Panorama — Or How to Make a Photo That’s “Just Too Big”

Ewan Grantham
Feb 25, 2018 · 3 min read

Take a look at the photo below (if your browser and video card will let you):

Panorama taken at White Sands National Monument — “Small” Version

This is a 1/9 size version of the original Panorama — A 46 meg behemoth taken using 11 images from my camera (Panasonic FZ1000). A photo that, when making any change in Lightroom, tends to make the program freeze up and occasionally crash. In its original form, it is almost impossible to upload. Anywhere. I had not realized that even photo sites will often refuse to accept an image greater than 20 megs in size.

Because of this the original image is virtually impossible to steal. Because it’s virtually impossible to make publicly available. Imagine a piano resized to 10 times it’s normal width and length. Even made of much lighter material, you are unlikely to be able to move it into or out of a room without something getting broken.

Yet you can imagine how different notes might sound with that much space around the strings, and that many more keys stretching the limits of musical chords. With the photo above you can imagine that you could easily use it, if you could print it, to fill a couple walls in a room.

OK, so what’s the point?

Mainly that when you are considering your requirements, you might want to give a little more thought as to what the big end might look like. It may seem absurd to need to be able to manipulate a 45 meg image file, or to make enough storage available to put it online. And yet, there is no doubt that reducing the image to work on a site is removing some of the quality. Wouldn’t it be nice to sort of “swim” in an image of this size, and to truly experience all the little details an image like this has to offer? With folks widely scattered around this area of the park (and a surprise about 1/3 of the way from the left hand side toward the back if you aren’t familiar with the neighboring area), having the full resolution image would be nice, don’t you agree?

Of course the other point is how it affects how I share an image. And not just me but many other photographers I imagine. The “usual” fix for something like this is not to reduce the size to allow the full image to remain together — but instead to chunk it up into digestible pieces. Sort of like a cinematographer who’s used to shooting in “VistaVision” and having to adapt to shooting Super 8. Yes, the decisions you make on what to show and what not to show might be stimulating all on their own. But when the world opens up like the view in my picture, don’t you think you’re losing something if you take it in smaller chunks? Wouldn’t it make the location itself seem a bit smaller?

Just a few thoughts I wanted to share. For your consideration as it were. Would love to hear what you think!

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