Taking Panoramic Landscapes - The Easy Solutionby Gary Nugent
love panoramas. There's something very appealing about their shape. It's probably because we see the world more in these dimensions than the near square format of standard film/sensor frames. It might also explain the upsurge in the popularity of widescreen TVs!
Panoramas have a reputation of being hard to take. There are dedicated panorama cameras available but unless you've got at least a thousand dollars to spare, you probably can't afford one! But you can take panoramas with any kind of camera.
All a panorama is, is a sequence of images where you turn slightly for each different frame. In the old days, before PCs and the likes of Photoshop were around, you'd take your prints (there wasn't much point in shooting panoramas on slide film, for obvious reasons), lay them out on a table and position them over each other where they overlapped. A bit of sticky tape held them together.
[As a side note, this technique was used by NASA to build up mosaic pictures of the planets and satellites their spaceprobes visited, up till the late '70s/early 80s when computers were introduced to make the process less laborious].
Now that PCs and image manipulation packages are easy to come by, high-quality panoramas can now be created by anyone. If you're shooting slide or negative film, you will need to have your images scanned before you do anything else.
The idea behind taking panoramas with SLR cameras is that the camera is rotated around its nodal point during each successive exposure. What's the Nodal Point? It's the point inside your camera where the light rays converge and flip over. It's different for different focal lengths (on zoom lenses) and for different prime lenses (fixed focal length lenses like a standard 50mm lens). It's important to rotate about this point to eliminate image mismatches due to changes in parallax. Parallax is the apparent shift of an object against a background due to a change in observer position.
Just to be clear, the Nodal Point is not the same as the film/sensor plane. Generally, for most SLR cameras and lenses, the Nodal Point is located somewhere towards the center of the lens barrel and lies in front of the image/sensor plane.Page 1 of 3. (To continue this article, go to The Problem With Parallax)