Hugin will use to join the photos (Figure 1). In next to no time, you have a panoramic image.

Figure 1: In Hugin, users draw circles around reference points to stitch images together for a perfect fit.

Gallery 2

Online photo galleries – with panoramic photos or simple snapshots – keep popping up on the Internet like mushrooms out of the ground. The most widespread software solution is Menaltos Gallery 2 [2]. In the past, the PHP-based software was vulnerable to all kinds of security bugs, in part because it suffers from functional overload.

The online setup – with no fewer than 10 configuration steps – is a clumsy piece of work and unnecessary if you just want to publish a couple of photos on a website.

Bpgallery

With the Gallery 2 problems in mind, Brett Parker created a shell script as an alternative to the many heavyweight gallery applications. Users can set a couple of environmental variables, such as the width of the HTML page, and pass the photo folder in to the script as a command-line argument.

The solution, known as Bpgallery [3], can't hope to compete with the functionality of Gallery 2; on the other hand, it doesn't need PHP support or a database. Bpgallery simply creates a static HTML page that you can then upload to the server.

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