Creative Reasons to Shoot with a Panoramic Camera

Panoramic cameras enhance not only your photographs but also your skills in storytelling and composition. Wider views give more space for experimental approaches. We talked to artists and photographers from around the globe who have experience shooting with panoramic cameras and they gave us some tips on how you can turn those still photos into cinematic masterpieces.

Photos by Ben Liu, Starla Dawn, Angela Izzo

Better Visual Storytelling with the Bigger Picture

The panoramic camera has a unique yet subtle way of telling its visual stories: the wide frame gives an omniscient view of the scene, letting the photographer play around the space. Well-thought and detailed backgrounds give more character and story. Photographer Ben Liu, who has already worked with the Sprocket Rocket before, has more expectations with the HydroChrome Sutton's Panoramic Belair camera to deliver these features and more:

"Now, HydroChrome is triple of a normal 35 mm film frame, so the details and content are richer and more exciting... A lot of the time when we are shooting landscapes with a wide-angle lens, we may not be able to capture the whole picture, there may also be a chance of distortion. But with a wide-view camera like the HydroChrome, its single lens can take in everything you want to be in your frame, with minimal distortion." — Ben Liu, photographer and founder of the B Shutter Workshop
Photos by Ben Liu

The key is finding balance with the space and the subject/s— both positive and negative. There’s also plenty of room to add textures via multiple exposures, so try that out sometime, too! There’s also more to the panoramic camera aside from shooting scenes. Photographer Starla Dawn finds many creative uses for the HydroChrome Belair camera, such as using panorama prints and collaterals for creative advertising:

“Honestly, I would think if shows were still happening this could be a ton of fun backstage, or county fairs, to capture people on stilts. I would honestly probably try to use it for some wacky band promo images or banners. You could do a fun road trip series with this camera too.” — award-winning artist and photographer Starla Dawn
Photos by Starla Dawn

Effortless Cinematic Look

Aside from a wide view and aspect ratio, panoramic cameras like the Sprocket Rocket amplify the cinematographic aesthetic — as if straight out of vintage cinema with the exposed sprocket holes.

“Actually, my relationship with the Sprocket Rocket was a lot different than any other Lomography camera I have used before because it lets me take wide-angled shots and lets me experience the objects I’m shooting in a cinematographic way.” — Hakan Bahar, fashion editor and owner of Monser Vintage Store Sprocket Rocket 

Play with techniques like vignetting and light leaks for a stronger retro aesthetic. Now all you have to do is to form, or better yet — find — the perfect mise-en-scène. Your view is wide enough to set up your stage. Give the best out of your compositional skills and you’ll be rewarded a shot straight out of the movies.

Easy and Practical Panoramics

Panoramic cameras remain faithful to the intended aspect ratio especially with how it takes up the frames of film. Lomography’s panorama cameras are designed for fuss-free handling. Whether you’re shooting something up-close or far off, their quality is constant.

“It was so easy to shoot with the Sprocket Rocket camera. The position of the aperture and shutter speed on the lens is very well adjusted and very practical to use. In terms of focusing, I also get the result I wanted in both macro and endless shooting.” — Burcu Böcekler

This aspect of Lomography’s panoramic cameras lets the photographer focus on more important, creative aspects. Whether it’s the Sprocket Rocket, the Spinner 360° or the HydroChrome Belair, your mind and eyes are freer to experiment with framing and composition.

"..the place in which it shines for me is in street photography. Not only does it allow you to capture an extremely wide scene, but it also allows you to step away from the technical side and focus on what and where you are creating your images." — Jacob Carlson
“That’s a crazy camera. Seeing the results it seems like you can’t go wrong. Perfect for me. I’ll be shooting a lot with that. Also a great conversation piece!” — Tchad Blake
Photos by Jacob Carlson and Tchad Blake

3 P’s: Perfect Panoramic Portraits

Portraits in panorama are quite underrated. The panorama format adds more detail to the photo, rendering shots of people even more pronounced.

“When I think panoramic cameras, I envision wide scenery type photographs. I didn’t realize how cool portrait shots can look with the Sprocket Rocket. I wish I took more photos of people. So my advice is don’t stick to one category, try experimenting with different subjects.” — Richard Tang

It’s even an ideal format for creative group shots. No more blocked faces, or too compressed group shots. You get everyone’s full-blown details with a panorama camera. Lomographer Adi a.k.a. adi_totp believes the Spinner 360 camera is perfect for quirky and memorable group shots, especially with the intimate “group hug” technique:

“Take the Spinner everywhere you go! During lomowalks, you can do the “group hug” technique. You can take photos of literally everyone! It’s like a family portrait in a 360° version. You can squeeze everyone in just one frame – that’s the perk of using the Spinner! That feature really helps me during holidays with my friends.” — adi_totp
Photos by Adi and Richard Tang

For Perfect & Endless Blends

Consider the panorama format like a single, endless canvas that you can paint on. Applying techniques like double and multiple exposures, and EBS easily create seamless stitches of images and elements. Analogue and fantasy have never been this easy!

“The Sprocket Rocket is my new favorite. Had no idea how the film was going to come out and was blown away! It gives me a new type of spontaneous layered effect, and the sprockets exposing is super sexy.” — Angela Izzo

You can do it with an LC-Wide as well — by simply taking out “half-frame” from the camera and switching the LC-Wide to half-frame mode. Play around with different angles, techniques like long exposures, multiple exposures, use flash gels and different films to pump up your experiments. Lomographer gaz further elaborated:

“Shooting panoramic photos with the LC-Wide is easy... Because the camera has such a wide-angle, you can get great images even close up. My advice would be to be patient as it takes a while to finish a roll (because you're using only a half-frame per shot). Just be creative and experiment with it. You will get some really great panoramics!” — gaz

Collaborative analogue projects also work really well with panorama, such as film swapping. There’s plenty of room for two or even more photographers to fill in the space of the frame.

Note that some film labs don’t scan special formats, so take advantage of your DigitaLIZA for extra measure, and you’ll be able to scan your negatives on your own with ease.

Photos by Angela Izzo, @gaz and @sobetion

What makes your panoramic camera extra special in your analogue adventures? Share your thoughts to us and comment below!

written by cielsan on 2021-09-13

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