The Big Picture
I am a big fan of panorama photography, there’s something about a wide panorama view of a landscape or cityscape that speaks to me. Some people notice the small things and will photograph lots of detail that I would never notice. I’m the complete opposite I usually notice the wide angle view, the big picture so to speak and only notice the details if I accidentally step on them. My head is in the clouds. That is of course why I love landscapes and cityscapes, and panoramas were made for this sort of photography. I recently created a new gallery on Pbase of all my panoramas, click on the thumbnail to the right to go to the gallery.
I would call anything wider than about 2:1 a panorama. It doesn’t have to be shot with a panorama camera or stitched to be called a panorama in my mind. I have many panoramas shot at 17 or 24 mm (I use the Canon 5D and it’s full frame, so 17mm is actually 17mm, no crop factor here) and then cropped in post production. Shooting these ‘cropped panos’ I will compose the picture with a panorama in mind knowing that I am going to crop it later.
Sometimes you don’t want a 17mm view though. Sometimes you want a 50mm view but still want a wide panorama. What to do? Stitch it is what to do! Digital photography has made it very easy to shoot impressive panoramas, shoot a lot of single images covering the entire scene and then stitch the shots in pano software like the incredible PTgui. It’s a bit more work but the results can be absolutely mindblowing and rival the shots of medium format pano cameras.
Lately I have really been bitten by the stitching pano bug and here’s a recent example I shot in Copenhagen, shot handheld and stitched in PTgui from 5 shots (original is 8000 pixels wide). Click to see full size and use the scroll bar at the bottom of your screen to see the entire image:
True panorama cameras
Digital stitching is phenomenal and watching software like PTgui stitching aligning and blending is magic but I do often still wish for an actual panorama camera. Sometimes digital stitching is not really possible and it still is quite a bit more work than being able to shoot the scene directly with a panorama camera. It’s hard to bordering on impossible to shoot a good digitally stitched pano in scenes with lots of movement, like waves hitting a beach or cars in traffic. Composing can be tricky as well because you can’t see the end result.
Master landscape photographers like Peter Lik will often use a medium format panorama camera to create images of amazing quality and detail on 6x17cm film. These cameras cost a fortune though and you need a small truck to lug it around with you but who wouldn’t want to own the Linhof Technorama 617 shown on the left!
Hasselblad did a great 35mm pano camera years ago, shown on the right. It uses two 35mm frames to create a pano and if I find a used one at a fair price I am getting this – even better would be if Hasselblad produced a digital X-pan!