Digital technologies have allowed us photographers to enhance the tonal range of our pictures, to control how the final print is going to look and to repair old, stained, holed images… and even better, have enabled us to face new photographic possibilities that two decades ago were very difficult to deal with or required very expensive gear, like photography of very wide landscapes or huge objects that needed special panoramic cameras or fish-eye lenses that deformed the image.
The pursue of panoramic images have always been the workhorse of landscape photographers. Pano stitching technologies brought some years ago new possibilities to this genre of photography.
In the eighties and nineties panorama camera where VERY expensive: you had to buy a 6000$ Linhoff Technorama or a Fuji 6x9 to get a real panoramic image on 120 (medium format) film. The other possibility was to shoot with fish-eye lenses that always deformed the image… personally I have never liked them.
I went to the Italian Alps with the Nikons loaded with Velvia 50. I shot a panorama of the Corno Bianco at sunset. I got four Cibachromes printed in a lab and joined them together using tape in a very traditional analogic way; today it looks the cheapstake way, but it was the only process available then. There were stitching programs in the market, but they simply did not work, especially when they had to deal with big size files. I tested some commercial applications but in the end had to give up.
A few years later I recovered my faith in digital stitching and tried new software and have to admit they did wonders. The algorithms used a few years later to stitch panoramas were light-years away from the first ones. Although the efficiency rate is not 100% they are now able to stich most of the panoramic situations and produce huge files if you have enough RAM memory in your computer.
Although the efficiency rate is not 100% they are now able to stich most of the panoramic situations and produce huge files if you have enough RAM memory in your computer.
Today the stitching technology works great and even mobile phones are able to stich pictures with good quality and any editing software can produce high quality Panoramas at a very low price.
The reality is that, although technology is available for anyone who want to dedicate some time to read books and test software, few people have the time to manage the technology that the digital world has given to us.
Most of my friends (some of them are advanced amateurs) do not evolve as they could because they spend enough time in front of a computer in his daily job, and prefer dedicating their weekend time to other activities instead of photography. I understand their position 100%, especially when I look back at all the time I have personally invested in front of a computer.
Getting rid of some of our unusable files may not be the best option. Technology could help us to recover some of our defective pictures sooner than expected.
We can get three bottom lines from this small reflection on the changing world of photography.
- Getting rid of some of our unusable files may not be the best option. Technology could help us to recover some of our defective pictures sooner than expected. In fact, I keep thousands of black and white negatives and slides that I know will be able to scan and work on in a few years for a price that is a fraction of the actual prices. A few of them were defective, but most of them were correct, but had an unusable (at that moment) contrast or printable tonal range. Just a warning: it depends on your style of shooting, but keeping every picture you take may also be considered an error that may lead to a difficult to manage file full of useless pictures.
- Shooting high quality printable pictures is today cheaper and easier than ever, but only if you have the time to learn the how a camera body works and many other digital image management tools.
- The main tool of photography, the ability to SEE CREATIVELY A SCENE and translate it into a photograph, has suffered absolutely no change with the arrival of the digital technology.
Have you tried digital stitching technologies? What is your experience with panoramic stitching software? What software do you usually use?
TECHNICAL DATA OF THE PUBLISHED IMAGE
SHUTTER SPEED: 1/4
Light intensity was relatively low at the end of the day, so measured with the Nikon FM2 using Aperture Mode.
I closed my lens to have some depth of field.
ISO: Fuji Velvia 50
This film was simply the best to render the beauty of mountain landscapes at that moment.
When a tripod is used, no mode is needed. Manual is always the most comfortable option.
LENS USED: Nikon 60 mm Micro
I wanted the Peaks to be not too far away, so chose the very sharp 60mm Micro. A lens for Macrophotography, but also usable for general photography.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I wanted to take a panorama of this impressive scene with so nice lighting, so used my small Gitzo 01 tripod, light enough to allow me to work in to the mountains. I shot some panoramas. If you are going to shoot panoramas you must level the head of the tripod, which is very difficult if yours do not have a bubble. This was the hardest part of shooting this picture.
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