Even though I’ve been distracted in recent years photographing with digital cameras and their traditional format, I always enjoy returning to view the world in the wide and skinny panoramic format.
I’m forced to see in different terms when my picture telling canvas is three times as wide as it is tall. Sure the rule of thirds aids my composition, but mostly I lead the viewer’s eye from left to right or vice versa, allowing them to roam along and discover the exciting corners of my narrow frame.
In China last Fall I used my Hasselblad XPan II for both street photography and landscapes. Here a morning commuter reads his morning newspaper outside the subway stop at the end of busy Nanjing Road in Shanghai.
Generations of street photographers have utilized rangefinder cameras in their work. The cameras are quiet and stealthy, and being unencumbered with all the latest auto everything, micro processors and super telephoto lens, your mind is clear to really make photographs. I do utilize the XPan center weighted aperture priority auto exposure, and the motorized film transport frees up my thumb for hanging onto the camera.
This November landscape shot was captured at sunset in Sichuan, China, as we crested a 14 500 foot pass.
In panoramic the aspect ratio of width to height is at least 2 to 1, with 3 to 1 being my favorite. The XPan is 2.6 to 1. Any wider than three times the height, you have difficulty viewing in traditional display prints or in print publications, however on the web very wide aspect ratios work well in virtual reality applications.
On an earlier China trip several years ago the XPan street credentials help me capture this brick yard worker
Having E-6 color transparency film processed is a challenge now, with not one single South Florida lab reliably running it. I now express ship film to BWC Photo Imaging in Dallas, much more complicated and expensive than just a few years ago when two hour turn around at more than a dozen Miami labs was routine.
I love the advantages of digital and have never looked back since switching from film for assignments in 2006, yet for quietly capturing those wide and skinny photos of people, I’ll stick with old fashioned film and my Hasselblad XPan.