this Clinic, we will show you how to makeyour own photo composite based layouts
to use in TrainPlayer. For you to be able to do this task,
you will need, as a minimum, an Internet access to get the
necessary photos, a photo editing software to create the merged composite
picture and a plan of attack. We will be using the
TerraServer as our document base because all of its
photos are in the public domain. You can access this
When you first go to the TerraServer website, it will be
most beneficial for you if you have an exact street and city
address of the area that you would like to see. The
TerraServer presents you with several views including
topographical, aerial and urban - all with some date lines
associated with them. For TrainPlayer, your best choice is
the "urban areas" which are in color for the most part.
Remember, the major urban centres in the USA are fairly well
covered in this data base but some major railroad towns are NOT!
This is what the one of opening screens may look like in TerraServer.
Best Use of TerraServer
begin, look at the red boxes in the top left of the photo above. The box in the
top left corner with the 3
squares allows you to set the size of the viewing area; select
the largest size. The left hand box with the +/- allows you to
set the focal point for depth and zoom. Initially you may want to set it
at the fifth notch above the + sign since this will give you
enough depth of scene to spot large rail yards and points of
interest. We have made two large red boxes to illustrate a
couple of points on this photo that would be worth looking into.
Before you start to drill down further, click on the "Download" box
above the "Urban Areas" tab. This will allow you to more
easily save your detailed pictures when you're ready.
At the bottom of the page, TerraServer gives you some
instructions on how to actually save these photos. We
prefer the method as expalined in the red box above. I
always create a new folder on my Windows desktop with the
name of the city I'm working on as an easy reminder. Another tip
before you start saving your photos - plan the scene depth you
want to work with and plot out your photo coverage plan.
First set your scene depth:
Before moving on to the 1 pixel = 1 meter depth, mentally
plan out your photo coverage. Here's an example:
At this level 1 pixel = 8 meters, it looks like we will need to use a flexible
gride of 5 screen widths by 4 screen widths - a total of 25 photos to adequately
cover this water filtration plant and some nearby industries .
Typically an easy naming convention would be: top left photo is saved as 1.JPG, next
one to the right as 2 and so on until you get to the edge where you want to stop.
The beauty of the TerraServer site is that it automatically moves you one screen
to the right when you press the EAST button. Not only that, but it also
provides about a 25% overlap in the photo which your photo editing software will
need to "match" all these photos.
Once you reach the end of your row, you can click on SOUTH at
the bottom of the picture frame, to
go down one row. We suggest saving this photo as a
variation of the previous. In other words, if your row
ended with photo 5, the first picture SOUTH, would be saved as
photo 15. The reason for this is so that you can easily
remember that it is the first photo below #5 or 1 - 5.
This may prove useful if you photo editing software cannot
easily merge the total photos and you need to do it manually.
Now remember, this time we are going WEST, 1 screen at a time so
the next photo is #`14 and so on. Once you have completely
captured the photos you require, close your internet connection
and open up your photo editor software.
Our photo editing software of choice is Adobe Photo Shop but you
can use literally any one you choose so long as it can produce
either a "photo composite" or "photo panorama or merge". The
directions below all apply to the use of Adobe Photo Shop.
Step one is to "open" all of the photos associated with Berwyn
Navigate to your desktop folder containing your
screen captures. You may end up with a screen view like this one:
The next step is to select the Photo merge feature
from your File menu
The Adobe program then lists all of the images it will use
to create the photo merge itself
Since the TerraServer provides for a good amount of overlap in your photos, a
good photo editor will not have much trouble finding the "common elements" and
assembling the larger image, after it has done some serious crunching of data.
TIP: the more RAM memory you have on your computer, the faster
this part proceeds
There are some things to note at this stage BEFORE
Ensure that your viewing Setting is set to maximum on the
slide bar so that you can determine if all the pictures have
been placed correctly. Also make sure that the "Snap to
Image" feature has been checked since this allows for faster and
cleaner linking betweeen the pictures.
When you are happy with the results as displayed, press OK.
Once the end result is displayed in the main window, you can use
the Adobe zoom feature to check it out in more detail. A
zoom setting of 200% equates to roughly the same setting inside
Saving your Work
The final steps involve naming and saving your composite
image. Our preference is to name it after the city with some
reference to the industry displayed but the choice is yours.
Adobe allows you to save to several levels of JPEG.
The choice is yours. The larger the file, the more pixels
are retained. However, TrainPlayer works best with files
that are around 3 Mbits in size both for picture quality and
program functionality. Here are some typical setting you may
want to choose.
You’re done. Next step is move your photo
to your TrainPlayer\Layouts folder. Now open your photo as a "new file"
inside TrainPlayer via the "File\Open" menu and to use TrackLayer to place all
the necessary trackage. Also don't forget to go back to your desktop
folder and delete all the images that have been merged, since they are no longer
If you're particularly pleased with any photo composite that
you've created, please send us a copy of your photo and
the related RRW file to support @trainplayer.com and we will
post your work on the Web Layout chooser for all members to
admire and use
Once you have mastered these merging techniques with the
TerraServer, you will want to try the other popular map sites -
Google, Microsoft Live Search, Bing, etc. To make photo
composites using any of these data bases, you will need to
purchase a good "Screen Capture" software. You will also
quickly realize that using these sites is much tougher since
there is no automatic overlap between pictures and controlling
the image size while scrolling around can be a challenge.
But, the end result can be more up-to-date images and even
greater details. Enjoy the challenge!