New Panoramas

Sunday 5th January, the day before Epiphany, I was going to the première of the film Epiphany in the middle of the afternoon, and since the sun was out I made myself a pack of sandwiches and set off with my camera bag to test out using the D700 and D800E to make some panoramas.

The film was showing at the Cinema Museum, close to the Elephant, a short bus ride from the Thames at Vauxhall, and I’d planned to walk along the Thames Path from Putney towards there. South West Trains had other ideas with its Sunday engineering works – which often play minor havoc with my plans – and there were no trains via Putney, so I decided to do the walk rather less conveniently in the opposite direction.

I took my first panorama in rather a hurry, as a group of runners arrived on the Thames path by Vauxhall bridge only seconds after me, and I had the 16mm on the D700 as they came past. The result has a rather tame angle of view of around 95 degrees horizontal, and an aspect ratio of 1.8:1, only a little more than the normal 35mm frame of 1.5:1.

A few yards along I stopped to make the next picture, this time using the 12-24mm Sigma zoom at 12mm, giving a rather wider 112 degree horizontal view. It seemed to be beginning to work as I wanted a panorama to work.

Next I tried the Nikon 16mm full-frame fisheye, and this gave me an view of almost 140 degrees, and was fine, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the aspect ratio. Working with film cameras like the Hasselblad X-Pan or Horizon I’ve got used to working with aspect ratios around 2.4 :1, and this was only 1.85:1.

Image above cropped to 2.3:1 ratio

Perhaps I could regard the image as having been made to allow a virtual rising or falling front, letting me crop to something nearer the ratio I was used to working with.

Cropping has another advantage too, perhaps less obvious in this image than in some others. Although the equirectangular projection that I’ve decided to standardize on (you can’t sensibly use the more photographically normal rectilinear perspective for angles of view much above 90 degrees) keeps verticals upright and avoids the extreme stretching that extreme wide rectilinear views suffer from at the edges, it has the effect of increasing curvature of other straight lines away from the horizon. The curvature is greater as they get further from the centre of the image, and so is less apparent in the cropped version.

In Thames Path Panoramas you can see some further examples of panoramas, mainly with angles of view of around 110 or 140 degrees. I’ve included among them a few pairs of images made with both angles from the same or a very nearly the same viewpoint. But in most cases I preferred the wider view and have used just that. It’s an interesting walk, at least along most of the way, as I think you can see from the pictures I made later, and if the trains are running (they weren’t) you can get one back from Wandsworth Town or walk on to Putney.

The D800E (and D800) has a very useful feature for those who want to make panoramas, with its built-in virtual horizon. Usually my inability to hold a camera level isn’t a great handicap – and easily corrected in Lightroom where necessary, but it becomes much more important in making panoramas.

The travel problems meant I didn’t get quite as far as I hoped – not quite to the area I was actually most interested in revisiting – but in any case the weather was deteriorating, and the bright morning had changed to a wet an sullen afternoon before I saw my bus coming and ran a couple of hundred yards to beat it to the stop, thanks to some traffic lights, and made the film in time.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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