Saturday, June 18, 2011

P3: panorama

A panorama is by definition a picture whose width far exceeds its height. In the open countryside finding such a view would be relatively easy, however, for this assignment I wanted to return to the city and explore another location for photography.  The location I chose is a small island in the middle of the river Isar close to the city center.  The river is an ideal subject for a panorama, providing a clear open foreground against which a clearly defined line (the opposite bank) can be seen.  The area in question is quite heavily wooded on the east bank and as it was early evening this is the direction I was obliged to shoot in. Within these woods stand a number of distinctive buildings providing points of interest within the panoramas.

For this project I picked up my Canon 5D2 and a collection of wide to normal primes, a 24mm, 35mm, and 50mm.  I wanted the higher resolution of the full frame camera and in particular wanted to further test my relatively new 35mm f/1.4.  The location can be accessed in google maps via the following link:

River Isar

The first shot is a broad view of the location taken looking south:

With this and the other photographs in this project I have selected a very wide aspect ration of 3:1 width to height.  In the case of the above photograph this allows me to remove a great deal of the sky and most of the foreground water, both essentially negative space in the image.  As expected this creates a much tighter composition, but most importantly throws added emphasis to the tower and building, the picture has a stronger sense of leading the eye into the group of buildings occupying the center ground.

Simply turning my camera the other way, but leaving the tower in view I have created a similar crop, although this time I feel that this is less succesful, the cropped photograph is not as well balanced as the previous image.  The cut off of the bridge is irritating and the tower is now orphaned.

Swinging my camera even further to the left I can now include some of the structure that I am standing on, a cuaseway over a weir that splits the high and low parts of the river.  The crop works far better.  The causeway adds a lead in to top the rest of the picture anf the cyclist is a much strogner picture element than in the uncropped photograph.  The crop almost appears to be in two parts, the foreground causeway and the bridge.  This framing is more reminiscent of a stitched panorama than a crop, it has a sense of forced perspective that comes with stitching.

Keeping in mind the need to look for framing that included a dominant object in the foreground I moved closer to a blockhouse at the end of the causeway, planning to use this to contrast to the bridge.  Once again the crop produces a better balanced image, particularly with a bridge that spans the photograph.  The concrete building is less dominant in the drop than in the original, but is still very much attention getting.  This is not a pleasant comp, but a useful experiment in placing foreground objects in a crop panorama

From all of these photographs the image with the lady on the bicycle works best, the image combines balance, but also has a sense of movement.

Another thought I had on this outing was to create a long image along the river bank, by merging a number of images taking side by side.  This failed utterly as shifting the camera by location changed the perspective so greatly that CS4 had no chance to align the images.  If a small change in the nodal point of the camera can cause issues then moving it my 10m is a major issue.

The following image was one that I would like to have merged into a horizontally stitched panorama of the river bank.  On its own it is a nice picture, but nothing special. 

Having grabbed the photographs I wanted for the cropping exercise I explored the area of the island and connecting bridges, getting a feel for the area photographically.  This is the west side of the river, where the Isar is diverted into a canal like stretch running parallel to the wilder river of my earlier photographs.

Several bridges cross the river from both sides of the island, this is one, with a group of people waiting for a gig to start at a music festival on the island - made for very loud photography.

I am quite keen on vertical framing for close ups of the city, this is an experiment

Sadly the buildings on the river are the target of manay grafiti artists, although is does add some colour and these little girls did not seem to mind

Heading home I crossed to the other side of the river into a wooded park that runs parallel to the Isar.  The following 3 shots describe the terrain and illustrate the ability to shoot countryside in the city.  The first I like for composition, I a keen on negative space, this has plenty.

As I mentioned earlier this is a popular place for street artists and pretty much everywhere you go there is spray paint on the walls.  This is strange as Munich is not normally much afflicted by grafitti.  The underside of the bridges are favorite haunts, I cannot decide whether this adds or takes away, I am not automatically against this form of expression, just prefer it to be in context:

These bridges are interesting forms and worthy of study, maybe I should think about an Isar project, looking at the parks and buildings against the river.  This would be difficult to tie together, but that difficulty might make it more rewarding.  Finally, and firmly back into the grafitti topic, this is a pumping house along the river, completly overwhelmed by this art.  This I actually like, the juxtaposition of the traditionally styled building with the modern statements.

Learning from this project?  Primarily to think about the frame size and shape in different ways and how linear framing compresses the perspective in an image.  My own practice is to move from the 3:2 of the SLR towards 4:3 5:4 or even 1:1, reminiscent of sheet film, however this opens a new strategy for framing.

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