Soccer Game Panorama Created in Photoshop

At the beginning of the Texas State UIL 4A High School Soccer Championship SemiFinal game between Mequite Poteet Pirates and the Mansfield Legacy Broncos the two teams paraded out to the center of the field and were introduced by name and number to the audience. I really liked the way Legacy lined up in numeric order so it was easy to spot the player being announced. This kind of subtle discipline is evidence of a good coach who in just 2 season had taken his team to State.

I also saw this as an opportunity to play with my camera. Using my Canon EOS Rebel XTi and 70-300mm lens I fired of 5 quick handheld pictures of the teams panning from right to left. I was careful to make sure that that frames overlapped as I panned. I could have zoomed out and taken one wide shot. I could have switched lenses for an even wider shot. I chose not to do that because I knew I could get more detail with a panorama method.

I got the pictures home and opened them up in Photoshop. I used Photoshop’s “Photomerge…” command located under the File > Automate menu item. This command accepts a series of pictures and automatically decides how they fit together. It proceeds to put each image on a separate layer and mask out the unwanted parts. The resulting picture after cropping was 200 MB.

The next step in the process is to crop the image. Since my pictures were all handheld, you could see that my horizon was not constant as I panned. The computer also takes care of any distortion based on my point of view. I cropped the image to keep the most picture.

After cropping the image I wasn’t done yet. The turn out for the game on the Mansfield side was really good. The stadium was very full due to a liberal policy from our school’s principal and district to support our team at this away game in Georgetown on a school day. The fans on the opposing team’s side appeared to consist mainly of parents of the players. So it looked like our boys were playing for an empty stadium. I again used Photoshop to copy some of the audience and paint in some additional fans. The result is a respectable turnout for the game.

Finally I applied a tilt focus trick to the picture. I started by selecting the entire image except for the center band across the picture where the players stood. This included the fans at the top and the grass in the foreground. I applied a Gaussian Blur of 1 pixel to the selected area. I changed my selection progressing toward the top and bottom of the image away from the player selecting less and less of the picture. I tried to line up with elements on the screen as I changed the selection. With each selection I applied a Gaussian Blur with an ever greater pixel size until I reached 5 pixels. At this point just the top of the stadium and the extreme foreground were affected. The intention is to create a fake Bokeh effect. This draws your eye to the players. It also make them look miniature.

I liked the way it turned out and wanted to share it here with a bit of explanation. I’ve included the source images below so you can see what the stands looked like.

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