By Kristin Prelipp
When I first started photographing seriously in the late 1980’s I was shooting film. I had a 35mm camera and a medium format, twin lens reflex Yashicamat camera. The medium format film was very attractive to me because the print quality from such a large negative was amazing, when compared to little, old 35mm. Also, the larger cameras were so clunky and difficult to use, that it forced me to slow down and really contemplate what I wanted to shoot. This is a good change from my normal Speedy Gonzalez pace. In 2003 I switched to digital photography, happily tearing out my darkroom and selling off my Bronica camera gear for a fraction of what it originally cost me. I love digital photography, but I have missed that impeccably sharp print quality.
Now, I shoot with a Canon 35mm digital cameras using the RAW format. So each resulting image file is 51 MB or 17.28” by 11.493” at 300 dpi. You can make really nice, large prints from these. But I have found a way to cheat and get a HUGE file in certain situations. I call them panos, or panoramas.
Let me give you an example. I spent a week on Fripp Island in South Carolina. On our street there was a marsh that was host to a large gathering of egrets. I normally see these elegant, white birds alone or maybe in a pair. So for me it was exciting to see so many together! I could have taken one image of them and then cropped it to a long, skinny shape, or a horizontal panorama. But that would reduce the file size from 51MB to 25MB and the print quality would suffer. So I put my camera on a tripod and took a series of photos scanning the scene from left to right. I usually do this two times, back and forth. Then I downloaded the images into my computer and selected five that covered the whole scene. I color corrected them so they all had the same hue and exposure. Now it is time to photomerge!
Look at the images in Adobe Photoshop Bridge. Select all images (crt + a) and click on Tools < Photoshop < Photomerge. A photomerge dialogue box will come up. I usually select AUTO to see if Photoshop can do a good enough job for me. If the panorama comes up looking crazy I will try again with the other options. Interactive Layout is good if you want total control. But in the case of the beautiful egrets, the auto option worked perfectly. I cropped the image and flattened it and now it is all ready to be sent to the lab for a HUGE print. The actual print size is 53 by 10 inches long!
Below are some examples of other panoramas I have created using this method:
The panoramic photograph was taken at the wedding reception for Julia Lacy and Jesse Gaylord at Bay 7 in Durham, North Carolina. This gigantic reception site can only be accurately capture with a panorama. What a cool space!
The wedding of Elissa Flynn to Sean McClure had sooo many extraordinary things about it. Their wedding day, was a beautiful, sunny day. They had scheduled a bagpiper to usher in the guests to The Duke Chapel. But, through some sort of miscommunication, two showed up and both happily played. Elissa swooped in at the last moment prior to the ceremony, entourage in tow. Usually when a bride is late she is flustered and apologetic. But with this lovely lady, she brought a sense of happiness and relaxation as if she arrived just at the perfect time, which of course she did!
This was taken when my youngest, Leo, was just a baby. Oh, how they loved this sprinkler! This image is actually 8 images merged together. In the photograph below, Leo is 8 and is patrolling the yard with his rubber band gun.
Above, every year Carolina Performing Arts throws a preview gala so their biggest supporters can have a sneak peak of the season to come. It is always amazing to see what the talented theatre staff come up with. Below is another gala by Carolina Performing Arts in which they turned the seating area into a dining room.
This sunset panorama was taken at a pasture near my home. It was too breathtaking to capture in just one frame!
Cleopatra is the white cat in the tree. She is the boss of our house and is very nosy. While I photographed these sweet sisters feeding the fish in the pond she just had to look on.
This is a merging of just two photos. I was working with the staff of Chapel Hill and Durham Magazines on this day to photograph the cover of their annual TASTE issue. From left to right we have staff photographer Briana Brough, Creative Director Kevin Brown and Editor Andrea Cash.
A few years back I did a year-long photo story for Carolina Performing Arts. This was the performance of puppeteer Basil Twist. You can see the orchestra pit at the bottom of the frame.
Pamela Doty, far right, and her father wait for her wedding party to enter Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at her wedding to Steven Braker. You can see Sally Oakley, the wedding planner, keeping everyone straight for the processional.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, CONTACT KRISTIN PRELIPP AT KPO PHOTO.