A panograph is like a low-tech panorama, but as we show in our latest Photoshop Elements tutorial, its characteristic fragmented, home-made look can produce some fascinating pictures.
What is a Panograph?
Regular panoramas are good for photographing scenes which are too wide to capture with a single shot. With today’s photo editing software it’s possible to assemble the individual frames so that the joins are invisible. But in a ‘panograph’, there’s no attempt to hide the joins. Indeed, the fact that the picture is made up of individual photos is celebrated.
It sounds like a technically inferior way to take panoramas, but panographs turn the scene into a kind of impressionistic mosaic, with fragments of life passing before the lens in a series of changing moments.
Buildings don’t quite join up, pedestrians are chopped in half or appear in more than one frame, and there’s so much more to occupy your eyes as you unravel the fractured details in the scene.
Panographs are easy to shoot. JPEGs are fine, auto exposure is ideal, and auto White Balance is too. With a regular panorama, you need to shoot every shot on manual to be sure there are no variations in tone or colour between frames, but here all these variations are welcome. Some panographers even modify individual frames to exaggerate the differences.
There are two things you need to do to get your panograph right. You shoot a scene as a series of overlapping images and it’s crucial that you don’t leave any gaps.
If you do, your software will have a hard time matching them up later, and while you can do this manually, it’s laborious. You also need to stop your software from trying to produce a ‘perfect’ panorama.
We’re using the Photomerge tool in Photoshop Elements, and there are some specific settings you need to use to make this panograph effect work.
Both of these things are simple to get right, though. Panography is such an interesting technique – it’s a low-tech approach that delivers fascinating images.
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