Photosynth app for iPhone captures proof of Santa’s magic

Posted: November 28, 2011 in apps, iphone, reviews, software
Tags: , , , , ,

The family and I went to the local Santa Claus Parade, the weather was perfect for it and its been a tradition of ours since the kids were little to attend at least one parade each year.  It is sort of the official start to the Christmas season for us.  One of the indicators that I need to get started on my part of the decorating and shopping as well so I’m not battling the crowds the week before Christmas cursing myself for leaving it so late… like i do each year it seems regardless of good intentions.  Maybe this year will finally be the one that changes that.
Getting back to the parade though, being the tech-geek I am my iPhone was close at hand to capture some of the sights and I thought what a perfect chance to try out a relatively new App that a co-worker told me about a little while ago – PhotoSynth. (check it out here)

Believe it or not it’s a Microsoft app for the iPhone.  I know!  That’s pretty cool in itself that they are creating apps for the iPhone, but that’s only part of it.  It works really well and surprisingly quickly too considering it has a lot of calculations to do when stitching the photos together. This kinda programming is making me rethink my constant bashing of M$, or at the very least, give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to most of their new products and programs, still not going to forgive them for Vista, but I digress.

The free app is a simple photography app that prompts you when it is going to take another photo by a little green square lighting up in the frame which basically lets you know when to move and reframe the scene you are trying to shoot.  You just move your camera around slowly, wait for the green rectangle and the beep, and then move the camera again, repeating until you are done.  Simple really, and oh so effective and fun.

Some subjects work better than others and my thinking was, how will it work on moving subjects in a street scene.  Not too shabby is the answer, with one very strange outcome involving that jolly old elf himself.

I took a number of captures trying to get each grouping of floats and people, bands etc, as they passed us.  Some with good results, others with mixed results.  Maybe being higher up would have helped with the fisheye effect I was getting by standing still and just slowly turning the camera to film the entire road, which was straight not curved as the finished photos would have you believe.  (click on photos to see larger image)

the finished product.  capturing the entire marching band in one photo

Photosynth does do a fairly decent job of catching an entire marching band though, something that would not have been possible while standing so close to the action.When capturing the street scene as the trailer carrying Santa was passing by is when things got interesting.

the auto cropped version of the same photo. noticed the nice clean edges.

When showing the above photo to my kids is when I noticed something missing.  The building in behind seems fine, the people walking seem to be fine, even the people watching from the side of the road, but notice behind the red truck in front of the people wearing black, a blurry area with the trailer missing?  That was where Santa was.  For some reason it was the only part of the parade blurred out or missing.  I checked the panoramic photo by zooming in on the uncropped version, but sure enough good old Saint Nick was not to be seen.Camera Shy? Maybe, but I prefer to think that it was the real Santa in this parade and didn’t like to be captured on film so he used a little of his Christmas magic to obscure him from my camera.I mean really, what else could it be? You may say a software glitch, but I think not.I’m not sure how the parade organizers got a hold of Santa to do a personal appearance this time of year, or even if they knew that they had gotten the real one and not one of his numerous stand ins, but kudos to them.It was nice to see him again, and great he could take time out of his busy schedule to make an appearance, even if it was only in person and not on film.As the jolly old man said, Merry Christmas everyone.  Enjoy it, cherish it, embrace it, and celebrate the little kid inside all of us this holiday season.tcg

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