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How to take HDR 360 with AEB automatically

Andrex

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I often use the 360 panorama mode in DJI Go app for creating 360 photos. I have settings set to capture RAW files, so that back home I can edit the 26 individual photos it takes and then stitch together using PT Gui.

I also sometimes use the automatic exposure bracketing (AEB) mode on individual photos to take 3-5 photos which are later merged to create HDR images.

What I'd like to know is, can I use AEB mode on a 360 pano, to create an HDR photo sphere?

Ideally the drone would do it all automatically, capturing 78 RAW (DNG) files for a 3-bracket AEB, for example.

Is this possible? I can't see it in the settings.
 

BigAl07

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I'm pretty sure you can't "Combine" those features.

You "could" set it to AEB-3 and manually take each shot but that's a lot of guessing for overlap etc.
 

Andrex

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I'm pretty sure you can't "Combine" those features.

You "could" set it to AEB-3 and manually take each shot but that's a lot of guessing for overlap etc.
Yes, I'd rather not do that. Good thing about the DJI Go 360 mode is you press a button and wait about 30-40 seconds and it's done. Manually it would take longer and there's the potential for much more error.
 

brett8883

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I often use the 360 panorama mode in DJI Go app for creating 360 photos. I have settings set to capture RAW files, so that back home I can edit the 26 individual photos it takes and then stitch together using PT Gui.

I also sometimes use the automatic exposure bracketing (AEB) mode on individual photos to take 3-5 photos which are later merged to create HDR images.

What I'd like to know is, can I use AEB mode on a 360 pano, to create an HDR photo sphere?

Ideally the drone would do it all automatically, capturing 78 RAW (DNG) files for a 3-bracket AEB, for example.

Is this possible? I can't see it in the settings.
You could use Litchi to do this. Just set it so there’s a little bit of time between captures so the SD card can digest the three exposures before going to the next one.

Word of caution though, I don’t know that you will be able to maintain the HDR qualities of the photos into the 360 sphere.

An HDR photo before it is edited is either a 32 bit image or a 16 bit image with floating-point data that carries the dynamic range information.

A pano is a raster operation and most stitching programs will simply rasterize a raw image into a jpeg (8 bit photo) to create the pano stripping out the additional bit depth information (the dynamic range). There are programs like Lightroom that can retain the original dynamic range data after the pano operation but really that’s because it’s holding the pano calculations in cache and just re-processes the pano after each adjustment made to resulting pano. However, Lightroom doesn’t support 360 panos, at least not for easy use in a 360 viewer. You have to be careful with HDR photos so that you don’t strip out the dynamic range before you are done with it. Not all editors can handle it and most aren’t transparent about how they are treating the image.

Long way of saying that it may not be worth it. You could edit the HDR photos before stictching them together but you’d have to apply edits to each photo equally or it will come out looking weird which mostly negates the benefit of a HDR photo which is to be able to do local adjustments not otherwise feasible.

Hope you prove me wrong but my bet is that you aren’t gonna see an improvement in quality or dynamic range to justify the added time it will take to post process this.
 
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Doppler

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You could edit the HDR photos before stictching them together but you’d have to apply edits to each photo equally or it will come out looking weird which mostly negates the benefit of a HDR photo which is to be able to do local adjustments not otherwise feasible.
Merge the AEB sets into single HDR images first (no editing required) and then merge the HDR images into a pano in LR. LR will see it as an HDR pano and you can make all the editing required after the pano has been created.
 

brett8883

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Merge the AEB sets into single HDR images first (no editing required) and then merge the HDR images into a pano in LR. LR will see it as an HDR pano and you can make all the editing required after the pano has been created.
Normally yes but it will project the 360 pano as a 2D flat object, it won’t wrap around the viewer. You could try importing that object into a 360 viewer but in my experience it doesn’t come out very well. Maybe you have this part figured out.
 

Doppler

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Normally yes but it will project the 360 pano as a 2D flat object, it won’t wrap around the viewer. You could try importing that object into a 360 viewer but in my experience it doesn’t come out very well. Maybe you have this part figured out.
I have never tried one myself but there are plenty of programs (and a few websites) that generate a 3D-360 pano from the 2D pano image. I would say the objective here is to generate a 2D image with a high dynamic range, and hence why one would go through the trouble of shooting it in AEB in the first place.
 

brett8883

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I have never tried one myself but there are plenty of programs (and a few websites) that generate a 3D-360 pano from the 2D pano image. I would say the objective here is to generate a 2D image with a high dynamic range, and hence why one would go through the trouble of shooting it in AEB in the first place.
He said he was using PT GUI which is for making the 3D flavor of panos so I assume he means to output to the 3D wrap around kind of pano. You are correct about LR being able to combine .DNGs to make a composite HDR pano which retains all the original DNG information.

Looking closer at PT GUI the Pro version does support “HDR” using bracketed exposures directly but it applies tone mapping during the merging process so you don’t get to control the process like true HDR it may do this just fine, I’m not sure.

An important foot note is that the program looks for shutter speed to determine the brackets automatically so photos need to be taken with manual exposure to ensure that all the brackets are taken with the same shutter speeds. I believe this is different from Lightroom which determines brackets by EV and not shutter speed. Having said that it’s good practice to do this anyway to ensure consistent look.

PT GUI HDR Tutorial
E7D9F7F3-F365-4E2B-B907-39680FCF2FEE.jpeg
 

Andrex

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Yes, the objective is to produce full high-quality 360 'wrap around' panoramas à la Street View --> Google Maps

You can see in that previous example that there are some difficulties in capturing sky detail into the sun and shadow detail in the shade of the clouds.

I will try Litchi and see how it goes. The photos will then be brought into Photoshop for corrections, before being stitched in PTGui, before they are then corrected again in Photoshop and the missing sky part is added in. Thanks for the pointers.
 

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Using Litchi, I have had a go at an HDR panorama. Litchi was set to shoot JPG + RAW, with a 3 bracket AEB on 38 regular panorama photos. This totalled 114 DNG images (228 in total including JPG!)


I then used Lightroom to HDR merge each of the three bracket DNG photos to create 38 HDR photos. These were imported into PTGui (regular, not Pro), stitched, and then sent to Photoshop. In Photoshop I applied a content aware fill and touched up the top hole in the sky.

The result is OK, but the process was inefficient. I am also noticing some blotchiness and vignetting which I've tried correcting but don't feel like I've caught it all.

Also, shooting AEB 3 brackets with traffic moving along the motorway has obviously resulted in some weird results as vehicles move between frames...

Any feedback / improvements on this?
 

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The result is OK, but the process was inefficient. I am also noticing some blotchiness and vignetting which I've tried correcting but don't feel like I've caught it all.

Also, shooting AEB 3 brackets with traffic moving along the motorway has obviously resulted in some weird results as vehicles move between frames...

Any feedback / improvements on this?
If you are using a Mavic 2, just use the automated Pano Sphere function, with the setting of save original pano images (I suggest choosing jpg, because the DNG is overkill, but you can only do one or the other on panos), and then use PTGui to recreate a higher quality pano from the 26 originals. Works for me! Best on the M2P because the stills are 20MP and have a better dynamic range than the 12MP stills of the M2Z. Good luck!
 

brett8883

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Using Litchi, I have had a go at an HDR panorama. Litchi was set to shoot JPG + RAW, with a 3 bracket AEB on 38 regular panorama photos. This totalled 114 DNG images (228 in total including JPG!)


I then used Lightroom to HDR merge each of the three bracket DNG photos to create 38 HDR photos. These were imported into PTGui (regular, not Pro), stitched, and then sent to Photoshop. In Photoshop I applied a content aware fill and touched up the top hole in the sky.

The result is OK, but the process was inefficient. I am also noticing some blotchiness and vignetting which I've tried correcting but don't feel like I've caught it all.

Also, shooting AEB 3 brackets with traffic moving along the motorway has obviously resulted in some weird results as vehicles move between frames...

Any feedback / improvements on this?
You are kinda darned if you do and darned if you don’t cause using deghosting to rid of the moving cars will make the blotchiness worse.

You also are losing the HDR once put your photos into PT GUI. You’d have to batch edit them first before merging in PT GUI so you apply the same edits to all the photos and then stitch with PT GUI. You still will probably get some blotches cause some effects are localized even if they are applied globally.

Texture, sharpening, clarify, dehaze, noise reduction etc. apply corrections based on the make up of a pixel grouping and not all pixels equally. That’s where you blotchiness comes from. Unequal application of edits. Remember that Photoshop will apply edits like sharpening by default so you’d have to turn those sliders off.
 
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Andrex

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If you are using a Mavic 2, just use the automated Pano Sphere function, with the setting of save original pano images (I suggest choosing jpg, because the DNG is overkill, but you can only do one or the other on panos), and then use PTGui to recreate a higher quality pano from the 26 originals. Works for me! Best on the M2P because the stills are 20MP and have a better dynamic range than the 12MP stills of the M2Z. Good luck!
Excepting for the DNG, which isn't overkill, you have just described my standard process, without acknowledging the specific thread title elements requesting for HDR and AEB. Using your approach offers no HDR options, especially if you limit yourself to JPG.
 

Andrex

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You also are losing the HDR once put your photos into PT GUI. You’d have to batch edit them first before merging in PT GUI so you apply the same edits to all the photos and then stitch with PT GUI. You still will probably get some blotches cause some effects are localized even if they are applied globally.

Texture, sharpening, clarify, dehaze, noise reduction etc. apply corrections based on the make up of a pixel grouping and not all pixels equally. That’s where you blotchiness comes from. Unequal application of edits. Remember that Photoshop will apply edits like sharpening by default so you’d have to turn those sliders off.
Yes, my thoughts too, by processing individual photos into HDR first, localised settings are applied for HDR, which then don't work well when subsequently stitching all together in PTGui.

Would upgrading to PTGui Pro help, given that it includes some extra settings for HDR panoramas? HDR Panoramas with PTGui Pro - PTGui Stitching Software
 

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Excepting for the DNG, which isn't overkill, you have just described my standard process, without acknowledging the specific thread title elements requesting for HDR and AEB. Using your approach offers no HDR options, especially if you limit yourself to JPG.
You said your process was inefficient and resulted in all sorts of issues, and you asked for improvements. Automating the process using the built-in stitching and ceiling cloning couldn't be any easier, and is trouble free! HDR and AEB are not necessary, if you shoot in even lighting on cloudy, overcast days, or after sunset. They aren't worth the trouble IMHO. Twenty-six 20 MP jpg's offer plenty of detail to zoom in as far as you want. YMMV.
 

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I’ve done quite a few using Litchi. For now I’m using 5 bracketed jpeg AEB exposures. Set camera mode to AEB first, then switch to Pano. I don’t use the automatic panorama feature. I’ve had good results with 4 rows and 10 columns, spherical, with no extra time before or after the shot. I end up with 170 images. Litchi remembers your manual settings. I do the HDR merge first using Photomatix batch mode with 8-bit tiff output then stitch using PTGui. Sometimes the M2P moves a lot between shots and the stitch doesn’t go so well, so I like to do around 3 panos at a time to make sure I get the shot. Windy days with clouds are a challenge as there is lots of movement to deal with, and the pano process isn’t very fast. I’ve done this with an M2P, P4P and Inspire 1. M2P is the fastest. P4P close behind but the Inspire 1 is unusable as the time to shoot the brackets is too long and the drone moves too much. Inspire 1 can only shoot 1 5-bracket 360 per battery.
 
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Doppler

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I’ve done quite a few using Litchi. For now I’m using 5 bracketed jpeg AEB exposures. Set camera mode to AEB first, then switch to Pano. I don’t use the automatic panorama feature. I’ve had good results with 4 rows and 10 columns, spherical
Thanks for that @kawartha, I have made a note of it and will give it a try. I was also wondering if you have done any 180 panos and if so what settings you would recommend. I have tried 3 rows by 6 columns a few times and that works OK but would love to hear how others go about it.
 

Andrex

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I’ve done quite a few using Litchi. For now I’m using 5 bracketed jpeg AEB exposures. Set camera mode to AEB first, then switch to Pano. I don’t use the automatic panorama feature. I’ve had good results with 4 rows and 10 columns, spherical, with no extra time before or after the shot. I end up with 170 images. Litchi remembers your manual settings. I do the HDR merge first using Photomatix batch mode with 8-bit tiff output then stitch using PTGui. Sometimes the M2P moves a lot between shots and the stitch doesn’t go so well, so I like to do around 3 panos at a time to make sure I get the shot. Windy days with clouds are a challenge as there is lots of movement to deal with, and the pano process isn’t very fast. I’ve done this with an M2P, P4P and Inspire 1. M2P is the fastest. P4P close behind but the Inspire 1 is unusable as the time to shoot the brackets is too long and the drone moves too much. Inspire 1 can only shoot 1 5-bracket 360 per battery.
Thanks very much kawartha, a very useful post. Are you using the Photomatix HDR Batch plugin for Lightroom?

Have you published any examples of your HDR 360s online? I'd be interested to see them.

Next time I get a chance (once Storm Dennis has passed) I'll test this method out myself and report back my findings.
 

GadgetGuy

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I’ve done quite a few using Litchi. For now I’m using 5 bracketed jpeg AEB exposures. Set camera mode to AEB first, then switch to Pano. I don’t use the automatic panorama feature. I’ve had good results with 4 rows and 10 columns, spherical, with no extra time before or after the shot. I end up with 170 images. Litchi remembers your manual settings. I do the HDR merge first using Photomatix batch mode with 8-bit tiff output then stitch using PTGui. Sometimes the M2P moves a lot between shots and the stitch doesn’t go so well, so I like to do around 3 panos at a time to make sure I get the shot. Windy days with clouds are a challenge as there is lots of movement to deal with, and the pano process isn’t very fast. I’ve done this with an M2P, P4P and Inspire 1. M2P is the fastest. P4P close behind but the Inspire 1 is unusable as the time to shoot the brackets is too long and the drone moves too much. Inspire 1 can only shoot 1 5-bracket 360 per battery.
How long does this entire process take to get one usable finished pano? 5 hours? Is it really even noticeably better than the 60 seconds from start to finish that the M2P takes, including cloning in a ceiling/sky top? I have shot as many as 12 different panos over a 3 mile area in a single M2P flight. I do save the original 26 jpg images on each for post processing into a 75MP stitch, only on the best ones. However, when 95% of your viewers are viewing the pano on a smartphone, even it is overkill, and delays loading the extra detail, except for my own viewing pleasure on a desktop. Perfection is overrated. Sometimes good enough is good enough!
 
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