The modern mobile phone puts an arsenal of photographic tools at our disposal. One of the strangest and most difficult to master is the panorama… yet the results can be wonderful.

(550 words. A four minute read)

(Above: a single shot encompasses the edge of the forest – curving right up to the viewer; the bank of the river; and the churning water, below. The whole allows the textures and curves to be incorporated into a composite which would have been impossible with a normal shot)

The panorama is not a gimmick. It’s a wide-angled shot in which the correct proportions are retained, rather than the treatment of a ‘fish-eye’ lens, where the extremes are increasingly compressed as you approach the edge of the image. We can look on it as a short piece of video, panning left to right, where all the shot is retained and formed into a wider picture.

(Above: Puffin Island, Anglesey. Taken a few years ago, on a freezing December day, this shows the potential of the winter panorama, but also the limitation of displaying it! Imagine it as as wide landscape across one wall of a room or gallery and you get a better idea)

There are many difficulties; chief of which is how hard it is to stay level and steady as you pan across the shot. Ideally, we would have an electronic, rotating tripod in our pockets! With practice, and by carefully following the indicated line in the viewfinder, we can get a degree of stability into our photos. Also, modern phones allow a faster sideways movement than their predecessors, as they need less light to function well.

(Above: Winchester Cathedral, photographed in 2018)

Panoramas are great at capturing the grandeur of large or historic buildings, as with the shot of Winchester Cathedral, above.

One of the little-known wonders of panoramas is that they can be taken vertically!

The above shot illustrates the usefulness of this. It was taken on a preparatory visit to Whitby, in 2018. I needed a long, thin vertical image for the sidebar of a pocket brochure for the Silent Eye’s Whitby weekend, in December of that year.

As I focussed on the ruins of the Abbey, I realised that the whole sky was covered by a single, dramatic cloud leading to the sun. But this was only available by scanning the camera vertically.

(Above: the finished pocket handout)

The closing images, below, are what I call ‘sky-shots’. Some of my favourite photos have been taken this way.

There’s nothing better than the successful capture of a huge, bright sky. The trick is to hold the arms out, level with the ground and then rotate the shoulders upward, in tandem, finishing overhead with the back arched. It’s a bit like yoga and takes a bit of practice, but the results are unlike any other type of shot you will take.

(Above and below: you wouldn’t know it, but half the sky has been captured in each of these)

The key is to have a go… After a while you become your own best teacher. If it feels good to you, it is good!

©Stephen Tanham, 2021.

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, A journey through the forest of personality to the sunrise of Being.

11 Comments on “Winter walks with Camera (7) : panorama

  1. Wow, I’ve never thought of a vertical panorama – but I do love big sky images, so what a great idea! Might have to give this a try – thanks, Steve 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Winter walks with Camera (7) : panorama ~ Steve Tanham | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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