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Point Bonita PierWhen asked to explain one of his poems, Robert Frost once said, "What, you want me to say it worse?" I struggle, for this reason, to explain my interests or motivations without the photography itself. I have always responded best to private, natural environments, so I suppose my photography is an excuse to immerse myself in these places. The act of composing a photograph improves my understanding of the landscape - the location and time of a sunset, the pattern of the surf, or the precise meanderings of a stream. The camera can also reveal certain forms and behaviors imperceptible to the human eye. A long exposure, for example, may visually and emotionally convey the expanse of the ocean, the activity of cars on a freeway at night, or the slow, constant movement of the stars - phenomenas we can only sense in person.

I also strive to capture greater detail or a greater field of view than possible with a conventional 35mm camera by sitiching together several images. This technique, perhaps frowned upon by some purists, in my opinion opens up an entirely new creative avenue. These images do not undergo digital manipulation in the dishonest sense of the phrase; they are merely remapped to record - perhaps even more accurately than a single image - the experience of actually being in a place.

Panorama ExampleLabels


Combining several images to form one composite has two primary advantages: greater versatility with field-of-view and composition, and greater detail. These advantages need not be exclusive.

This image has a horizontal field-of-view of 120 degrees - an unachievable wide-angle perspective with a standard lens. It is also comprised of 34 images arranged in three rows, capturing an enormous amount of detail - 104 megapixels to be precise. It can be printed full size at 24" x 72".



As long as the camera is rotated about the "entrance pupil" of the lens, the images may be joined together seamlessly. Failure to rotate the camera about this point will result in parralax error - the apparent change in the relative position of objects in the foreground and background - and will make stitching difficult or impossible. An everyday example of parralax is how the speedometer in a car appears to read a different speed when viewed from the passenger seat versus the driver's seat. In that case, the perceived position of the needle relative to the dash has changed due to viewing perspective. Special tripod attachments, or panoramic heads, can maintain the camera in the correct position.

Using stitching software, overlapping source images are then assigned control points, which the program uses to compute the position of each image in the panorama. The images are then output and the seams blended either manually using Photoshop layers, or with the help of additional software.

all images © 2007 Michael Connor