Pieces to Panographies
18-year-old Kushal Goenka shares how he uses more than a photograph to show what our eyes can perceive in a scene.
This article was originally published in February 2010.
Making collages of photographs or panographies that display what cannot be seen or represented through one photograph.
A few minutes to shoot the pictures, and a few hours to assemble many images into one shot.
All works of art require an eye for beauty. You can try this technique whenever you see beauty around you.
Have you ever come across a situation when you see a beautiful tree on your left, a towering office building on your right and a cloud-laden sky in the background? And have you wished that you could capture everything you can see with your eyes? I have. But it is not always possible to capture it all in one shot, in one single frame.
So I decided to take a number of pictures of everything I liked from that scene. Armed with many images, I went home and assembled a patchwork of images that represented my idea of what I saw with my bare eyes, especially when compared to what I could see through the camera’s viewfinder. This patchwork can be called a super wide-angle panorama; but I like to call it ‘panography’. Panography is a wide-angle picture composed of several individual photographs that have been manually put together. Once assembled, they give the viewer an impression of what you were seeing while standing in that place. I was hooked to the process!
The first step is to go out and find something interesting to shoot. Whenever I come across a scene good enough for this experiment, I find an appropriate place to shoot from. For me, it is important that this vantage point allows me to see everything that I want to include in the frame.
The next step is the actual photography process. While the Auto mode works well for single shots, panography requires special attention in terms of exposure. To ensure that all my photographs ended up with the same tonality as the scene, I set my camera to the Manual mode and chose an aperture and shutterspeed combination that best suited the overall subject. Finally, I began shooting. I looked around and made it a point to include all the details and elements I needed. I also shot some additional elements.
A big consideration in panography is the choice of focal length. It is important to maintain one focal length throughout the session, so that images do not have to be resized or cropped while processing. I prefer having more photos to work with, so I use the telephoto end of my lens and shoot more pictures.
For further variations, I like to experiment with the opacity of the photographs in Photoshop—from 100% to slightly transparent frames. In the end, I think panographs are a lot of fun to create, and it showcases how we see and perceive scenes around us.
My Equipment: For this series, I used my Canon EOS 500D with the Tamron 18–270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD lens. But to shoot panographs you can use any camera—a compact, a professional DSLR even a mobile phone camera. The best camera, though, is the one that you always carry with you, because you never know when you come across an interesting location or scene.
Make Your Own Panograph
- Maintain your shooting position: Do not move from your position. From that position, point your lens in all directions for your panograph.
- Shoot overlapping shots: The more they overlap, the easier it is to assemble your panograph. Ensure that you cover every spot so that you are not left with a hole in your final panograph.
- Process the images: Transfer the photos to your computer, and open Photoshop. Create a large RGB Canvas to work on. If you need more space later, go to Image > Canvas. Copy the photos into this canvas. Copy five to ten photos at a time, as it is easy to manage that way.
- Change the opacity: Set the Opacity of each photo to 50% through the Layer Panel. Then use the Move and Rotate tools to arrange your photos by overlapping each other and forming your view. Be careful not to skew or resize the images by mistake.
- Assemble the images: A panograph is like a puzzle. It will take some time and patience to get it right, so be sure to save your progress.
- Merge layers: When you are done, press Shift+Ctrl+E, and resize your image to share it with others.