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Creating Pan Pictures
Sample Pan Pictures
Creating Effective Pan Pictures
By Steve Robson
When I started picture taking seriously in the early 1980’s, one of the picture taking methods I liked was the panoramic scenes. After years of picture taking, I have tried a number of methods to get this affect. I will be looking at how I started out doing this and how I do this in now.
In the early 1980’s, I started using 35mm cameras due to their great flexibly. However I still had my dad’s old Kodak 620 format camera. I used this simple camera to help create my first pan picture. I used all 12 exposures to get the base for the picture shown. I used the cameras B setting gets the long exposures needed. The challenge with this camera was that it lacked threaded cable release so keeping camera steady was difficult. I think I had to give 4 to 10 second exposures per frame. Since the frames are square, it took the number of frames taken needed to create the overlaps needed completed image. Once the film was processed, I took the prints and started the line them up. The method used is very much like what the Canon Stitch program uses. It lines up the matching overlapping sections create the extended pan picture. The main difference is that in the computer does a nicer job in merging the separated images together. Since the computer images can be reproduced far more easily then printed pictures (and or far less money!!), creating pan pictures are easy now. It was great to do his project old school was a good learning tool for what was to come.
It was some time before I looked at doing anything related pan pictures but I returned to this type of picture taking. In the late 1990’s, I found out about two different camera types that allowed pan-like pictures. One was the disposable design camera type. Rather than extending the 35mm frame, a narrower frame section is used to create wider picture look. It started my renewed interest pan picture taking. I took a picture with a disposable pan camera that started a 10 and a half year project show casing the changes that in one location over that time frame. This project made use of a number of different camera design types to create the various images. The other camera I bought was a Fuji point and shoot 35mm film that allowed both full and pan picture types. Between these two camera designs, it set the stage for creating pan pictures in the digital era.
In 2008, I saw that Fuji came out with a digital camera that allowed in-camera pan pictures. Unlike the older 35mm cameras I used in the past, the new digital camera created true pan picture. It joints three separate pictures to create the pan image. It creates about the same effect created by older pan cameras that used a rotating lens take an extended range image. The main difference with the digital camera is that the three separate are stitched together in camera rather than having one single frame in an older film based pan camera. This pan feature found on the 2008 upper end now is found in the entire camera line. It is now easier to use with an auto setting that allows the user to just pan the camera left or right and the camera does the rest. The earlier models the user had to manually line up overlapped images to create the pictures. I find that the manual mode is a bit better for more controlled results. Small errors can take place with the automatic mode.
This is not the only mode to create a pan picture. Any type of camera can be used create a pan picture. Many companies have computer programs that stitch multiple images together to create the wide pan effect. I have been using Canons Stitch program. It is version 3.1. There are other programs as well. They all do the same function of joining separate panned pictures into a single pan image. Using this option creates whatever length of picture you what to create. Special care has to be taken when taking the base images to start used for pan pictures. All the exposures need to be the same so it is best to use manual control on the camera. Simple point and shoot camera types can be used but the differences in exposure same create an image uneven lighting pattern. Computer programs can be used help even out the differences in exposures before being put into a stitch program. As with the method used in my first manual try of joining images together, there must be some overlap so that the computer can stitch the common overlaying areas into on common image.
There some details have to be watched to help avoid distorted pictures. Try to avoid angling the camera up or down too far. It can result in mismatched join points where lines create distorted angles. There can be cases where objects too close to the front of the lens will not line up properly or not appear at all in a frame where it should be seen. Some lines of objects like building’s roof tops or power lines may not line just right. Objects could overlap or repeat themselves due to being too close to the lens when compared to distant objects. At this point some photo retouch is needed correct these faults.
Most of the time one tends to think of pan pictures as set in a horizontal position but there are subjects can be in a vertical position as well. There are no real rules as to what or what not camera position can be used. Whatever you think will give you the best results can be looked at. They can range from a simple mult-frame image to get the full view of a car side view (simple two frame exposure) to a complex 360 degree HDR landscape (12 exposures with each frame needing 3 frames for under/ normal/ over exposures, 36 total exposures). I have not tried doing the later although it would work well with a grand liking city or landscape setting. The use of a manual control camera would be the best for this complex type of picture. The end result would be stunning to look at.
Give pan pictures a try. It expands you outlook on your picture taking look. Given the options that one can use today, it is easier than ever create a great looking pan picture. One can do a nice project doing around pan pictures.