What Is Panoramic Photography, and how do I do it ?
Panoramic landscape photography for me is the holy grail of photography and the ultimate way to capture a scene, as it is very difficult to fill a 3:1 or 4:1 panoramic image with interesting subject matter because of the sheer scale of the field of view you can capture in a panorama. As such not every scene lends its self to the panoramic format.
Panoramic photography can be defined as any photo that is wider than a 6:4 ratio. Traditionally a panoramic photo is either a 2:1 or a 3:1 ratio format. Until recently fine art landscape photography has been dominated by the medium format panoramic film cameras like the linhof 617 or the fuji film GX617 and the medium and large format film cameras used by the likes of Ansel Adams one of the pioneers of landscape photography and an inspiration of mine. Thanks to advancements in silicon sensor’s, digital cameras and technology in general, that gap has been closed to a slither. What modern digital cameras (DSLR’s) can capture in the form of dynamic range (the range a camera’s sensor is able to capture detail between the shadows and highlights) now far surpasses anything on offer in the wold of film.
For me the ultimate challenge and greatest reward in photography is to capture a beautiful big high-resolution stitched panorama or panoramic image. This technique allows me to capture incredibly detailed panoramic images in excess of 100 megapixels. To do this you will need what is called a panoramic tri-pod head, a solid tri-pod and some image stitching software to merge the photos together. I create the photo by taking a series of portrait shots usually 5-6 and merge them together with photoshop’s panorama stitching software. For all your shots to line up you will need to make sure you have your panoramic tri-pod head perfectly level and have your camera set up so the nodal point (the front of the camera positioned over the center column of the trip-pod. This will eliminate what is called parallax which is the displacement or difference in the apparent position between your photos.
Below are examples of different Panoramic ratio formats and a standard 6:4 frame for comparison.