The joy of synthing: some suggestions for better results

Because Photosynth uses photos differently than other photographic processes, it means you’re going to have to shoot your scene or object in a way you may not be used to.  Among the things we did lots of times before learning not to:

- Not taking enough pictures.  Photosynth requires lots of images.  With memory card prices going down and sizes going up, go crazy and take more than you think you’ll need.  You really want to cover your subject thoroughly.  But don’t just shoot random pictures—think about how they’re going to tie together, and how you’ll be navigating through your synth.  Be methodical about how you shoot.

- Taking pictures that don’t knit together.  We repeat this lot, but that’s because it’s so important: each of your pictures should have at least 50% overlap from the previous picture.  When you take pictures at drastically different angles Photosynth can’t match them up and you end up with ‘orphans’, pictures that don’t connect to any others.  So even though you've taken lots of pictures (because you read the paragraph just above this one), that doesn't mean you should use them all --leave out the ones that won't connect to the others.

- Poor choice of subject.  Things with extremely complex or repeating patterns don't usually work very well (like a willow tree, for example).   Things that are really colorful make great pictures, but not great synths, because Photosynth doesn’t look at color, it looks at texture.  Look at the ‘
Nice and Synthy’ section of the site, and see what worked.  Look at the 2-D view of the pictures and see how they fit together, how many pictures were used, and the angle at which they were taken.

So, let's get synthing!

Comments (8)

  1. Jason Coyne says:

    Are there any options in the works to allow merging of synths?  Seems like the community as a whole could end up with some pretty amazing things even more than individuals.

    How about synth import from major photo sites? I upload all my photos to smugmug, and would have to re-download all the originals (ugh) to set up a synth 🙁

  2. I disapprove of the implicit advice to omit photos that connect less than 50% with other shots!

    First, I’ve had surprisingly good results from batches of photos not shot systematically, some less than 50% overlapping. Second, leaving out photos that one knows are really part of the same scene will prevent the felicitous outcome, where merged synths – or synths with a few extra photos added – produce a combined synth that is as a whole more synthy than its most synthy input synth.

    In any case, it would be a shame if this initial public stage of Photosynth were to become full of participants desperately trying for a high synthy score, rather than trying out Photosynth with challenging photo sets.

  3. Also, improvements to the Photosynth algorithm (even non-core stuff like making use of tags, or EXIF time and location) may also raise the synthy score on existing synths, making it a shame to prefilter photosets.

  4. GoodTV says:

    "So even though you’ve taken lots of pictures (because you read the paragraph just above this one), that doesn’t mean you should use them all –leave out the ones that won’t connect to the others."

    It’s digital and I can take a zillion photos at no cost. I am NOT going to go thru all my photos and try and decide what ones to leave in. That’s what Photosynth is supposed to do!!! Just because it’s new and not nearly as powerful as it will likely become, doesn’t mean I’m going to adopt a method that uses up WAY too much of my time.

    If those photos lower my synthy score, I  really don’t care. The burden to improve this should be on the software, not the photographer! When the software gets better, then I can resysnth it.

    Every non-synthy photo still has a place in this whole virtual earth idea, so why encourage people to waste a bunch of time going through photos, when they will ALL eventually have a use?

    Taking digital photos is EASY, looking through them all and having to make decisions is time consuming!

  5. Roytheartist says:

    Hi, I have only just started with this extroadinary software. I was extremely struck by the similarity between the results and the experience compared to seeing one of David Hockneys polaroid (early instant image camera) assembled artworks. I am interested in different ways of creating art, and tools, new and old. I coincidentally started a new blog to discuss these (mainly with myself!). I wonder if you ought to contact Mr. Hockney in some way, I think he would be fascinated.


  6. Ryan says:

    I made synth of my Car & it turned out quite well, 86%

    Check out and let me know what you think.

  7. Lorimer says:

    Hi. I find Photosynth really groundbreaking. Have tried embedding a synth in a blog using the recently released Google Chrome as browser and apparently, Photosynth does not yet support Chrome. When do you intend to make the necessary adjustments? Thanks

  8. nSeika says:

    I’m wondering if pictures you know are connected can be linked using the “make panoramic” from Live Photo Gallery first to add more guides for Photosynth.

    But without previews, and since it should be re-calculated anyway, the effort sounds really tedious.

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