With the emergence of digital photography, the process of taking several pictures of the same subject and stitching them together to create a panoramic photograph has become all too common.
Panorama, as a concept, was popularized in 1787 by Robert Barker, and soon we had entire buildings undergoing construction to house 360° panoramas with moving elements and lighting effects. In the nineteenth century, Joseph Puchberger submitted the first-ever recorded patent for a camera that specialized in panoramas with an 8-inch focal length and a 150° field of view. In the subsequent years, the panoramic cameras went through a bunch of improvements and finally, with the advent of digital stitching for segmented panoramas, we now have high-resolution panoramas.
Let's take a look at some of the best panoramic photographs that have been taken in the last decade and learn more about the people behind them:
Good Morning Damian Shan by Jesus M. Garcia:
Stitched together from 7 different vertical images, Garcia's panoramic picture of the Li River in China's Guangxi Province was taken at sunrise and was an Open Award Winner in the category - 'Nature / Landscape' in 2017 Epson International Pano Awards. The Spanish photographer's gear usually consists of 4 cameras, including the Sony a7Riii, Sony a7iii, Sony 16-35GM f/2.8 and Sony 24-105 f/4.
2. Eye of Stokksnes by Wojciech Kruczynski:
Winner of the Carolyn Mitchum Award, Kruczynski's panorama captures the unparalleled beauty of the famous Aurora reflections on the Stokksnes Black Beach in Iceland surrounding the Vestrahorn mountains. It was probably the most beautiful night in my life," she told 1x in an interview about her experience, "I was circulating around this place a few days, waiting for the ideal weather conditions. It was necessary to synchronize several things at the same time, including appropriate tides. I knew exactly what effect I wanted to achieve, but the reality exceeded my expectations. "
Kruczynski's uses Sony A7r and Sony FE 16 with a 35 mm f/4 Zeiss for her landscape panoramic photography and Photoshop CS6 + Camera Raw for processing her images.
3. Obama's Inauguration by David Bergman:
Stitched from 220 different images, Bergman shot this panoramic image during the inaugural address of President Obama, from the "north press platform" at U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on January 2009. With over 30 million views from by people across 210 countries, the final image is a whopping 1,474 megapixels (59,783 X 24,658) with a horizontal overlap of 34.5 to 52.7% and a vertical overlap of 32.6 to 39.2%. Bergman used a Canon PowerShot G10 with a f/5.6 aperture, 0.004 exposure time, 200 ISO, and 142.3 mm focal length. The camera was balanced on a GigaPan robotic camera mount, powered by AA batteries.
Capturing two million people in a single frame, the picture is 314 times powerful than an average 5-megapixel shot, as you can easily zoom in to see remarkably clear details (sans blurring) even during an extreme close-up. For example, you can easily spot snipers on faraway rooftops, all the living former U.S. Presidents and well-known cellist Yo-Yo Ma using his iPhone to snap a picture. Have a look for yourself.
"I always try to make unique images using technology and by simply seeing things a bit differently," Bergman wrote on his blog, "When I got the assignment to photograph President Obama's 2009 inauguration, I knew I had to come up with something that would live up to the magnitude of this historical event."
4. Mt. Everest by David Breashears:
As a climate-change campaigner and filmmaker, Breashears, who has conquered the summit 4 times, spent an entire spring taking 400 pictures of the Mt. Everest using a 300mm lens from a vantage point at one of the base camps. The breath-taking panoramic photograph is 3.8 billion-pixel and interactive, which means that you can literally zoom in to spot basecamp tents, climbers descending the summit and the mountain's icefall.
As the founder of GlacierWorks, that was launched to document the noticeable changes in the ice over a period of time, Breashears wants to use his pictures as an educational tool for climate change activism and advocacy. "The real struggle is that we're trying to show something that's happening in extreme slow motion," he explains in an NPR interview, "[When] you're looking at glaciers, you can sit there and stare at them for a long time and nothing happens. They don't talk to you; their stories are ones that you understand through science."
"I find things I've never noticed before, especially on how climate change is affecting the mountain," he told The Guardian referencing the Mt. Everest Panorama.
5. Paris by Arnaud Frich:
Stitched together from 2,346 single photos, Frich's high-resolution panoramic photograph of the French Capital was created using two 2 Canon 5D Mark II (21.1 MP) cameras with 300 mm f4.0 using a teleconverter to get an exposure of 600mm/f8.0. Taken in September 2009, the final image (354,159 x 75,570 pixels) was recognized as the largest panorama in the world at the time.
"I believe that in panoramic photography, the quality of the light, the harmony of colours or greyscales is even more important," Frich explains, "Very often, a novice panoramic photographer, seduced by the panorama in front of him, forgets that, for instance, the sun will be far too small on his final picture! If you want the photographed elements to be big enough on the panorama, you need to get closer or use a longer focal."
Apart from being visually appealing, one of the best things about shooting and creating a successful panoramic photograph is that the process is more fun and rewarding than simply capturing a passing snapshot. There isn't a shortcut to making good panoramas, in fact, you will most likely make a lot of mistakes while practising. However, with time and a little experience under your belt, the creation process will eventually become easier and we hope the above tips from the professionals help!