Why Panoramic Photos?
Panoramas are wonderful for capturing sweeping landscapes and creating a journey through the photograph. Since they are a different shape than the average photograph, they are more eye catching and push the viewer to engage with the photograph in a different way. Panoramas were used almost exclusively for landscape but with the broad accessibility of being able to stitch pictures together in camera, they can now be used for so much more. If you're photographing a larger crowd, shooting in a tight space or just trying to help people see an ordinary object in a different way, you can use panoramic photographs to do that.
If you're camera has a panoramic setting, try shooting subject matter you would have never thought of using with a panoramic photograph: try taking a portrait of a loved one, shoot documentary photographs at 3rd Street in Santa Monica or photograph your pet zebra.
We all love Ansel Adams for a variety of reasons: his beautiful beard, his rugged good looks but most likely it may have something to do with his photographs as well. One of Adams' greatest contributions is his mastery of the tool of photography. The challenge with photographing is that our eyes and brains are much more sophisticated at rendering light than our cameras. One of the biggest short comings of a camera compared to our big brains is that it can't see into the darker areas and lighter areas in a bright environment like we can.
However digital photography has made getting great images much easier through HDR (High Dynamic Range) techniques. When composing an HDR photo, you won't need to choose between exposing your photo for the brightest areas of the subject or the darkest areas. You can take several photos at different exposures and then compile them to create one image that combines the best exposures for each area of the photograph. And the best news is you wont have to bring your pack mule with you to photograph like Adams did; unless of course, you like the company.
Most DSLRs have the option to bracket exposures (if you don't know what this means, come to the HDR class in May!). Try to set your exposures around 2/3 to 1 stop apart in bright situations to have good options available. And don't over do it, if someone can tell you're using HDR then it's too extreme. You want them seeing your picture, not your technique.
Want to know more?
Robert Vlach will be teaching a class about panoramic photography on Saturday, May 3 from 12-2pm, and he will be teaching a class about HDR photography on Saturday, May 10 from 12-2pm. Click on the title of either class for more information and to register!