Vertically challenged / by Mario Mirabile

A friend who recently moved into a new house has a space on the wall she'd like to fill. She asked if I had anything decorative that might fit the bill, and I thought sure, why not. Any opportunity to have a new audience admire my work is not to be passed up lightly. The only problem is that the blank wall in question requires a piece in the order of one and a half metres long to fill it. And we're not talking a nice canvas to mask any lack of resolution and imperfections in the original - a framed photographic print is required. To top it all off, the space is highlighted by a row of spotlights to expose any problems with the work.

Don't get me wrong, I'm flattered and excited by the request. The chance to be hung so prominently is a very nice prospect. It's just that my best camera, and most cameras, will have trouble producing an image which will stretch to 120-130 cm and hold up to such close scrutiny. One solution is to use a stitched panorama, where multiple overlapping images are merged to create a single, higher resolution image. Another possibility is more than one image on the same theme in the same frame. So, today I tried something new. Working on the theme of Melbourne's laneways, I thought I'd try some vertical panoramas. Most panoramas stretch along the horizontal plane, but these extend in the vertical plane, which suits the laneways' form well. 

These are just test shots really, to see how well the vertical stitching works. I'm happy with the results, but as to whether the idea ends up gracing a wall, only time will tell.

Tech Talk
I wasn't aiming for a finished product here. The light was poor, the shots were hand held and I'd prefer to tackle the job when there aren't so many people about. People certainly add to the atmosphere, but too many makes it difficult to stand around blocking traffic (particularly with a tripod) waiting for the "right" combination of humans in the shot. There's certainly things I'd do differently next time I try this - a tripod, longer lens to reduce geometric distortion, smaller aperture and a closer attention to differential exposure over each of the frames. I had concerns as to how well the stitch would work given the relatively severe perspective changes as the camera was angled upwards, but Photoshop has handled the job well.

Each panorama was stitched from 3 landscape images. Using a 12 megapixel camera, I've ended up with files which range from 16-32 megapixels, which gives me greater flexibility when it comes to printing. Given that, my mind spins as to what's possible with a 36 megapixel full-frame!

Olympus E-30, Zuiko Digital 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 lens.