What is a "Panorama"?  

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What is a "Panorama"?

by Aeriscera » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:42 am

The following question was asked elsewhere:

Apapane wrote:A question: What is your definition of a panorama? Does it depend on angle of view, field of view (a broad landscape vs a single building vs a subject 20 cm x 20 cm), image size, or "explorability".

I have two primary photographic interest each with a separate definition. They are related but neither is what you'd find in a dictionary.

I am very taken with the idea of making geocoded images of the world for everyone to share. Some people think it is a Bad Thing to be able to see somewhere that you haven't made the effort to visit. I'm sympathetic to this view, but I feel that this is outweighed by the strengthening the concept of "global community" one gets (imo) from sharing the place one lives in (or visits). Therefore:

Kilgore661's Definition 1: Panorama = something that can be displayed at gigapan.org or a comparable system.

The other possibility that intrigues me is that of making very large prints for my own amusement (and in an ideal, imaginary world where I am an expert photographer, for profit), so:

Kilgore661's Definition 2: Panorama = very big image.

What these definitions have in common - if you accept that Def. 2 implies "digital" image (which I accept is not necessary) - is that the images need lots of high-quality pixels and that the subjects are "interesting". The latter is highly subjective of course. You wouldn't know this from looking at the stuff I have done so far, but one of my goals is to get away from chocolate-box images of the countryside/old buildings and make interesting images of commonplace scenes. For example, whilst there is a lot wrong with the following image, I really like the composition:



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by [bo] » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:53 am

In my own everyday language, I use the term "pano" (short for panorama) to describe any image that's a composite of two or more images. Those images must not be a stack (ie >90% overlapping). In other words, I call a "pano" every stitched image...

Image dimentions, FoV, pixel density - those attributes don't matter.
Some of my panoramas, posted in the Autopano Pro flickr group.

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by AlexandreJ » Mon Sep 01, 2008 3:31 pm

For me, a panorama is the output of autopano :) ! The notion is stitching, it has been created by using more than one image, it's not only width / height ratio stuff. A little world view for example is generally square, but it has a really large fov, 360° is fact. So the only satisfying definition I found was "it's a stitched picture".

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by klausesser » Mon Sep 01, 2008 3:49 pm

a panorama picture is an image which has a much more wider horizontal then vertical angle.
Angles define a "panorama". My 6x17cm camera and also a Noblex, Widelux, Zenith, Widepan are panorama cameras too. Their angles are around 120-140deg.

That´s "panorama". The term "panorama" has NOTHING to do with gigapixels - not even with high resolution.
I said it before: looking the site of Gigapan i mainly see very much pixels - but too often of very bad resolution and VERY badly matched stitches. THIS cannot be the way to shoot "gigapixel-images" . . .

best, Klaus
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by marco-pano » Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:34 pm

klausesser wrote:a panorama picture is an image which has a much more wider horizontal then vertical angle... best, Klaus

I agree with you Klaus about bad examples of Gagipon that have only pixels number as pretension.
Regarding your thinking of 'panorama', I guess that a 360x180° show me 360° around in horizontal and 360° around in vertical. So is-it still a panorama ? What about vertical panoramas like 60x120° that Alexandre said to appreciate ?
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by DrSlony » Mon Sep 01, 2008 7:50 pm

A panorama traditionally was a wide painting showing a 360 view. Then as photography emerged, the term covered wide photographs or several juxtaposed photographs. Nowadays we also call any stitched images a panorama, regardless of whether they are much wider than tall or not. "Panorama" is an old word and so it has many meanings.

I also agree with klausesser.

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by klausesser » Mon Sep 01, 2008 9:10 pm

marco-pano wrote:
klausesser wrote:a panorama picture is an image which has a much more wider horizontal then vertical angle... best, Klaus

I agree with you Klaus about bad examples of Gagipon that have only pixels number as pretension.
Regarding your thinking of 'panorama', I guess that a 360x180° show me 360° around in horizontal and 360° around in vertical. So is-it still a panorama ? What about vertical panoramas like 60x120° that Alexandre said to appreciate ?

360x180deg panos are interactive panos in my eyes - cubical or spherical, as you like.
Of course vertical panos also are panos:


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by BeeZed » Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:48 pm

Thanks Aeriscera for starting this thread. On one hand it is a bit strange to be debating the meaning of "panorama", but on the other hand useful to see how other people see it, and force myself to look at how I use the term.

First, I went to my favorite book on such things, the Focal Encyclopedia of Photography - from 1961: "Panorama. Picture that presents a continuous view of the landscape. In practice, such comprehensive pictures are generally built up from a series of separate photographs photographs covering the horizon, in overlapping sections."

Even before computers, panorama included the idea of stitching, and wide angles of view. I myself use "pano" to mean any stitched image, but "panorama" or "panoramic" for more typical wide aspect ratios.

I should probably try to stay "stitch" instead of "pano" when I am talking about for example a 2x2 grid of macro shots of a cut up cabbage. Or perhaps if I make it in APP it is by definition a "pano" no matter the shape. I think there is no right answer, but I should be aware that others may have different meanings for those words.

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by Aeriscera » Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:52 pm

BeeZed wrote:"Panorama. Picture that presents a continuous view of the landscape.

I love the word "continuous" in this context because it captures a sense that is common to the way I think about er, you know, those images like to take, thingy, truc ..., ok how about "panorama-inspired specialised super-images"? Oh the acronym is "pissi" - let's stick with "gigapans".

I also have no problem in weakening the definition by replacing "landscape" by "subject of interest". Macropissis - sorry, macrogigapano-style images of pizzas qualify in my book.

It's kind of ironic that I should like the word "continuous" when what most of us work with is digital (i.e. discrete or non-continuous) formats, but there is a sense of continuity in the way in which one can fly around a gigapan, and perhaps more tenuously, in the way a printed image can be as long as you like.

A

PS At the risk of starting thermonuclearflame wars, would anyone like to say what makes a pano a "good" one? Can one separate out what is "good" about a pano as a pano rather than as a photograph?

PPS Am I still me?

PPPS Who's eating this fish?
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by klausesser » Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:26 pm

"would anyone like to say what makes a pano a "good" one?"

In my eyes that´s easy to say: a "good" pano is a pano which is sharp and detailed, photographed with a fine light and transporting a fine mood.
Muddy, unsharp details and tons of CAs and lots of distortion in my eyes is NOT a "good" panorama . . :cool:

We better not forget that photography is a - should be a - creative medium . . .

CREATING a picture - not just shooting it using how many shots ever - is THE word. Aesthtetically composing, visualizing an idea, a mood.
Just showing things bores me.
A good picture sets something "into scene". Panorama or not panorama: i´ts photography in the end . .

good nite, Klaus
Last edited by klausesser on Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by waynejacobsen » Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:15 am

"would anyone like to say what makes a pano a "good" one?"

I agree with Klaus.

I'd espeically like to see an emphasis on composition. There are often panos in the gallery that are wider than needed for the subject.

I've done it many times myself. Its easy and fun to get caught up in the technical side of making a big panorama. Cropping the ends off would often be an improvement (even if the pano will be smaller).

(A related point for gallery postings is editing: one good pano is better than a group of fair panos.)

--Wayne

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by klausesser » Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:01 pm

waynejacobsen wrote:Its easy and fun to get caught up in the technical side of making a big panorama.

Absolutely! And that´s the problem. I can understand very well to be exited about all the technical things one can do using stitching, tonemapping and so on.
Always when a more or less "new" technology surfaces it´s used to some excess by hobbyists - sometimes indeed there are interesting results coming out. But using a technology excessively tend to make it boring.
Using a technology without aesthetical aspects AND a technical high quality at the same time maybe nice - but filling the galleries with pictures of only technology reasons "because i can do it" . . that´s really boring.

The real challenge is REDUCING to come to the "essence of the place" (as somebody said in the other thread).

"A related point for gallery postings is editing: one good pano is better than a group of fair panos."

you name it!

best, Klaus
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by hankkarl » Wed Sep 03, 2008 3:48 pm

IMO, that a panorama is stitched from two or more images is not a good answer.

I think we need several definitions of panorama:

1. an image with greater than (say) 3:1 aspect ratio -- If its printed so that the short dimension takes up most of your eye's FOV, you have to drastically turn your head to see all the picture.

2. an image that encompases a wide FOV -- an FOV wider than your widest lens :)

3. full circular and full spherical panos.

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by DrSlony » Wed Sep 03, 2008 4:22 pm

I read some time ago that a panorama is an image with the width 1.33 times or more greater than the height.

But really, who cares?

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by klausesser » Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:40 pm

hankkarl wrote:IMO, that a panorama is stitched from two or more images is not a good answer.

I think we need several definitions of panorama:

1. an image with greater than (say) 3:1 aspect ratio -- If its printed so that the short dimension takes up most of your eye's FOV, you have to drastically turn your head to see all the picture.

2. an image that encompases a wide FOV -- an FOV wider than your widest lens :)

3. full circular and full spherical panos.

I would this one see as a panorama: 120deg


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by klausesser » Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:44 pm

hankkarl wrote:IMO, that a panorama is stitched from two or more images is not a good answer.

I think we need several definitions of panorama:

1. an image with greater than (say) 3:1 aspect ratio -- If its printed so that the short dimension takes up most of your eye's FOV, you have to drastically turn your head to see all the picture.

2. an image that encompases a wide FOV -- an FOV wider than your widest lens :)

3. full circular and full spherical panos.

In my eyes that´s a panorama too - a 6x17 one-shot, about 120deg hor. That´s pretty wide.
You simply can´t always shoot stitched - a 6x17 @120-140deg (Noblex) surely IS a panorama.

or this one:
http://www.klausesser.de/stadt.html


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by BeeZed » Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:08 pm

Since we have so easily defined panorama, we can move on to deciding what is a good one ;)

I read once that a good stitched panorama should have 1/3 of the original images be visually interesting by themselves. The rest of the panorama helps link the interesting images and completes the mood or story. This may be too simple, as the sky shots in a multi row image are not interesting in themselves perhaps. Panoramic photography is the same as other forms: it must create a response in the viewer, hopefully by using tone, shape and subject. Good panoramas put me in the scene, and allow me to discover new details as I scan across them. Being able to include 360 (or more) degrees in an image makes it very difficult to compose and view as a print. This I think means I sometimes focus on technique rather than composition. I like images that successfully capture more than a person can normally see, yet make it seem natural rather than gimmicky.

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by hub » Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:00 pm

The definition of a panorama may be : « a large, general view from an elevated place » (the panorama deck, the panoramic point of view). By extension, there is an another definition: « an overview » (of possibilities, of the history of determined period of time). This second definition is out of our interest.
So, let's the panorama be a large view, larger than a « normal » human field of view (45-60°)...

If we talk about the quality of panoramas (the prescription for a « good » panorama) we have to remember that any presentation of the panoramic image is an adaptation to our visual possibilities of human field of view = 45°. Two cases exist:

1)The flat panorama seen as if it was a “normal” 45° picture, even if its horizontal field of view is >120°.

For any flat panorama we can apply the classic theory of composition (proportion, focal point, diagonals, symmetry, variety, contrast, rhythm, etc). The theory gives a support and some “land-marks” to make a difference between a good and a bad panorama.

2)The spherical panorama which needs a player (QT, Deval, Flash....) and to be observed on a smaller than our panorama, flat screen.

Using a player we have to move, to zoom in and out, looking at each part of the whole panorama that will be reconstructed in our mind. This process is relatif, nothing in it is absolute. Moving, we try to put a frame (a screen) on the picture, to center and to square a part of pano we are looking at. The frame takes part in the pictural composition. In that way we discover in our panorama some potentially independent images, some separate compositions... May the number and the quality of these “independent compositions” indicate the quality of the whole panorama itself ? For my own use, I considered that a good panorama starts with 3 “frames” (having the independent and interesting composition) placed around. It is very difficult to find more than 5 “frames”...

Some people have seen in the panorama a new, “democratic” media, giving a lot of liberty to the spectator. In part, this liberty is true : framing, zooming, visibility in all directions, but... The quality of the aesthetic perception depend on the ability in framing and on the pictural culture of the spectator... And, one element is anti-democratically imposed in panorama : the point of view! This main element has to be chosen with consciousness, or feeling. Every place has its own “genius locci” that can correspond with this geometrical point where a good panographer place his tripod.

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by hankkarl » Thu Sep 04, 2008 9:01 pm

klausesser wrote:
hankkarl wrote:IMO, that a panorama is stitched from two or more images is not a good answer.

I think we need several definitions of panorama:

1. an image with greater than (say) 3:1 aspect ratio -- If its printed so that the short dimension takes up most of your eye's FOV, you have to drastically turn your head to see all the picture.

2. an image that encompases a wide FOV -- an FOV wider than your widest lens :)

3. full circular and full spherical panos.

In my eyes that´s a panorama too - a 6x17 one-shot, about 120deg hor. That´s pretty wide.
You simply can´t always shoot stitched - a 6x17 @120-140deg (Noblex) surely IS a panorama.

Hi Klaus,

OK, I'll modify rule 2 to exclude camera/lens systems that have about a 3:1 ratio like the 6x17 -- I hadn't thought of that one. BTW, I meant the rules to be that a picture fitting any one rule is a pano, I didn't mean that a pano requires all 3 rules.

My widest lens is a 12mm on a 5D, 111x88 degree FOV. So its not quite as wide as yours (and its probably not as good either). But I think that any single picture I get out of the camera is not a pano unless I crop it. You have some awesome equipment and don't need to crop :)
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by GURL » Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:10 pm

What I'm interested in is what is possible using digital photography and was impossible - or nearly impossible - using film and usual cameras to make prints.

Combining several photographs in a single resulting image seems very promising and includes what was known as panoramic photography since the very beginning (1845) but obviously includes many other interesting possibilities. No doubt the traditional boundaries between drawing, painting, movies, video and photography are much less founded than they were.
Georges

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by klausesser » Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:54 pm

GURL wrote:What I'm interested in is what is possible using digital photography and was impossible - or nearly impossible - using film and usual cameras to make prints.

Combining several photographs in a single resulting image seems very promising and includes what was known as panoramic photography since the very beginning (1845) but obviously includes many other interesting possibilities. No doubt the traditional boundaries between drawing, painting, movies, video and photography are much less founded than they were.

Hi Georges!

"Panorama" in it´s original ancient-greek meaning is "that, what you see". In the common sense it´s used also as a kind of "overlook".

Both meaning´s interpretation of a photographic image tell nothing about a size or a photographic format . . (not surprising ;) )

In photography the meaning is - in my eyes - at least 2 or three or more times wider than high.
Regardless of interactive (cubical or cylindrical) or rectangular and also regardless or resolution!

It´s nice - very nice - to have a gigapixel image to zoom in. But in the end it´s photography - which means "writing/painting with light". And photography - in my personal view - means creation, composing, aesthetics. Not just collecting visual information.
As i mentioned: that´s just MY personal view of it. Of course "just" collecting visual information is ALSO a task of photography but - again my personal view - should be accompanied by some technical perfection WHILE collecting the visual information AND during playback this collected information.
That means that it would be better to limit a zoom to max. 100% - IF the visual quality of the information is ok @100%.

Very often not even that is given - but nevertheless some viewers let you zoom up SOME hundred percent.
And at that level NO valuable information is transported especially when even at 100% the quality is miserable.

THAT`S my main critics regarding the gigapan idea. Young enthusiasts use the technology and their options and don´t learn to look at their results under the aspects of aesthetical or just technical criterias. In my eyes that is fatal.

best, Klaus
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by GURL » Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:42 pm

klausesser wrote:In photography the meaning is - in my eyes - at least 2 or three or more times wider than high.
Regardless of interactive (cubical or cylindrical) or rectangular and also regardless or resolution!

Me, I would include images two or three times higher than wide, don't you?

klausesser wrote:in my eyes .. in my personal view .. As i mentioned: that´s just MY personal view of it.

Different Autopano users pursuing different goals: that's right!

klausesser wrote:That means that it would be better to limit a zoom to max. 100% - IF the visual quality of the information is ok @100%.

Very often not even that is given - but nevertheless some viewers let you zoom up SOME hundred percent.
And at that level NO valuable information is transported especially when even at 100% the quality is miserable.

THAT`S my main critics regarding the gigapan idea. Young enthusiasts use the technology and their options and don´t learn to look at their results under the aspects of aesthetical or just technical criterias. In my eyes that is fatal.

I found peoples being impressed by spherical panos image quality when and only when viewer "max zoom" setting is adjusted rather than ignored. No doubt Gigapan users will learn that, too...
Georges

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by Paul » Sun Sep 07, 2008 5:21 pm

klausesser wrote:THAT`S my main critics regarding the gigapan idea. Young enthusiasts use the technology and their options and don´t learn to look at their results under the aspects of aesthetical or just technical criterias. In my eyes that is fatal.

pardon me, but this does not show the calmness of a professional, I am sure only a very few are born with all the skills, which other people need to to develop and some other will never develop. And some will take it as challenge to become better, some not. So what?

I hope for people who can take the gigapan adventure with a lot of generosity.

Cheers
Paul
Paul

close, but no cigar ... ... ...

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by klausesser » Sun Sep 07, 2008 5:47 pm

GURL wrote:Me, I would include images two or three times higher than wide, don't you?

Yes - of course!!!:cool:

best, Klaus
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