Steve took a picture of me today (right) while I was setting up to shoot a panorama. He published it to Facebook. A friend of his said I looked like Ansel Adams. (I’ll take that compliment though completely undeserved.)
Another friend of his thought I was setting up to shoot (kill) some poor living creature (called a pano?). No, no, no! The only shooting I ever do is with a camera![Art, you asked about this earlier. Here you go:] So, for those who do not know what a pano is, it’s an abbreviation (probably a slang one) for panorama. A panorama is a special kind of image made up of many images. It’s typically shot with a special kind of precision tripod head using a 180º fisheye camera lens on a camera with a full size image sensor. The finished product often is made up of 10 images: 6 are shot pivoting 360º around the center of the camera image sensor, 1 is shot straight up and 3 are shot in various positions focusing on the bottom (straight down). The images are then all stitched together into a sphere using computer software. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but that’s the overview. There are also many, many ways to do this.
Basically, the person looking at the panorama (which is about to be you in this case) is standing in the middle of the image sphere and can look anywhere (up, down, right, left, all around) in 360º space. You can zoom in and out. It’s not a perfect viewing experience (The image distorts on the sides as it spins around.) because you are obviously looking at a spherical image on a flat surface (the computer monitor), but for all practical purposes, it’s a much more immersive and interactive experience than viewing the standard flat picture. The math for the optical illusion involved is really impressive.
So anytime you see a play button like the one below, click on it. Doing so will open up a new window and display a panorama (pano) complete with music. If you have a decent size monitor, click on the full screen button in the top left of the image. You can just watch it spin around. You can also take control over it and spin it in any direction you wish to see, zooming in and out at will. These even play on iOS devices like your iPad or iPhone. In fact, on those devices, you look around the image by tilting and moving your device in the direction you want to look. Pretty cool, really. Here is a link to all of the panos (over 75) I’ve posted over the years. Sometimes the play buttons look really boring, like this one. Sometimes they look really intriguing.They always open to another world that is hopefully worth your visit.
I learn something every time I shoot a pano. This time I learned, among other things, that shooting a pano on top of a very jagged rock with no flat surfaces hurts your feet both then and for hours afterward!
Here is the pano I was setting up to shoot today when Steve took my picture. He knowns I’m terribly camera shy (I actually hate having my picture taken.) and sneaks around all the time shooting me! The area of complete fog is the Pacific Ocean. We’re standing on a ridge on Mount Tamalpais. The famous Stinson Beach is hidden engulfed in the fog below. And yes, as has always been the case when I’ve been on Mount Tam, it was hotter than hell! At least I was ready for it this time.