Superka | Photo Techniques | Published Oct 6, 2011
Panoramas for many associate with grandeur, monumental scenery. I will try to show that the panoramic format suites for almost any subject.
My interest to a photography has appeared once, almost instantly. It has occurred when I have got acquainted with panoramas of Gary Irving. At that time I worked in computer graphics studio and have found his photos among cliparts. I have learned a name of the author much later — and then I simply admired his photos almost every day. In his photos I liked an unusual composition and simple subjects,familiar to everyone views to which the author has paid attention.
What can we note when looking at his panoramic pictures?
1. The 1:3 format looks rather interesting and attractively itself.
2. The extended composition allows to include in a shot a lot of foreground such as trees, branches, etc., but without sacrificing a middle and distant plans. What would block our view in traditional 3:2 or a square format — here doesn't create problems, and on the contrary allows to accentuate multiple dimensions.
3. The images has a rectangular projection and as consequence — the presence of perspective in wide-angle pictures. That central perspective about which we know from school — when parallel straight lines converge in one point and straight lines remain straight lines on the image. I will remind that we get rectangular projection when shooting by the fixed lens on the flat carrier (a film, or sensor) and we get cylindrical projection when shooting by a rotating lens on the bent film or after stitching several pictures.
One may think that perspective presence doesn't matter for a landscape photography (because straight lines aren't present) — but it not true. The matter is that the rectangular projection at wide-angle shots creates a characteristic stretching at edges of pictures which as the invisible guidelines direct our look to the picture center. The difference between a rectangular projection and cylindrical on the nature picture is visible here:
Usually, it is good to look on pictures with a rectangular projection entirely (as we get used), and at pictures with cylindrical — to examine by parts, otherwise they look unnaturally (of course this may be desirable sometime). Cylindrical projection is lack a perspective and our mind cannot lock-on right to the image space.
4. What I have noted in points 2 and 3, together create unusual sensation of scale of a picture and as consequence — the effect of presence that allows to reproduce a mood of a place. No other format can compare with a panorama in this aspect.
Pictures of Gary Irving had a huge influence on me, so that, it is possible to say, I became his follower.
The panoramic format appears very natural to human eyes. Our peripheral vision is developed well enough, it play a significant role in our life, and the inclusion of considerable space on each side of the picture positively affects the perception. The basic object of shooting can be in the middle of the picture (or 2/3), and peripheral parts of a panorama allow to see object in the environment, but without drawing our attention.
Here are some examples: 1 2
Expecting the questions about possibility to replace such panoramas by stitching several digital pictures, and I will tell my opinion. I consider that it is almost impossible for some reasons:
- When shooting several shots the photographer initially scans the view so, that his camera circumscribes the cylinder. Let's assume that the photographer creates 3 pictures trying to cover the same angle as at the panoramic camera. In comparison with such panoramic pictures made at once — too much vertical space is located in side pictures. While digital stitching the program will give the possibility to regenerate the rectangular projection, but only by the cost of losses of the information. I want to note that I'm not the opponent of cylindrical (and spherical) panoramas, and they are for my liking.
- At shooting of several shots for future stitching, the photographer initially is very limited in a subject choice — he doesn't have convenient viewfinder which allows to build a composition precisely at once.
- There are problems with moving objects. The panoramic camera allows to make pictures with long exposure when the world appearance changes: the clouds are extended (motion blurs) to a lines creating movement in a picture and coastal water turns to a fog. If to do several pictures with long exposure it will not be possible to sew them — clouds will be in different places, and the light illumination on each picture will be different.
In the conclusion I would like to show some remarkable examples of application of a panoramic format in street photography, when the combination of a wide format and the film colors creates an impression of the cinema frames: 1 2
I'm sure that the panoramic format will be more and more popular and, maybe we will see digital panoramic camera in the future!