Re: [PanoToolsNG] Ending the Tyrrany of the Lens
Their's much insite in your post.. The lens and the camera have for years come with a set of rules and standards and this is an added element to see what new opportunities it will bring... Ah...creative minds at work...
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2010 8:05 AM
Subject: [PanoToolsNG] Ending the Tyrrany of the Lens
A little essay on the future of photography.
Until recently, if one wanted to do photography, one had to accept the "tyrrany of the lens" (David Hockney's phrase) as there was simply no other way to manipulate photographic images except to put them through lenses. Some few pushed the lens to its limits by using view cameras and rotating panoramic cameras, and making anamorphic lenses (culminating in the Imax lens, which has 5 separate focal lengths!). But most photographers stayed within boxes designed by camera manufacturers, as indeed there was nothing else they could easily do.
That has now changed. The technology that stitches panoramas in fact does something more fundamental: it replaces the lens with software. The first stage of stitching liberates the image from the lens that recorded it, leaving an ideal spherical image. The last stage projects that spherical image onto a flat surface by any rule you like, including rules that mimic actual lenses; but more important, you can now "take" your picture with all sorts of impossible "lenses", or project it into an impossible space. It is to be expected that many will abuse this new freedom by creating wild and ill-conceived images; but I believe the same freedom makes possible a dramatic expansion of the photographic vision, that will bring the art of photography closer to the art of painting.
I am talking about still photography, of course. Film makers have always struggled harder and more successfully to free themselves from the tyrant lens, inventing all sorts of optical "special effects" and adopting digital image synthesis already 20 years ago as the best means to expand the possibilities. Today's action films are more than 50% computer generated, however the images are highly realistic, and the source of that realism is largely photographic images of real things that have been incorporated into the computer renderings.
Panoramic photography, like view camera photography, rewards a systematic and calculated approach. Choosing the right point of view is fundamental of course; I often consider that for days or weeks -- often while waiting for the right light to appear. Then one has to be sure to cover the field completely, with properly exposed photos, without too much traffic across the boundaries... Some people have a genius for hand held spherical snapshots (Inaki Rezola, Jook Leung, Ayrton Camargo,...) but most of us can't do that.
But now it is feasible to just put on a fisheye and snap away. With Panini, or the latest Hugin and PanoTools, one can convert those snaps to perspective views, far wider than anyone could photograph in the past. This capability will no doubt find its way onto the mass market before long.
-- Tom Sharpless
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