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Panoramic prints - cropping your pics

Panoramic prints - cropping your pics - Pete explains a cost effective way of making panoramic prints with your inkjet.

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Words & pictures Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine

A few years ago the photographic industry created a new format called the Advanced Photo System, that we know as APS. While this had many new features to make photography easier for the mass market it had a few creative features for enthusiast photographers and one of the most interesting ones is the panoramic mode. This produces elongated pictures with 4x10in dimensions, which are excellent for landscape photography, but have been used by many for architectural shots too. The panoramic format was also added to some 35mm cameras and single-use cameras have a panoramic version.

Panoramic printsThe thing is its all a bit of a con and anyone can create panoramic pictures with existing 35mm cameras or indeed any camera format. All you have to do when taking the photo is use your imagination to crop off a strip of the photograph from the top and the bottom. This is exactly what an APS camera or 35mm with panoramic switch does by placing a mask over the top and bottom part of the frame and adding viewfinder masks. When its processed these areas appear as black strips on a normal 4x6in photo or 35mm transparency (left version of above illustration). If you request panoramic printing the exposed strip is enlarged onto 4x10in paper to give a better panoramic effect.

Some cameras now have lines that appear across the frame that you use as guides for positioning your subject within the frame. These can be used to help you shoot with a panoramic crop in mind. If you use an SLR with an interchangeable screen you could draw two guidelines across a replacement screen usinga fine glass marker or china graph pencil and use it as your panoramic option. This will also work with medium format cameras. Cropping a 6x6cm or 6x4.5cm negative would give you a similar size frame to a true 35mm panoramic camera, such as the Hassleblad X-Pan.

The problem we have when cropping a shot using our imagination and not masks is that the printing machine will not know which frames you want cropped. To get round this you have to make a note of which frames you want printed in panoramic format and tell the lab. Then you have to hope they follow the instructions and that you have allowed the right amount of space in the frame to get a good panoramic print.

The good news is that now we have digital imaging and home printing we can produce panoramic prints with ease. If you shoot on a film camera you can scan the photographs in and then create the panoramic prints from the scans, and with digital cameras your almost there.

Panoramic printsAll we need to do is crop the photo resize on the paper and print, and thats what we will explain now.
First thing to do is decide which part to crop to get the panoramic proportions. The good thing about using the whole frame is that you can take the panoramic strip from the middle, as a panoramic camera would, or from a section below or above the centre as I have done in this example. Notice also that I haven't used the whole width either.

Panoramic printsWith the picture open in the image editing program select the Crop tool and if your program allows key in the proportions of the crop (see the other article this month for a full explanation of how to use the Cropping tool. We will go for the processing labs 4x10in format. Now when you crop the proportions will remain with a 4x10 format. The clever thing here is that you can also set the resolution so when you crop you get the right size file ready to print using your inkjet printer. Ive set 240dpi which is fine for most printers. Click on the top left edge where you want the crop to start and then drag to the bottom right to select the area that will be cropped. Then hit the return key or click in the middle of the crop. You will be left with a 4x10 image. If its not quite right click on undo (Ctrl+U) and try again. If you are happy save the picture ready to print.

To make the printing cost effective you can lay two panoramic photos on one sheet of A4 paper. First crop your second picture and save. In this example I've chosen a portrait format picture and again cropped tighter than the full height. You have to be careful that you don't enlarge the photo above 100% when doing this though because the print could end up looking pixelated. View on screen at 100% to check for pixels.

Panoramic prints

Then use your programs print layout option to lay the two pictures, rotated into upright position, on a A4 print area. If you dont rotate the pictures select the horizontal paper option in your printing software.

If your program doesnt have an option to create a picture layout you can extend the canvas to the right of one of your photos so its 8x10in and copy and paste the second picture, moving it to fit the blank area on your extended canvas.

Panoramic prints

Panoramic prints

Now print the file and cut out the pictures. I used a Rotatrim rotary print trimmer to make this bit easier. This is a heavy duty model used to cut large card, but you can buy less expensive ones that are idea for inkjet print trimming.

Panoramic prints

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