Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/05/27

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Subject: [Leica] Panorama advice
From: "BIRKEY, DUANE" <>
Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 8:31:13 -0500

I've been not reading the lug for about a month, and I'm still swamped 
with work and E-mails.  One of my projects has been a series of 180 and 
360 panoramas of various scenes near our hydroelectric construction 
project which happens to be in a ecological reserve.  

It's been a pain, but the results have gotten lots of oohs and aahs, 
including from the minister of Ecuador's environmental agency. The 
toughest part on the shooting end is getting the camera positioned on the 
tripod.  I've been using a Bogen 3025 head since it is the only one (I 
have) where you can actually get the camera in perfect position so 
everything matches up nicely.  If you don't have it centered correctly, 
you end up with double appearing foreground objects.  I use a 35mm lens 
for most scenes with the camera vertical.  You want a lens with the least 
amount of fall-off and distortion.  I've done some with a 20-35 zoom at 
20, but it's kind of a pain.  Keeping the camera square is a must.  But 
I've gotten surprisingly good results from hand-held ones and some a few 
disasters as well from that same method.

For aligning the camera, I pick a foreground and background object.  
(Doorways work great for testing)  I then line them up so there is a 
fraction of a gap between the two. Look through the camera at the left 
edge, study the gap, rotate the camera to the right side.  Repeat the 
process, adjusting the position until the gaps match and both are 
parallel.  With Bogens 3047 and 3029 head,  you will discover that they 
will not allow you to work in this matter. so you'll have to use the 
camera horizontally.  (Which I haven't done)

You can cheat a bit by choosing your overlap areas carefully.  The best 
areas for overlap are plain areas or areas with repetitive non-specific 
detail.  Try to avoid having important or registration sensitive subject 
material in a overlap area.  I aim for no more than 10% overlap as I want 
as few splices as possible.  But I shoot every sequence twice and change 
the overlap areas so I have two different sets to choose from. No matter 
how much effort you put into the shooting side........  The lab will make 
or break your series.  You have to convince them not to adjust the 
exposure or color  (Incidently, shooting in even slightly changing light 
conditions will drive you nuts later on) and print all of the negatives 
in the same position.

Last of all, mounting and positioning everything is yet another 
hair-pulling affair.  I order at least one extra set of prints figuring 
my Exacto knife or the straight edge will slip or something will happen 
in the process of  dry-mounting them.  I've been mounting things on black 
seamless paper so they can fit in a presentation folder.

Even though it's a pain to do, especially if you are a perfectionist.  
It's kind of addictive, in you've discovered how to portray subjects in a 
different and truly unique way. 

Duane Birkey

HCJB World Radio
Quito Ecuador