Tsarskoe Selo and adventures in photoshop

As part of my recent trip (honeymoon) to Russia and other places, I visited the amazing Tsarskoe Selo and Catherine Palace, named for Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great and best known for its Amber Room. My words cannot describe the magnificence of the the main palace building and the grandeur of the surrounding grounds. Thankfully I had my camera with me.

In this case, I want to talk only about one particular ceiling mural that I found particularly impressive. I was so impressed by this ceiling mural that I took a hand full of pictures of it from different angles trying to capture just how impressive I found it. In taking these pictures, I had no intention of attempting to merge them together into a coherent image of the ceiling as a whole. I do wish now that I had that explicit intention as the results you are about to see would have been more impressive.

So here are the individual frames.

As I looked at this series of frames, i realised that without intending to, I had actually captured most of the surface of the ceiling. With that I decided to attempt to construct a complete image of the mural.

My first step was to ask Photoshop to perform an Photomerge, File > Automate > Photomerge. I left the settings on Auto, added the files and hit go. I was very impressed with the results, perhaps because it was my first time using this feature and also because the images were not taken with this output in mind..


From here my first step was to try to straighten the image out. I used a combination of Skew, Perspective and Warp to mush the picture into something a little more square. Then I set about filling in the detail. This largely involved some copy and past from the bottom left where the outline of the mural was the most complete and rotating, warping and blending this into the other three corners. That was much easier to write than my experience of performing those actions. I then clone stamped and healed some of the areas that still needed some extra detail filling in and the edges where I had no detail at all. This is the result… but don’t look too closely at the detail. There are a number of places where the merges are not perfect and the results are slightly misaligned. For my first effort at an undertaking of this kind, I’m pretty impressed and it helps me preserve my memory of what it looked like – not an exact perfect representation of the truth.

The purpose of doing this is to add it to a photo book that my wife and I are making as a keepsake of our honeymoon and to that end, this meets our needs. I’m sufficiently fond of this image that may revisit it in the future when my Photoshop skills have improved to correct some of the more obvious errors in the detail.

If ever you are in Russia and near St. Petersburg, I encourage you to go to Catherine Palace. It’s a little bit of effort to get out to Pushkin but the effort is highly rewarded.


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