Macro Stitching a Moth

Macro Stitching a Moth - Final Result
Macro Stitching a Moth - Final Result

This panorama of Oleander Hawk-moth is by using 5 macro photos. In this tutorial I will use Adobe Photoshop CS4 which has greatly improved panorama tools, to produce this macro panorama. This version makes stitching odd photos so much easier than any other program I know of. If you notice these photos are not sequential like the normal pano shots we take. I took this way just to check the capability of Adobe Photoshop CS4 in identifying various segments. You will notice first two shots are of right and left wing, then three shots are of the body from top to bottom. This sort of mixed arrangement stumped most stitching applications out there.

My earlier favorite was PTGUI. When I tried it with these photos it failed miserably to recognize control points. The resulting panorama was a horrible mess. Adobe Photoshop CS4 excels in the aspect of recognition of various segments in the photos.

I was trying to photograph without tripod that day. My Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro was not able to get the full moth at 1:1 magnification. I used 20mm Kenko extension tube along with 100 mm and photographed the moth in 5 pieces with the intention of stitching together later.

I had to make sure that background was as clutter less as possible. This was easy as it was quite dark outside and I was using my Canon MT-24EX macro twin light flash so that background would be dark.

Next thing I wanted to make sure that there will be at least 20% overlap of parts in each photo, otherwise Photoshop will find it difficult to stitch them together.

Macro Stiching a Moth - Select Files
Macro Stiching a Moth - Select Files

Once I imported the photos to Adobe Lightroom I selected these 5 shots and chose Edit in Photoshop as panorama.

Macro Stitching a Moth - Send to Photoshop
Macro Stitching a Moth - Send to Photoshop

After churning out a bit, Photoshop CS4 produced this beautiful image of the Oleander moth all stitched together.

Macro Stitching a Moth - Panorama on Photoshop
Macro Stitching a Moth - Panorama on Photoshop

I flattened all the layers and filled the transparent area with black around the moth. I also cropped and rotated to get this final result in Photoshop. So what we have at the end is around 100 mega pixel image of moth which is perfectly stitched and exposure blended. You can see this image at the beginning of this post.

If only I had tripod handy that day, I would have used macro focusing rail and could have taken several shots using canon MP-E 65mm 1x-5x macro and produced 1000 mega pixel monster photo ๐Ÿ˜‰ ha ha, I was just joking ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway it was fun to try this panorama like stitching using macro that too with shots which were hand held. Photoshop CS4 has really improved its method of Photomerge and produces seamless stitching with excellent results. I hope this small tutorial helps many macro shooters out there who find their subject too big to fit in one frame ๐Ÿ˜‰

9 thoughts on “Macro Stitching a Moth”

  1. Hi,

    I happened to bump into this very unique attempt from your pointer in INW.
    Its a really nice effort and the results are just perfect. You might just want to see it on a very big print and enjoy the results.
    Thanks for sharing the technique and also a very beautiful image.

    -Shivakumar

  2. Thank you for the great compliment,

    I am planning to print it out on a large print to see how it looks actually in print.

    – Krishna Mohan

  3. That’s beautiful work Doctor. You have presented it very well, with the correct amount of detail while keeping it brief at the same time. Thanks much.

  4. Thanks Adnan,
    Making the tutorial look complicated would have ruined the fun involved in doing it (also too much of typing is bad for fingers ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
    -Krishna Mohan

  5. un believable..but since you have done it i have to believe…the very next thing i gonna do is to try it..TFS

  6. Excellent Idea! But as in any stitching the final result is not always flawless on close-up. There is a soft-focus spot on the middle area of left wing which gives away that there was a stitch as the rest is focused with impeccable details!

    I have never seen this guy in moth form, but I did find one in larval form and he had the face of a bull dog!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/10870940@N08/8460379412/in/photostream

    I really enjoyed your site. I came here looking to ID a giant millipede I saw in Ponmudi, Trivandrum .. similar to the African Giant Millipede ..so far I could not find any picture that’s similar to what I saw. Getting information on Indian flora/fauna has always been a challenge..but I guess that’s the fun part ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Thank you Dr. Krishna,
    I came here looking for more information on the inchworm and Geometer moths and found this photoshop tutorial.
    I assume you wrote this a while ago – a little lazy to scroll and find out.
    Not only is the tutorial a simple answer to my quandary – that of shooting relative portions of slow moving or flash frozen macros together. Such a simple and lucid tutorial.
    Thank you I have had the tools right under my nose and now have progressed to CS6.
    Sigh! If only I had used my common sense. I am thrilled.
    Thank you,
    Nicolas Rao

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