The Stitching dilemma

 

I haven’t had much opportunity to get out and take photos lately due to being ill, work being very busy and just generally having stuff on my plate. This down time has provided me with a chance to reflect on the development of my photography skills and ultimately the images I am capturing.

 

My passion is ultimately in landscape photography and panoramic landscapes at that. Without having the money to afford a true panoramic film camera one must stitch digital images to create a panoramic image. The thing I have found hard with digital stitching is imagining the composition of the image without access to a single view finder and instead relying on what you see through 8 or so different images. I feel this makes the medium much much harder than taking single image where everything you see through the viewfinder is what you get in the final photo.

 

About 6 weeks ago I made a conscious decision to really slow my photography down and really think about the images I was capturing instead of getting all excited and just snapping away happily when presented with a great scene. The 2 biggest changes I have made as a result has been focusing on getting as much right in camera and a decision to reduce the number of stitched panorama’s I was taking in an attempt to obtain better compositions and ultimately more powerful images. I guess you could say that because of my love for panoramic landscapes I had gotten a bit caught up in the stitching craze, as lately anyone and everyone with a digital camera is stitching several images together to create an image several times wider than the standard 2:3 format of digital. By focusing on stitched images I felt that it was having an adverse impact on my photography as I was very often capturing a poorly composed and relatively average image. I am amazed looking on the various photo sites on the web how many people are creating these panoramic images just because they can. There seems to be very few people posting photos who actually do it well. Yes it creates a nice wide perspective and yes it creates a much higher resolution image but at the cost of the quality of the image content which in most cases does not even warrant being printed.

 

I therefore decided to create a new work flow for when I am out taking photos. I still obviously seek out good light and then find a composition that works, however now I nearly always focus on getting a great single image shot first up. To me a great lower resolution image is always better than an average high resolution image. This is especially true given today’s technology which allows you to blow digital images up a lot smoother than in the past. Then if there is enough interesting light left and I have exhausted all single shot image possibilities I will look at a panoramic composition. I find that whilst I would love to be capturing inspiring panoramic vista’s that sell by the hundreds my skills are not up to it yet and therefore I am better off focusing on improving my single image capture skills before moving on to more complex situations. This is not to say that I don’t capture stitched panorama’s anymore I am just drastically reducing the number I take.

 

By sticking to this over the past 6 weeks I am capturing much better images, in fact what I believe to be my best work to date. By getting much better at taking single image shots I think it will eventually lead to a better understanding of what makes a good image to which I can carry over into panoramic image taking.

 

I am in no way saying that people should stop doing things they enjoy but for me personally as an aspiring landscape photographer it is what I feel I had to do to move my skills to where I want them to be.  

 

Has anyone else had this dilemma with digital stitching?

 

Finally to check out some Aussie’s who do digital panoramic stitching well check some of my favorite sites for this type of photography. These guys range from amateur through to Pro;

 

Christian Fletcher

Kirk Hille

Matt Lauder

Flemming Bo Jensen

Beau Mitchell

Spool Photography

Sean Stak

Jamie Paterson

Dylan Fox

 

Thanks for visiting

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~ by michaelolive on March 18, 2009.

6 Responses to “The Stitching dilemma”

  1. Hi Michael,

    I hear ya. I have been thinking along the same lines as you for the last week or so. I haven’t shot a stitched image for a couple of weeks now, not that I have been out much, and am finding it fun to go back to how I started out taking photos – as single frames.

    I have decided to concentrate on single frame images for at least a little while, like you, and I think Jamie Paterson is doing the same.

    PS. Thanks for the plug 🙂

  2. Hey Beau,

    I am really enjoying shooting single frames at the moment and not having to worry about stitching etc. I saw that Jamie was doing the same thing and I think you can see an improvement in his photos as well. Hopefully it will be beneficial

    Mate I am loving your work so keep it up.

    Cheers

  3. Hi Michael, I couldn’t agree more with your observations regarding stitched images. Sure they look stunning if you can print them big enough but they do seem to miss somthing from the composition side of things sometimes.

    In my opinion, it’s like everything in life, theres a time and a place for it. Some scenes just scream out for an enormous stitched panorama, whilst others need the subtlety of a carefully composed shot.

    If we all had our own galleries and demand for 100″ prints like Christian does then more stitching would be the way to go (though I think Christian still does alot of car window shooting too 🙂 ) but until then it’s important to keep things in perspective and go at our own pace with work works best for the scene in front of us.

    By the way, I love some of your images Michael, keep up the good work.

  4. Thanks for the comment Dave. I think you hit the nail on the head, a major skill of being a good photographer is being able to sum up the scene in front of you and assess what will work best and portray what it is you are wanting to portray to the viewer. Whilst it would be nice to be able to print everything poster size it is just not reality for a lot of us. I am happy to plod along at my own pace and look to you guys for inspiration along the way.

    Thanks for visiting.

    Cheers

  5. Hi Michael, couldn’t agree more. I think with single frame images you can spend more time focusing on the composition and getting it just right. Sometimes just that little move to the left or right can make all the difference. It’s harder to get this just quite right when stitching as you can’t quite tell exactly where something will appear in the frame and what distortion you will get.

    Seeing you’re in Canberra you should also have a look at some of Scott Leggo’s work. He’s up that way and does some good pano images that you would probably like as well.

    Keep up the good work, and best of luck with the new ‘single frame’ approach.

  6. Thanks for your comment Eric, I will have to look Scott up as I had never heard of him. Cheers Mike.

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