To follow on from my recent post about panoramic photography I mentioned using the panoramic format in a portrait or vertical orientation, well as promised here are a couple of examples.
The photo above was taken in Whitby just last weekend, it was cloudy grey morning which was slightly annoying given that I left home at 4am to get there for sunrise. However not put off by the weather I used the soft lighting conditions to focus more textures and shapes, I felt the vertical panoramic format worked pretty well for this shot. I used the old wooden planks on the pier to add texture and to guide the eye towards the horizon right at the top of the frame.
When looking for suitable subjects for vertical panoramic photos you need to consider shots that have depth and interest throughout the frame. You want to control the viewers eye so they move either up or down through the photo. The lines of the pier in the photo above do just that, they guide the eye from the bottom to the top of the frame also the gentle curve helps move the eye left to right too.
Another method to control the viewers eye is to use selective focus techniques as in the photo above taken in the flower meadows in the Yorkshire Dales. By using a wide aperture such as f4 I was able to keep the barn in focus and allow the flowers to gradually become more blurred, creating a pleasing softness to the shot. The viewers eye is initially caught by the bright colours of the flowers in the foreground and then moves through the scene until they reach the sharply focused barn. The human eye naturally moves from soft to sharp areas of the picture.
Well there you go a couple of examples and my thoughts about why I took them the way I did, I hope you find this useful. My closing thoughts on vertical panoramic photography is to look for subjects that allow the viewers eye to travel from the bottom of the frame to the top whether by using lead in lines of focusing and also make sure the photo has detail through out the frame.
Panoramic photography is one of those things I have had a bit of a love and hate relationship with over the years, I think panoramic photography is much trickier than the majority of people realise. In this post I will run through some of my panoramic photos and why they work and what to look for when taking panoramic photos.
But first of all lets qualify what a panoramic photo is – in a nutshell a panoramic photo is letter box shaped and is considerably wider than it is tall. While the exact proportions could be anything you desire the minimum ratio for a panoramic photo is 2×1 or twice as wide as its height. The second recommended ratio is 3×1 or three times as wide as it is tall, this has a very different appearance from the 2×1 panoramic and looks more like a letterbox.
A panoramic photo doesn’t just have to be in the landscape format, you can shoot vertical or portrait format panoramics although finding subject matter can be a little trickier, I will cover this in a future post.
While it is possible to crop your photo down to these ratios and with digital capture you have no other option (without very specialist equipment) there are some dedicated panoramic cameras out there. Most of these are medium format and use 120 film, the most common sizes are 6x12cm sticking to the 2×1 ratio and 6x17cm which is almost 3×1. Dedicated medium panoramic cameras are quite expensive but if you are interested in one take a look at the offerings from Fuji and Horseman. It is also possible to stitch multiple images together to create a large panoramic image, I will be covering this in a future post.
The photo above was taken in Whitby one evening with a ultra wide angle lens on a digital SLR, there was nothing really of interest I could have included in the foreground of the shot and likewise the sky didn’t contain much detail further above so the standard 3×2 35mm proportions made the shot look a little bit empty with everything compressed into the middle of the frame. However the 2×1 crop balanced the image created a more appealing composition.
The photo above of Rannoch Moor was taken with a 5×4 large format view camera with a 12x6cm roll film back, this is a slightly complex setup if you are not familiar with view cameras however just consider it a camera that produces a 12x6cm negative on 120 roll film – no digital technology here. I chose to use the panoramic format here much for the same reasons as above that the main interest in the scene was compressed into the middle of the frame. By removing the cluttered foreground and the bland sky I was able to concentrate on the part of the scene that really interested me.
Another use for the panoramic format is to create abstract photos such as the example below shot in the Yorkshire Dales…
This time I used a 3×1 ratio cropped from a digital SLR capture, there were a couple of elements in the scene that caught my interest the first was the barn on the right hand side that was almost angled towards the barn on the left side in the distance. I setup a composition that included details in the closest barn and led the eye into the distance through the fields to the other barn. As with the other examples above I was not interested in the foreground or the sky so used the panoramic format to capture just the part of the scene I wanted.
At the start of this post I mentioned I have had a bit of a love hate relationship with panoramic format and just thought I would expand a little on this, I have made some successful panoramic photos like the examples above but have had many failures too. Finding the correct subject can be tricky as you don’t want it to look like you have chopped the scene in half, successful panoramic photography can take time but is worth the effort.