Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

Photography is a funny thing. It has always been trying to legitimize itself as a capturer of reality, a preservation of the world as it actually was. This is never really the case, although photography can be used for this purpose.

One technical challenge for photographers (and camera makers) has been to build the machinery (the hardware and software) to capture all of the photons coming from a scene, and turning those photons into a picture that “looks realistic”. This is extremely difficult.

Some people, sometimes called “artists” turn this concept inside out and use photography as a medium of expressing some internal vision rather than a physical scene. You know the photographer has succeeded when you don’t even know that you’re looking at a technical achievement that lessor purveyors of the craft would have failed at. That’s what I think when looking at this lovely panorama by Ruediger Kottmann.

http://www.360cities.net/javascripts/krpano/krpano.swf
Trier – Atrium Porta Nigra in Germany

What is not obvious here, because it has been done masterfully, is that the darker and lighter parts of this panorama probably could not have been captured in a single exposure – cameras can’t do that (yet). You can’t click the camera on any scene and expect the brightest sun, clouds, etc. and the darkest shadows to all have nice definition and texture – it just doesn’t work that way. Take a picture of a window in a room sometime – you’ll get a nice exposure of the room, or what is outside, but not both at the same time.

So, nice job Ruediger. You have hidden your tracks and made something natural-looking, which is always the hardest part.

One thought on “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

  1. Yes, this one is very well done.

    I think he must have used Exposure Fusing rather than the “traditional” HDR technique, right? That’s why it looks so real…

    I spent quiet some time on this panorama (http://www.360cities.net/image/glendalough) to get it look “realistic” too. It was an overcast day, and your “correct” exposure would either have produced black ground with detail in the sky, or correctly exposed ground and blown-out white skies…

    Like

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