By September 2003, Michael Hallett will have worked intermittently over
33 month period on the Bullring photography project and will have made
between nine and ten thousand individual photographs. These will provide
the basis for a contemporary archive; and a major exhibition and book
for publication to coincide with the retail opening of the Bullring.
Michael uses conventional and digital cameras to create a panoramic construction
consisting of between 5 and 35 or more individual images giving an angle
of view between 180 and 360 degrees. The photographer and viewer become
surrounded by the landscape, with each panorama offering a more involved
sensation of what it was like to be there. These images see their subject
from the inside looking out, extending an awareness of time and space.
Twelve of these have been produced as one metre panoramic constructions provide
a celebratory look at the construction of the new Bullring. These images illustrate
the story of the growth of Europes largest city centre retail led regeneration
project - the Bullring provides more than 110,000sqm of prime retail space,
with new transport links and parking improving access for 7.2 million shoppers.
Covering more than 40 acres and a cost in excess of 500 million. Presided
over by the Rotunda and St. Martin in the Bull Ring Church, these images provide
a unique insight into the very heart of Birmingham. Anyone visiting this year's
Focus on Imaging exhibition may have seen the display.
observes a subject and freezes it in a moment of time, in what Henri Cartier-Bresson
called the decisive moment. The camera frames the picture and allows
the viewer to see the image normally within a 50 to 55 degree angle of view. A
panoramic construction consisting of between 5 and 35 or more individual images
gives an angle of view between 180 and 360 degrees. The photographer and viewer
become surrounded by the landscape with each panorama offering a more involved
sensation of what it was like to be there.
A conventional photograph is viewed from the outside looking in. A panorama
is seen from the inside looking out extending an awareness of time and space.
Metaphorically the panoramic construction colours in what the single photograph
can only see in black & white. It is the difference between being a voyeur
or being a participant.
Many of the original
images that make up a digital construction are made on a digital camera
then manipulated and constructed as a panorama in Adobe Photoshop. More recently
the images are being made with a Casio QV-5700. With concern over archival integrity
of the digital image, greater permanence is achieved by using silver based materials
to duplicate the digital output. This involves the use of an Olympus OM-2 camera
with a range of lenses. This process has the flexibility of allowing the single
photograph to be taken and placed on file for future generations.
Fujifilm Superia X-tra ISO400 colour negative film is the most frequently used
sensitive material though under poor light and weather conditions Fujicolor
Press ISO800 colour negative film is an excellent alternative. Ways of improving
the archival permanence of the digital image, on CD, DVD or equivalent and in
print form remains high on the agenda.
An original panorama is constructed as a high quality TIFF document normally for
exhibition purposes at 100cm width then enlarged or reduced in size for publication.
camera has a limited field of view. From the earliest days photographers sought
to expand this restricted field of vision by creating panoramic images. The
most common methods were to make a succession of overlapping negatives and then
paste together a corresponding sequence of prints, to use a rotating camera
with moving plates or films or simply use a camera with a wide angle lens.
Although Michael Halletts images share their format with their predecessors,
they use significantly different technology and expand upon what has gone before.
The images captured by a digital camera are transformed into panoramic constructions
using a design software package and then output through an ink jet printer.
The past and present are freely intermixed, expanding both the content and the
time represented in the completed image.
The visual solution of how to describe these amazing man-made edifices became
the panoramic construction. The creative use of computer imaging programmes
remained further along the learning curve. Now it seems inconceivable that Photoshop
had been available for almost a decade and had not been seen as a tool to place
individual photographic images over one another in layers as distinct from stitching
and merging the images into one another.
About the author
An acknowledged academic, writer and photographic historian, with his development
of the panoramic construction Michael Hallett MPhil FBIPP FRPS FCSD returns
to his original career path of photography. He has recently completed a biography
on Stefan Lorant, the pioneering editor of Picture Post, and is currently writing
an outline history of late-20th century photography. He can be contacted at