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Fun with panoramic photography

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I've been having fun lately with a free iPhone app called Photosynth. It's an app for making panoramic photos.

And while I don't like the fact that the app shrinks your photos (it limits the size of the panorama, otherwise the phone wouldn't have enough memory to stitch all the photos together), but it does a tremendous job of making panoramas IF you know what you're doing. Meaning, when you rotate the camera for a panoramic photo, you need to keep the point where the light hits the (metaphorical) film stationary, you pivot the camera around that point - rather than keeping yourself in one place and moving the camera through the air. (Read up on parallax and you'll see what I mean).

Anyway, I went out with some French friends tonight for dinner, and before we went to a place called Aftersquat, an old squatters' house of artist that the city of Paris bought, renovated, and turned into a huge multi-level artists' workshop.  It's at 59, rue de Rivoli (get off the Metro at Chatelet and take the Rue de Rivoli exit, it's right across the street).  You can visit any day from 1pm to 8pm and just walk around and check out the place - there's art EVERYWHERE.

I was really liking the stairwell because, with all the colors, and some banners hanging down, it was more interesting than the run of the mill spiral stairway photo, so I shot some photos.

Then I decided to move to the other side of the stairs and see if the view appeared any different. It did.

Then I thought it might be fun to take a Hipstamatic photo of the stairwell, from the same position, using another app on the iphone.
I really like the Hipstamatic photo, it's interesting how it totally changes the same image, and thus the mood of the photo.

Then I decided to take a panoramic photo using the Photosynth app.  This got interesting because it's rather difficult to tell how the photo is going as you're taking it.  You really can't tell all that well if the app itself is getting confused by the scene you're presenting it.  What I mean by "confused" is exactly what happened when I developed the photo when I got home.

First, the "'good" panorama:

Do you see how a good panoramic photo can invite you into the space, and let you experience the location in a way that a regular photo can't?  What I like about photos like this, using the panoramic feature, is that you see what I see as a photographer, what my eye sees.  You get a sense of the motion, the color, the symmetry and the forms that caught my eye and made me want to snap the photo in the first place.

Now the "bad" panorama, that I kind of like:

Photosynth messed up the photo in the most wonderful way.  It got confused by the spiral stairwell and started turning it in on itself, with what I think is a great result (that's me at the bottom left in the green shirt). I'm forgetting the name of the guy, but it looks like one of those logically impossible drawings of the staircases that twist into each other forever (or like a staircase at Hogwarts).

And unrelated to the squatters' house, here's a panorama I took once I got home tonight to Chris and Joelle's neighborhood in Montparnasse.  It had just rained, and I love Paris in the rain, for photography at least.  The city shines all the more when it's wet at night.

So there you go with a walk-through of how I look at a photo, and how panoramic photography works, doesn't work, but sometimes still does even when it doesn't.

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