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mark
07-16-2008, 11:51 PM
I have just purchased a sinar Zoom 2 from a nice fellow ape hugger. Not having had a chance to get out and use it I have been doing some navel gazing. Having dropped a forklift fork on my foot Saturday I am not walking around a lot either, which is a good thing, because like gum chewing one should not navel gaze and walk at the same time.

For this discussion panoramic is at least a 2:1 aspect ratio.

I remember reading somewhere that a panoramic image must have a beginning middle and an end. Because of their long nature the viewer "reads" them left to right for horizontal images, and top to bottom for the vertical.

I can see the point but I think weight and balance dictate the viewers viewing of the image. Due to it's skinny nature there needs to be a greater emphasis on these things. The more successful images I have seen take balance and weight into consideration, and are a success as a whole instead of "read".

What do you think?

keithwms
07-17-2008, 12:36 AM
One big challenge that pano shares with wide-angle work in general is to build in a sense of visual depth. Unless the shot is thoughtfully composed, wide lenses have a tendency to flatten a scene out... even if it is a dramatic mountain range. Of course, a pano doesn't have to be shot with a wide lens, but that is the norm.

Overall, I have noticed that the panos that I find interesting usually have pronounced foreground and background subjects. This approach can provide useful scale cues and also prevent a scene from looking flat parallel to the lens plane and along the vertical.

Ian Grant
07-17-2008, 05:50 AM
You make a point Keith, but I think one of the problems is many people use relatively long lenses for Panoramic shoots which of course flattens out the scenes far more than a wide-angle.

I deliberately bought a 75mm SA to use with my 617, I had also intended to use a 90mm but found I never used it. My rationale for the 75mm was that it was close to a normal lens for a 6x6 and therefore the vertical dimension of the 6x17 format while wide angle for the width. In practice for my requirements it seems a perfect balance for the format.

http://www.apug.org/gallery/data/500/botallack01.jpg

http://www.apug.org/gallery/data/500/machu_piccu01.jpg

Ian

doughowk
07-17-2008, 06:26 AM
One of the more useful rules of composition especially for panoramas is the concept of the Golden Section with its approximate ratio of 8:5. It is probably applicable to the initial view with the subject, if any, at that point. But panoramas invite the viewer to look for detail when viewed up close. If the image is that of a landscape, then a wide-angle lens should enable good detail front to back.

keithwms
07-17-2008, 10:24 AM
But Ian, your examples neatly (and gorgeously!) illustrate my point- you have big foreground elements there and the compositions carefully use elements that tie foreground to background to build in a compositional sense of depth. Perhaps we can agree that this is something that must be done regardless of focal length / FOV to communicate a feeling of depth.

Consider what you sometimes see in panos: mountains or seascapes with no foreground. Then there is a tendency for the long horizontal to dominate and there is little to draw the eye in and experience the depth of the scene. And if you try to put a foreground element in there and are shooting a wide lens, that foreground element can become so enormous in the frame relative to whatever is out at infinity. Even the largest mountains or big thunderclouds or big sunsets can be diminished to a long thin line in the pano frame by an ultrawide lens. Then if you have a daisy in the foreground... what is the shot really about?

When I went out west I thought I'd get a lot of use out of my wides, so that is primarily what I packed. There is the tendency to see a scene and the whole atmosphere is so gorgeous and unique that you (or I) want to capture the whole thing on one sheet of film. But of course it doesn't work that way. The lenses I used most out west turned out to be (usually) the longest I'd packed.

When you say longer lenses flatten things out, I think you are referring to 'compression' of foreground against background. To me, that is not flattening at all, that is juxtaposition, and depth can be built into a scene if its composed properly. In the shots you posted, I see some care expended to preserve depth, i.e. not to incorporate so much foreground as to blockade the main subjects.

I think another possible point here, and one seldom used in pano, is limited DOF. If the foreground and background are in equally tight focus then I would argue that a sense of depth and scale can be lost. Not always but there is a tendency to go for front to back sharpness that may not necessarily be the right approach. I suppose that with ultrawides this is is a stronger tendency.

I need to go back to Macchu Pichu, I only visited once when I was 7. I hope there isn't a McDonald's there now.

Jim Noel
07-17-2008, 11:00 AM
I think that too often pano photographers look for the wide open expanse, rather than what is nearer them. I believe that since I have begun looking for images containing an important object very close, 10 feet or so, to the lens my images are stronger. On a recent trip with the 717 every strong image I returned with contained such an object, and the middle grounds and backgrounds seemed to become more important and tied together in a stronger manner.
I generally use a 12" on the 717. About one in twenty images are made with a 15" or 19". The wider lens just pleases me more.

Ian Grant
07-17-2008, 11:12 AM
Yes but Keith what is wide or even ultra wide, assuming 120 & the 6x17 format I'd guess the widest lens that would cover the format is probably a 58mm SA and to me that's not particularly wide in respect to the vertical dimension.

The flattening is really more about the distance and perspective rather than the choice of lens, I have a tendency to go in close which of course alters the perspective and apparent depth. Jim Noel is saying much the same

Ian

keithwms
07-17-2008, 01:18 PM
Well, 58 on 4x5 or 617 is pretty freaking wide already. It would be a real challenge to take a landscape with that and not have a greatly diminished sense of vertical scale. I am not saying it can't be done, I am saying that one has to really pay attention to how foreground and background elements interact, and vanishing-point issues can be so prominent as to dominate the whole composition. I think I am agree with Jim's point that "wide open expanse" can be alluring to the photographer but not necessarily effective in the photograph.

Anyway, let's set focal length / FOV aside for a minute and see if we agree that with pano images a major challenge is to build front-to-back depth. The aspect ratio tends to emphasize horizontal compression. (assuming we're talking about landscape-orientation for now) I am merely asserting that this is a bigger challenge (for me) than figuring out what to put where in the frame...

Of course, there are vertical panos too, which can be gorgeous. I am remembering some of Geir Jordahl's photographs in his recent book.

By the way a pretty interesting gallery of panos may be found on the fotoman site (http://www.fotomancamera.com/gallery.asp). It was while perusing those that I started to think a bit more about what makes a pano effective and deciding whether I can do it.

Ian Grant
07-17-2008, 02:27 PM
I suppose I don't actually see such a big difference composing with the 6x17 and the 75mm lens compared to say a 2¼ square Rollei with a similar focal length lens, the perspective is the same, so is the balance between foreground & background, only the horizontal angle of view changes very significantly. (Assuming landscape format).

There's a good reason for this, for many years I've often been frustrated by the 5x4 format for very wide views, far too much irrelevant foreground and sky. I have shot and deliberately cropped on a small number of occasions but I get no satisfaction working that way because I always compose tightly to the format. So when I bought a 6x17 camera it was from an informed knowledge of the type of images I would use it for.

Having had a look at your Portfolio, and a little of your website, I can see where you are coming from a bit better, and we approach the landscape in different ways. I use wide angles for 5x4 work quite frequently, particularly a 90mm, and when needed a 65mm, in fact in 20+ years I only shot with longer than a 150mm twice - a 300mm but I never used the images, although more recently I've begun using a 210 bought of one of the Mods.

So back to composing Panoramic images I guess I initially position myself for the vertical, then adjust my position to accommodates the horizontal, if that makes sense. Working with only one lens that means I should walk in or out, but I seem to be able to walk to the right spot subconsciously.

Ian

David A. Goldfarb
07-17-2008, 02:41 PM
I love Art Sinsabaugh's panoramas. His camera was 12x20", but he would crop to whatever dimensions suited the image, even if it was 2.25x19"--

http://www.indiana.edu/~iuam/online_modules/sinsabaugh/p_cl122.html

Vincent Brady
07-17-2008, 03:00 PM
I use an XPAN + 45mm lens and I find like Keith my best shots are ones that I build from front to back and include something in the middle ground. A total change to that method seems to be the work of "EarlyRiser" who makes the entire foreground interesting. The sea assumes a different characteristic by a long timed exposure. My XPAN has changed my approach to photography and I enjoy reading and seeing other people's approach to pano.

Cheers
Vincent

jp80874
07-17-2008, 04:04 PM
Mark,

Sorry to read of your accident. Hope the damage heals quickly and you get to work with your new wide view soon. Just to stir the pot I would suggest a different approach. Something in the way you see motivated you to buy this attachment. I felt that way after seeing Lois Conner talk show her work using a 7x17 in China. I would encourage you to give that motivation complete freedom and discover what results. You can always make adjustments later.

A starting method often suggested is to take a piece of 8x10 cardboard and cut a hole in the middle the exact ratio of your gear. In my case that is 7x17 or a ratio of 2.43. I would then look around at the subjects you like and see what fills that hole. This is just to start giving you the feel of the camera’s view. You will probably discard the tool as you get the feel of the composition.

Michael Mutmansky and I spend a half day shooting an abandoned greenhouse with his 7x17. I asked him to proceed as he would but to say out loud what was going through his mind. As with Jim Noel, his most used lens was 300mm. A normal lens would be 466mm or so. He also said that when composing be sure that there is something interesting out to each edge.

I am working on a 100 image submission for a book on the OH & Erie canal. The locks are very panoramic, 90 feet long and 15 feet across. At about 60 images my most commonly used lenses have been the 300mm and the 600mm for close detail on the opposite wall of the lock. There are four samples in my gallery.

Enjoy whatever works for you. Frankly I think I would much more enjoy RobertP’s 8x20 nudes using the vertical orientation than my canal locks.

John Powers

mark
07-18-2008, 09:24 PM
Consider what you sometimes see in panos: mountains or seascapes with no foreground. Then there is a tendency for the long horizontal to dominate and there is little to draw the eye in and experience the depth of the scene. And if you try to put a foreground element in there and are shooting a wide lens, that foreground element can become so enormous in the frame relative to whatever is out at infinity. Even the largest mountains or big thunderclouds or big sunsets can be diminished to a long thin line in the pano frame by an ultrawide lens. Then if you have a daisy in the foreground... what is the shot really about?

.


This is exactly my problem with most wide images. The forground becomes a distraction. Haveing been bouncing around the net looking at pano images, there seems to be two solid camps. Thise with the wide angle, bg ass forground, and the no forground. Sure, there are those outside these two boxes but most fall here. There area lot of pictures emphasizing symetry (sp).



John, I don't plan on falling into any formula and always shoot what I like. Composing for the long and skinny image is new and I was wondering what others thought. Thanks for the sentiment about my foot. It was a stupid thing to do. I am up and around, it just hurts. I will be playing with the format a lot.

2F/2F
07-18-2008, 10:01 PM
For some reason there aren't many panoramic photos that I really like...but there are several antique panoramic paintings that I do! Maybe that is a sign that I should try to make panoramic shots more abstract. High contrast techniques, alternative processes, etc.

What I have discovered it that I prefer to section up a panorama, myself. I have built several cycloramas. I really love the feeling of being inside the 360 image, *and* having vertical lines break the view every now and then. Of course, with digital stitching nowadays, there need only be one seam. I want to try that next....

But, getting back to panoramic composition. I think the ones that work best just break the composition down into its basic graphic elements and emphasize these above all else. I don't get wowed by detail in a panorama so much as the drama of it and the basic design elements within. The appreciation of the detail comes later, after the line, shape, and value have already drawn me in.

keithwms
07-18-2008, 10:07 PM
2F/2F this might interest you, I have fitted a kaidan 360 to various medium format cameras. The digitally dewarped image is a stitchless 360. I'll attach a goofy test shot from my apartment.

Lest anyone object, I admit that the dewarping is digital, but... the shooting is to film.

How do you compose with this thing? Well I'm working on it...

Alex Hawley
07-18-2008, 11:06 PM
I love Art Sinsabaugh's panoramas. His camera was 12x20", but he would crop to whatever dimensions suited the image, even if it was 2.25x19"--

http://www.indiana.edu/~iuam/online_modules/sinsabaugh/p_cl122.html

David, thanks for the link. I was not aware of Sinsabaugh before. My kind of stuff!

I've been learning panoramic for a year now. Its different and takes a change in the vision.

2F/2F
07-21-2008, 11:34 PM
Very interesting, Keith! Keep it up...show us more.