Photographic Image Quality:

These images illustrate a number of situations that may be encountered by photographers. In each case, the selection of sensor, lens, focus, exposure, and recording medium has influenced the results. In most cases, post-processing has also been employed to produce the final version of the image.

Studio lighting

Subject: Native American hoop dancers; see image at left (except on small screens). This is from an Arizona Highways workshop: studio flash was trigered from the camera; flash setup, pose, and camera settings were determined by the instructor.

Contrasty interior lighting, large static subject

Baldwin 2-6-2
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Subject: Baldwin 2-6-2 steam locomotive; this one is still in working condition at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, CA. Lighting is from the overhead skylights and from an open door behind the camera. There is some light reflected from a diesel locomotive to the left of this image.


Deep shade, running water

Fern Spring cascade
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Subject: Fern spring cascade, Yosemite NP, CA. This scene is easy to miss by the side of a busy road at the western end of the valley. Tripod legs were actually stradling the guard rail in some remaining snow.


Low-light action

Fiesta Noche del Rio dancers
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Subject: Dancers at the Fiesta Noche del Rio, San Antonio, Texas. Stage lighting, picture taken from audience seats that are actually across the river from the stage (with tour and dinner boats going by in between). Small/light "travel" camera kit that still can produce high-quality 16"x20" or larger prints.


Daylight action

Kids playing in surf
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Subject: Children playing in the surf, Newport Bach, CA. This was taken from the pier, thus the overhead view; it was pure luck to find this subject.



Panoramas are taken by revolving the camera, ideally around the lens' nodal point. A panorama generally consists of multiple images, stitched together in software. However, most mobile phones and even some recent high-end cameras offer a limited panorama capability with a single exposure (see example on the Phones page).

Static display

Most panoramas that we see are formatted in what is called a "cylindrical projection"—as if they had been printed on the inside of a cylinder and then rolled out flat for viewing.

My front balcony
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Subject: 180° view from my front balcony.

Dynamic display

Once a panorama gets much more than 180° wide, it becomes awkward to display as a single flat image, especially on a Web page. There are many plug-ins that allow the image to be seen interactively; this one is an open-source version from Evgeny Likov.

(Scan with mouse grab, mouse wheel, or swipe; arrow keys unfortunately don't work.)

Subject: 360° view of the park/playground in front of my house.

Beyond the cylinder

With rapid advances in technology, we are seeing some astounding panoramas that go far beyond what is shown here. There are 360° × 180° spherical images that allow you to look up and down in all directions; there are "giga-pixel" images that will zoom in on the smallest detail of a massive scene; there are "virtual tours" (think high-end real estate sites and Google street view). Not surprisingly, most of these require specialized development tools and skills.


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