rock art panorama

Let’s Get Vertical

rock art panorama
Shoes, rock art, cloud

With the coming of age of digital imagery, there is no reason an image has to be any particular shape or even be a single image. Up on the Hill, it’s hard to keep to the classic rectangle that we are used to when looking at a painting or a photograph. That rectangle is just a metaphor for a window or a page in a book. Things on Tumamoc tend not to fit into that or any other box.

I think of the panorama as going back to the ancient scrolls, before the printed book. You slowly unroll them as you read. Or as you look at the pictures. The eye scans it differently than a page. One function of art is to allow the viewer to see something, or to see it differently, as if for the first time. The shape of the medium changes the message.

This vertical panorama is an experiment. I made this image from a series of photographs, all hand-held, improvised on site with an old Nikon Coolpix point and shoot digital camera. Back in my office, which is fortunately nearby and with lots of computing power, I blended and them together by hand, using masks and layers in Photoshop. I worked pretty quickly just to see if it would work. I’ll make a higher resolution image later. This is just the sketchbook version.

There is some very sophisticated software now for splicing multiple photos together, but I did this by hand. It’s a little like painting with photographs. I’m using what inspired me, what was in front of me at the time, but I can also do almost whatever I want with it.

There were 35 shots total needed to make this image and they didn’t all line up perfectly, being hand held. Also, the scene is changing a bit between the first and the last exposure. I kind of like that fluidity. It’s a record of a longer slice of time than a normal photograph. There were only 7 frames required to make up the basic montage, top to bottom, but the dynamic range was so great, looking west into the sun, that I bracketed up to two stops above and below the normal exposure for each piece of the puzzle. That’s 5 bracket shots for each frame.

Using High Dynamic Range image processing software, I could compress all that huge spectrum into something that would print or be visible on a screen. I wanted to see into all the shadows and not lose any of the highlights. Like in a painting.

This processing actually mimics how the human eye sees. It takes a few seconds, but our eye will adjust to an incredible range of dark to lights in a scene. And our eyes are always moving, creating an extremely high resolution image in our brain. I’ll have to research this, but our eye can take in at least twice the range of tones as a digital camera.

Not only that, but it’s my birthday today!

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