Photography News Issue 24 absolutephoto.com
Composing for thewider view
What you really don’t want is for the viewer’s eye to be bouncing from subject to subject and failing to settle…
Imagining a wider than normal frame, it’s obvious that compositional methods like foreground interest and lead-in lines need to be used differently; a shallow, long frame is not going to function in the same way as one that’s a lot closer to square, because there simply isn’t room for masses of foreground detail. But that’s not a bad thing as the elongation means that panoramas can often function without much foreground at all (and it’s actually a benefit when it comes to controlling ‘parallax errors’, see page 30). So long as you create a balanced composition that will lead the eye in to settle on the distant view or a strong subject then you’ll have no problems. With the broader angle of view you’re taking in, also be careful that there’s not too much going on in the frame, because just
like a regular scene, you don’t want various elements fighting for attention; in fact, you’re more at risk of this in a panorama than elsewhere. A wider frame isn’t an excuse to ram everything you can into it and what you really don’t want is for the viewer’s eye to be bouncing from subject to subject and failing to settle; if the eye works too hard in this way it gets tired and the picture isn’t pleasant to look at. Conversely, sometimes the panoramic format actually makes more sense of a scene; its alternative shape being a natural way of simplifying a view. The eye also likes symmetry, so there’s nothing to stop you from placing subjects centrally in a wider view if that makes visual sense; a lone tree or solitary lighthouse placed in the middle of a wider frame will accentuate them as singletons.
Below Although the regular digital route of creating a panoramic image is to shoot a sequence of separate frames and stitch them together in software, there are now a raft of modern cameras that let you accomplish the whole process without going anywhere near a computer. When placed in their panorama mode, these work by capturing the wider scene ‘live’ as you turn through it, producing a single file with panoramic dimensions. The shot belowwas taken on a Leica Q, which produced a 4592x1920 file straight out of the camera, but while the technique of shooting itself is different, the fundamentals of composition remain the same. Although panoramas are less reliant on such devices than regular frames, try to include foreground interest, or a lead-in line, as seen here at the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial.
Filling the frames Wide views don’t always need the same level of foreground interest as you’d find in regularly framed landscapes, but images still need a good flow. In Brian McCready’s shot of Brandy Pad in the Mourne Mountains, above, the view naturally sweeps down from the mountains and hills towards the water creating a simple and elegant composition.
Above This panoramic image of the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye, was created from three horizontal shots; if you shoot vertically you’ll require more frames to cover the width of the scene. Stitched in Lightroom, the latest version allows you to stitch Raw files into a panorama that’s still in a Raw format, so you can easily make exposure and colour changes.
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