Photography News Issue 24 absolutephoto.com
Panoramic shooting Broaden your horizons Great panoramic images take enormous skill to produce because you need to think outside of the viewfinder, planning and plotting a sequence of shots that will realise the scene as you imagined it. But get them right and you can make images like no other...
Words by Kingsley Singleton
If you’ve ever looked at a scene through your camera’s viewfinder and wished you could squeeze just a little more of the detail into the frame to make the perfect composition, then panoramic shooting is the answer. Producing a wider than normal frame is easy in the modern era of photography, as specialist cameras and panoramic film are no longer required – you can even do it ‘live’ with a ‘sweep panorama’ function if your digital camera has it, or you can crop regular photos for a more appropriate, wider aspect. But for best results panoramas still need to be created with sensitivity, making sure they work to capture the scene as your mind has composed it, rather than just for the sake of a wider view. And as you’ll find out in this month’s guide, panoramas aren’t limited to the horizontal either. Think outside a single frame and stitched views can give your pictures extra detail and depth, like Kris Williams’ sunset stitch of South Stack in Anglesey (on the right). Here, eight frames were combined for the shot, allowing a better view of the cliff face and lighthouse than a standard wide- angle shot would have allowed. So, this month brush up on your panoramic technique as we break the process down into seven steps, covering everything from better composition and framing to improved shooting and creative ideas. For best results panoramas still need to be created with sensitivity, making sure they work to capture the scene as your mind has composed it...
Howwide should your pano go?
Composition is hugely important in all photography, but becomes evenmore vital and exacting when you’re shooting panoramas. And probably the main stumbling block is that, while panoramas are all about creating a wider than normal view, there is such a thing as too wide. Basically, if you try to take in too much, the scene will lose its heart and its balance, becoming simply a recording of everything in that locationandnot a consideredphotograph. 360º and virtual-reality panoramas are very cool, but for themost part they shouldn’t really
be considered creative photography; they’re unedited views, which are fun, but lack the impact of a proper picture. Like an orchestra with every instrument playing at once, they’re not selective, or edited or controlled – all those things that make a good picture. Therefore, before shooting you still need to decide where the picture begins and ends, just as your viewfinder would normally help you do. Decide this, then compose and count the number of complete frames the scene covers. If your camera has a 3:2 aspect ratio, like most DSLRs, this will ideally be no wider than two
horizontal or four-and-a-half vertical frames – a total aspect ratio of 3:1. If it’s more than that, think about recomposing or the panorama will be uncomfortably compressed into a long and thin shape that causes strain on the viewer’s eye; the opposite of what you ideally want. For proof of this, look to Hollywood where even the very widest films don’t exceed 3:1 – the Ultra Panavision format of 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty comes pretty close at 2.76:1 – and most of the time these days it’s 2.35:1. Follow that and you’ll be onto a wide winner.
Our thanks go out to Brian McCready (brianmccready.com) and Kris Williams (facebook.com/kriswilliamsphotos) for providing their beautiful images and perspectives on panoramic shooting.
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