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How to take good panoramic shots?

Elvis Elvis

I just love panoramic shots! One of the limitations standard film cameras have had that I have lamented for years is the fact that even with a very good wide-angle lens, the ability to do an effective pan shot was limited to say the least. I’ve spent hours and hours in the darkroom trying to match up two or three customer negatives so the finished product looks like a true pan shot.

I’m sure you have seen the long, long photographs that used to be taken of large groups of people…everything from entire school populations, to medical school grads, to graduates of law schools, etc. Look on the wall of your doctor’s or lawyer’s office. These kinds of photos used to be taken with a special pan camera.

The photographic subjects were arranged in a semi-circle configuration with the tripod-mounted camera being placed in the very center. When the shutter was tripped, the camera actually panned from one end of the group to the other. I remember when I was in high school being placed at the very end of the bottom row and when the camera had passed me, running like the wind to the opposite end of the group and having my image appearing twice in the same photo. What a hoot!! (The school principal wasn’t amused and I had to serve five one-hour detentions as a result.)

To take a good pan series you will need a tripod. Hand-held will work but not to the same high degree. Sorry, but you’re going to have to go to your camera’s user manual to get the correct settings. Once the pictures are in the bag (or on the media card) you can download them to your computer.

How to take good panoramic shots?

The rest is easy. The software that came with your camera will have a pan assembly capability. In the event you don’t have this capability, PaintShop Pro can come in real handy. This software has the capability of allowing you to electronically enhance your picture(s) to the point you may even want to hang your masterpiece on your livingroom wall.

Just to demonstrate a little of what I’m talking about, I have included three shots of downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I’ve set up the three just as they were taken, separate photographs taken with a wide-angle lens. Just below these three shots is the completed composite. Look closely and you’ll see it’s absolutely seamless. You can’t see where they were joined.

This can be a lot of fun and is really worth playing with.