Fun with Photosynth

As I have blogged before, I like taking the odd picture - and I'm also a bit of a sucker for technology and gadgetry.

As a consequence, the new toys from Microsoft Research are right up my street. Firstly, their ICE tool - or Image Composite Editor - just requires you to upload a series of adjacent images and it lovingly stitches them together to form a panoramic view. Most people probably have a similar tool in their photo editing software, but I have found the results from ICE fairly impressive, neatly blending the edges and smoothing the joins. It reacts better to more detailed images, where it can clearly detect and line up the joins -  had a couple of more variable results with scenic views. Nevertheless, it rewards a bit of persistence. It would be nice to have the ability to manually tweak the results but at the "free" price point, it seems somehow churlish to be whinging.

The embedded thing above is the result of a combination of using ICE and also the MS Photosynth site - it requires Silverlight if you are having trouble seeing it.

Photosynth allows you to take your ICE creations and to upload them (and link to Bing Maps) to allow all and sundry to whizz round your photos in a manner reminiscent of Google Streetview. All very flashy and rather pleasing when you have a nice picture to start with.

I have used a few old pictures I took last year from Scrabo to illustrate but I also have a notion to take a series of pictures from the inside of a competition circle of pipers and drummer which I think might prove very effective (doubtless it has been done before, but don't shatter my illusions).

There seem to be relatively few Photosynth images uploaded from Northern Ireland onto Bing, so get out there and get snapping and stitching.

2 responses
There is an alternative to ICE for getting panoramas onto Photosynth, namely a plugin created for Photoshop. I believe that it is currently only for Photoshop for Windows, as it relies on the Photosynth app for Windows to do the uploading, but it will allow for manual correction of any stitching errors in your panos before uploading them.

You can find two web log posts about it and the download link here:

In addition to panos, Photosynth also hosts synths.

Whereas a panorama should be shot with the camera's lens remaining at the same spot in the air as it turns around, a synth should be shot from many different positions, distances, and angles of the same object or set of objects (although there should never be a gap of more than 25 degrees between the two closest adjacent photos of a subject if you wish them to link and neither should a subject more than double in size between two shots of it). Given this varied view of a subject, Photosynth will begin to solve its shape in 3D. The rendering will only be a point cloud, rather than a solid surface, however the result can still be striking.

If you want to capture the view from just one position, a pano is definitely the way to go, however if you wish to take your audience on a tour around a space or view an object from all sides, a synth is the format of choice.

Thanks for the information, Nate.

I have seen reference to the Photoshop plug-in and have viewed some pretty impressive results using that method, although I don't have photoshop myself.

I have uploaded a couple of Synths directly - views from Fort Sumter - again, they originally started life as panos but the Synth process gives them a much greater "feel", even though they don't have the "depth" due to the way in which they were shot.

I still hope to play about with the process a bit and may post the results if they are reasonable enough. Anyone wanting to look at the other uploaded images can go to

Thanks again for all the info, Nate.