Home > education, Photography, software > Hugin and correction of photographic distortion

Hugin and correction of photographic distortion


Superconducting conductors arriving at Fermilab, credits at end.

None of you will know I have history in photography, award winning, newspaper front page, glossy magazine front page, etc., none earth shattering but it was a personal challenge in the film era. Put another way I have an interest from both the art and technical perspective.

I intended producing a minor blog post on Fermilab and the magnet, ideally posts need a good headline photograph, what with copyright and poor technical standards this is often tricky. My own blog, this one, tends to get poor art.

Public Relations at many major laboratories provide photographs, the origin of the head photo but all is not as it looks.


Above is preview of the head photo in the tool Hugin after geometric correction for the use of a very wide angle lens, apparently 16mm focal length (35mm basis). This kind of usage of Hugin is less common, it’s primary usage is stitching of images into panoramas etc.

In this case it was fairly trivial to do and came out easily, luck. All I did as use the straight edges of the building as vertical and horizontal references, tool can then be persuaded to do what you want.

Then crop to artistic taste.

Unfortunately the camera, probably the lens is not very good on flare, geometrically it is good for a wide angle. The intense light off the building is flaring, can be seen in the uneven sky intensity. Not helped the colour rendition of the truck. Being picky? Maybe, would get rejected by professional photo editors, at least old school unless there is a genuine interest in some other aspect.

Dealing with newspaper photo editors is educational, drop a pile of photos, flick, this one like that (crop). And they are right, “the eye”. Learn from experience. Most people know intuitively what is pleasing.

Today I still have the film Nikon with a good selection of kit but only an old digital, photography has moved away. As ever it is horribly expensive. Cameras seem to have gone backwards on ergonomics, silly complication and restrictions get in the way, ergonomics is what makes a great tool.

Sadly my eyesight is failing,perhaps the best way for an observer, gone long sighted, still excellent, but close work, I’m very hands on, has become unpleasant. Cameras, no money for that. Another silliness is excessive pixel resolution, an origin is promotion of big numbers as better, not true. Maybe that is part of a series of why so.


Original at blog width. Photographer’s mistake is pointing the camera upwards, keep it dead level or use a professional camera/lens, rising front camera or architectural lens. (moves lens off image centre), Show your shoes? Tough. What a viewfinder is for, watch the verticals.

Alternative is use a tall step ladder, then it is a different viewpoint.

Fermilab images

Hugin, cross platform.

  1. tom0mason
    August 6, 2014 at 09:59

    Cheers Tim good pictures.
    This all brings back memories of the upgrading from the old box browie to a secondhand Rolleiflex TLR camera. I had that great camera for years and still used it even when I ‘upgraded’ to 35mm SLR. Remembering how to line-up the shots, bracket the exposures, and of course using light-meters. It wasn’t till I finally saved enough money and got a Canon A1 with a Canon 45-105mm (f4.5) zoom did I really start having fun. Not professional like you, just stuff I liked. Funny the IR meters of today always remind me of the old spot meters of yesteryear.

    PS. The new look blog is very swish, very modern looking 🙂

    • August 7, 2014 at 22:19

      Oops, I didn’t notice a reply on my own blog.

      Rollei’s were loved by many. Never owned one myself but a long long time ago I think I handled one. Completely different techniques.
      We have many medium format negs where unlike 35mm alas I have no scanner.

      I suspect the ubiquity of zoom lens have done great damage, generations who have too many fiddle factors at the same time as not very good equipment. There seems little opportunity now to use depth of field, and learn to focus. When I see supposed wonderful portraits misfocused, probably automatics, oh dear. Money where mouth is

      Ceiling bounce flash. (click for larger)

      It ought to be more of think what you want, is feasible, choose lens for viewpoint, we have legs.

      Anyway, whole thing is supposed to be fun. I certainly wouldn’t call myself professional, just knowledgeable enough some of the time. Some pros I have met are up tight, the business mostly died years ago, not viable for a living, at least if you want to enjoy work.

      Spot meters. Anything that works. For night work they are vital as are incident readings. A proper optical spotmeter now there is a fun tool, not that I could afford one. Most of my stuff was second hand. Then there is knowing how to minimise limitations, poor lens wide open so don’t use it wide open. Carry a tripod.

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