5D goes Ski-mountaineering Switzerland (BIG IMG's)

Started Mar 4, 2008 | Discussions thread
OP Evan Effa Veteran Member • Posts: 3,342
Re: On Panos & seeing in a certain fixed format

Zane Paxton wrote:

I have a theory that I started noticing in my own panos. Human
vision is about 160 degrees wide. When we produce a pano that is
also about that same 160 degrees wide, (without the distortion that
you get with super wides), then it can have that strange and
interesting sense "of being there" because it matches how we see the
world. That can add a certain compelling aspect to an image. In
particular, when we are standing there enjoying a vast spectacular
view that stretches enough for us to turn our heads to take it all
in, then a wide pano starts to recreate that same sense. A
sub-theory is that the effect starts to diminish as a pano gets much
wider than those 160 degrees.

You often make observations that make me stop & think... this is one of them. I'll have to play with this a bit & see whether that is borne out by a few tests. The 15 mm Fisheye gives me about 180degrees but with that rapidly receding background. The next time I shoot a pano, I'll be thinking of your 160 degree theory.

Now that I've started to recognize this aspect of perception, I see
many images of grand vistas that drive me nuts; it's like I want to
stick my head into the image as if it were a window so that I can see
more of it! Purely from an artistic standpoint, how can one recreate
and express a grand vista? Capturing just a small section of it just
doesn't always work as an interpretation.

Again, one may come across scenes in real life that are stunning vista but the attempt to capture a landscape image with an ultra-wide lens will often be very disappointing. The pano shot on the other hand seems to convey that more dramatic verisimilitude or sense of being there.

Another observation is how we can become complacent about the tools
we use and start to accept them as limitations. Indeed, many would
argue that this is just good discipline. For many this is a comfort;
something that we know innately from long use and don't think about
it much anymore. But then there is that nagging artistic possibility
to start to get at a way to create a richer and more compelling
expression that a 160 degree wide pano can afford in certain

As an example, there is a fabulous photographer on Pbase that is
enormously talented and a real artist. He shoots the Scottish
landscape with a MF 6x7 that produces awe inspiring images. Make no
mistake he is vastly talented and his images are just gorgeous. But
he never does panos of the grand vistas. I suspect that the
limitations of film and massive scanned images don't lend themselves
to those techniques. So he "sees" the world in a 6x7 format. Not
good or bad per se, but it can be limiting. There is then an
interesting relationship between art and craft.

I have a buddy that has a stash of mats for his images that are all
the same size. Edward Weston would masterfully compose to the very
edge of the 8x10 view camera's edge of focusing glass. With
discipline and practice, one can "see" the world in a fixed format,
or in B&W, etc. But are there richer possibilities that every
situation might have its own best format? That in the digital age we
are released from the old restraints to embrace new possibilities?

I suspect most of us 3:2 format photographers also have a prejudice in seeing things in this format as well. Every time you look through the VF you have to make yourself consider other formats or aspect ratios... our ability to play with differing crops in post probably salvages the situation for us sometimes. Nevertheless, I often have a fleeting sense of guilt if I crop free-hand thinking "oh no, this won't fit a standard matte." If one is in the field & thinking outside the 3:2, I wonder how that would alter our composition?

Thanks Zane.


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5D, ex-D200, S2

I do know how to spell. I'm just a lousy Tipyst!


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