Since the dawn of the photographic age, in the early eighteen hundreds, artists and photographers have pushed the limits of this incredible invention. Over the years, constant innovations and advancements in photographic technology have turned novice picture takers into real camera hounds. One aspect of photography that has fascinated professionals and amateurs alike is the panoramic image.
In the early days of photography, capturing a photographic image was a laborious task. Unlike the almost instantaneous results available through modern digital technology, the process of permanently fixing an image to a photographic plate could take hours.
Panoramic images are not formally defined but generally extend beyond what is considered a wide angle shot. Wide angle photo images are taken in a single camera shot using a lens that shortens the focal length of a standard lens and increases the view angle. Panoramic images feature an extremely wide view angle and can produce very unique still images of landscapes, structures and other subject matter.
A super wide angle lens produces a fish eye view that contains a great deal of optical and dimensional distortion. So it is accurate to think of panoramas as super wide angle images that can have far less visual distortion. The lack of distortion gives the viewer the impression of the subject as it might be seen through eyes of the viewer. Some panoramic images are will retain some degree of visual distortion and this may be the result of purposeful decision on the part of the photographer.
Even in the early days of photography, successful attempts were made to create stunning three hundred and sixty degree panoramas. The creation of these images was truly a technological innovation for the time and demand to possess and collect these images began to grow.
By pushing the limits of equipment, lighting, film quality and processing, photographers have discovered new and exciting ways to create photographic images. The advent of digital photography has raised picture taking to an entirely new level. Digital technology has made the creation of panoramic images much easier. Even the invention of the airplane provided photographers with opportunities to give us images that were impossible to capture before the invention of powered flight.
Many panoramas are actually a compilation of two or more photographic images. The multiple images are combined using a process that some refer to as stitching. The entire process of creating panoramas has been made easier with the development of specialized computer software. Many smaller images can be stitched together with a high degree of accuracy. These powerful software tools also allow the panoramic artist to enhance the image in many different ways.
Colors can be balanced and flaws in the image corrected in a matter of minutes. Prior to the introduction of digital technology, retouching the image could be very time consuming. In the days of film photography, the image would need to be spray painted, or airbrushed, using very fine, handheld spray nozzles. The touchup artist needed a keen eye for detail and a very steady hand.
The demand for panoramic images has increased steadily over the years. Digital photo technology has greatly increased the availability of panoramas and the variety of images and subject matter has increased as well. Cityscapes have always been very popular with buyers. Demand has also grown sports and entertainment images like sports stadiums, golf courses and racetracks.
Panoramas can be used to express a number of themes from the starkly realistic to the highly artistic. For the most part, panoramas express visions of reality in ways that are not possible through viewing an ordinary photograph. The grandeur of the Grand Canyon or the power of Niagara Falls, as seen through a panoramic image would surely be understated when viewed as mere snapshot.