Experiments in panorama

Albion street blue sky Old dee bridge Bridge cottage

Bandstand

Hello faithful readers! A bit of an unusual post today as it’s the first time I’ve posted multiple photographs for a while but hopefully the reasons will become apparent. As laid out in this blog I have still got loads to learn photography wise and this means I am always trying out new things that I’ve not tried before. Sometimes I stumble across techniques in photography magazines (like HDR), sometimes I look at what friends and contacts on Flickr and other photo sharing websites are doing and try and emulate them (as is the case here – take a bow Andy Howe). I have briefly dallied with panorama before but without overwhelming success so I though I would have a go. I was spurred on by a contact made via Flickr from a photo agency that expressed an interest in licensing some of my pictures of my home city of Chester.

Now I have taken lots and lots of pictures in Chester, always trying to avoid the obvious which is very difficult in a tourist city. Also, being a tourist city, surrounded by Roman walls, Chester is ALWAYS busy. Don’t get me wrong, I like people – indeed some of my best friends are people – but to a landscape photographer they can often be an unwelcome intrusion, especially in a busy city awash with shops and architecture. So how to capture my home city without the throngs? The answer, obvious really, was to get up at 5.30 on a Sunday morning and head into town as dawn broke. Using a tripod due to the low light I traipsed around taking pictures of Chester that I thought might appeal and it dawned on me (no pun intended) that this would be a good opportunity to try some more panoramic shots.

This involves taking 2 or 3 pictures using the tripod and very steady hands and splicing them together in Photoshop (which is actually a lot easier than it sounds). The above are some of the results and I must admit that I’m pretty pleased with the way they’ve turned out. Some of them will be familiar sites (such as the top image – an aborted version of which was my last blog post) but all capture a busy city devoid of people. It’s a bit like ‘28 Days Later’ but without the threat of infection. There is something very liberating in being out and about with the camera when the rest of the world is still abed. It was certainly very peaceful on the banks of the river Dee where three of the above pictures were taken. However, I was pretty amazed when moving up into the town to see how many people were still out from the night before, many shuffling around in a drunken haze which actually added to the 28 Days Later vibe (although I’m pretty sure that most zombies could move faster than the drunks I encountered).

I’m digressing again but it was odd to move from complete silence and tranquillity to raucous singing and being accosted by people looking for taxis. Now, I must admit to taking a drink myself but its been a long long time since I was up and drunk at 5.30 in the morning. When the licensing laws were relaxed I think the former government had grand plans about introducing a cafe culture to the UK (they failed to notice the rain and to take into account the continued rise of the alcopop) and whilst I applaud the change in terms of no longer having the ridiculous situation of every single pub and bar kicking people out at 11.30 I can’t help think that we have perhaps gone too far in the other direction.

See, what started out as a blog about panoramic technique has turned into something else as per usual. Getting back on the topic of photography, there is a lot to be said for getting out very early or very late and I hope that the photographs I took will be used. Certainly, it’s another way of getting my name ‘out there’ wherever that may be and if I sell some images then great. All proceeds will be going towards a new camera. Comments on any of the above welcome as always…

The next blog might be more interesting (I hope) and a bit more personal but it will probably mean rummaging about in the loft… See you shortly (honest)

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About Mark

I am a 43-year-old amateur photographer from Chester, Cheshire UK. I took up digital photograpy a couple of years ago after hitting 40. See it as my mid-life crisis. Unfortunately, unlike, say, forming a band, having a tattoo or buying a motorcycle I have come to realise that the particular hobby I have chosen as a means to escape the drudgery of the day job is probably one of the most expensive. On May 12th 2009 I spent a marvellous informative day with professional photographer Stewart Randall. This has prompted me to take my photography more seriously and, although I don't expect it to lead to a career change, maybe sell or license some of my images so that I can fund my hobby. I hope you like the images I post and please feel free to comment. All constructive criticism is welcomed. This blog will document my attempts to get to grips with the digital medium and see if I can get some wider recognition for my images. View all posts by Mark

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