Improving Hugin on OS X

A couple of years ago a friend introduced me to Hugin. Hugin is software for stitching together photos into panoramas.

We were traveling together in the south of France and trying our best to photograph the landscape. Single regular photos of flat, but beautiful, landscape tends to result in dull images.

Take a series of slightly dull photos and combine them into a panorama, and ta-da! now you have a photo that evokes the landscape you saw.

Pont du Gard, France
Pont du Gard, France

I have found Hugin 2014 to be less able that previous versions when relying on the simplified interface. Today I discovered how to install an external tool to assist Hugin and in turn create better panoramic photos.

Install autopano-shift-c

These following steps will install and tell Hugin to use a more capable control point detector.

  1. Install Homebrew on your Mac
  2. Using brew, install autopano-sift-c using the command:

    brew install autopano-sift-c

  3. Open Hugin’s preferences: Hugin.app > Hugin (menu) > Preferences > Control Point Detectors

    Hugin 2014's Preferences on OS X
    Hugin 2014’s Preferences on OS X
  4. Select Autopano-SIFT-C (Configured, not installed)
  5. Update Program to point to the installed autopano-sift-c tool. At the time of writing this is: /usr/local/bin/autopano-sift-c
  6. Select OK, and Set Default

With the new tool installed and setting applied, Hugin should now be able to detect more control points. Meaning better matches between individual photos and better stitched panoramic photos.

Beaujolais Region

We recently enjoyed our first visit the Beaujolais region of France. This region produces world famous wines and the landscape is a mass of vineyards in every direction. Megan recently shared photos of the Oingt, a village in the Beaujolais.

View from Oingt, a village in Beaujolais
View from Oingt, a village in Beaujolais

During our day out I also took my quota of photos and footage. I am a little behind with processing my photos but this morning I made the time to create a short film of what we saw. The result is available on my Graham Miln YouTube channel and embedded below:

Mounted Police in the Park

The mounted police seem to have become a regular feature in the park recently. They attract attention from excited children and curious adults alike. This pair drew a small crowd of onlookers as they tried to encourage their horses to walk through some newly-erected banners.

Mounted police
The horse stopped in front of the banner and went no further

Photos – Connecting to Library

I logged into the computer this morning to discover a notification. The notification said new photos were available in my Shared Photos album. Excited and keen to see the latest snapshots from family in Australia, I launched Photos.

It took me a moment to realise the Shared section was missing. I hunted through the menus looking for something related to shared content, iCloud, or some such cloudy wording. Under the View menu, I found Shared. This seemed to do the trick.

The main window changed to showing the large message:

Connecting To Library…
Retrieving latest photo sharing activity.

And there it sat for a few minutes. Nothing happening, presumably waiting for a connection to Apple’s servers.

Apple's Photos: Connecting To Library
Apple’s Photos: Connecting To Library

After a couple of minutes, a new message appeared. It read:

iCloud Photo Sharing
Share photos and videos with just the people you choose, and let them add photos, videos, and comments.

Not a reassuring message. I have shared albums; I have hundreds of shared photos. I saw them only yesterday.

Apple's Photos: Start Sharing
Apple’s Photos: Start Sharing

Given horrific past experiences toggling iCloud on and off, there was no chance I would press the “Start Sharing” button looming underneath the new message.

I quit Photos feeling disappointed and went out to the market with Megan.

On our return I relaunched the Photos application and met with the same response. No shared photos and an increasing sense of annoyance.

This is not the first time I have seen these screens. It has happened before and I have simply waited out the problem.

I lodged feedback with Apple. I know it makes little difference but I like to imagine someone might read it.

Megan sat next to me with her MacBook and launched iPhotos – the application Photos has replaced. The same Shared Albums I could not access appeared on her Mac. The new photos shared overnight appeared.

While Megan could see the photos, I could not. We shared the same network connection and albums.

Fixing iCloud Photo Sharing

Frustrated I quit Photos and launched Activity Monitor. I filtered all running processes by the phrase “photos” and systematically quit each. Those that did not respond to a quit, were force quit.

Activity Monitor showing photo related processes
Activity Monitor showing photo related processes

With that done, I launched Photos. Seconds later the Shared Albums appeared.

So a fix of sorts. Some background process is causing problems. Force quit provides a quick solution but is a terrible course of action for anyone to rely on.

Emotional Response

I care deeply about my photos and my ability to share photos privately with family. It is important in feeling connected with family living in different countries to ourselves.

We use Apple’s photo sharing services because they typically work. Photos are available on family iOS devices and Macs. But I am painfully aware of family who use PCs and only have a non-iOS device and are locked out of these shared photos.

I stick with Apple’s solution because it promises to be easy for the majority of our family. Recently the balance between sticking with Apple’s solution and finding something new – with all the technical burden that risks – is shifting.