On Multimedia & Photography

Widelux Panoramic Photography Compendium – Tips, links and stories

In Panography, Tools, Widelux on July 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Softball Widelux Panorama in Vermont

Recently, I’ve started working with the Widelux – which allows for ‘decisive moment’ panoramas – a specialized Japanese camera now out-of-production, after the Panon factory burnt down . The camera achieves this through a neat 26mm lens that swings across the curved film plane allowing for a 126 degree field of view (140 diagonally across the negative), roughly approximating what we see in front of us. Unlike the extreme distortion you get in ultra-wide or fisheye lenses, the widelux preserves detail evenly while giving a subtle form of distortion.  (Detailed explanation here.)

Photography has always been a way for me to share my experiences, to give a sense of the spaces out there. Panoramas offer a unique aspect ratio to engage viewers. The fact that most 35mm SLRs and DSLR cameras are in 3:2 aspect ratios has intensely affected how we frame, process, print and digest imagery. The exact reason we settled on 3:2 seems to be a point of contention – one photographer attributes this ‘golden rectangle’ sizing to Oscar Barnack, who is credited with engineering the first still-photo camera capitalizing on surplus 35mm cinema-film.  As with any new aspect ratio, I’ve found myself re-creating rules of composition and lighting to work with the widelux.

A lot of point-and-shoot cameras use the 4:3 wider ratio, which more closely matches the increasing glut of widescreen monitors and TVs. As the costs involved in creating digital sensors drop, maybe a digital panoramic camera to span across your HDTV (that isn’t insanely expensive) might become a reality.

In researching panoramic photography particularly related to the widelux,  material out there has been relatively fragmented and sparse so I’ve written this post to aggregate and showcase some of the most useful and inspiring info and imagery  I’ve found. Of course, this is far from final and any additions or corrections are welcome. More after the jump.

‘Islands of the World’ Book Cover

In news, Showcase, Taiwan on June 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm

My photo of the Queen’s guard in London has been published on one of the covers of a two-volume set on ‘Islands of the World,’ a series of features by Rhythms Monthly magazine from Taiwan. The photo of the guards in their bearskin hats at a post-Olympics  (2008) homecoming parade present a striking contrast to the East-Timor fishermen on the other cover. Completed over almost three years, the project encompassed a sort of comparative look at various islands’ histories and culture, a chance for the Taiwanese readership to consider how other islands have developed.

Having joined the magazine in the final year of the project, my contributions include features on Great Britain, Japan and Ireland. Click the links to check out work for those stories, along with tearsheets here.

The two books come in a simple but elegant cardboard holder, that show uncropped versions of the cover image.

“Camera, Camera” – Documentary by Malcolm Murray

In Documentary Film on June 25, 2010 at 9:17 am

A disturbing but important look at camera ubiquity and the seeming end of getting ‘off’ the beaten path. There’s a good discussion over at the NYT Lens Blog on the making of the doc and how this proliferation of cameras increasingly puts a distance between tourists and their surrounds.

The world as a whole is being altered by the colonization of fragile cultures by camera-carrying travelers.

Looking forward to seeing this documentary; hope that it makes it beyond the festival track.

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