The Insides of Trains and Dangling from Cranes – Interview With Pano-Legend Willy Kaemena

Here’s the next of our interviews. After Richard Chesher and Nick Spirov I’m interviewing Willy Kaemena today, a 360 Cities PRO member who’s been with 360 Cities from the very beginning.

How did you start with panoramic photography?

My interest in photos which were able to show more than  the normal view was already there when I  got my first  camera at 12 years of age, when I glued several pictures together to get a wider view.

Do you remember your first 360 panorama?

Sure I remember my very first 360 panorama. It was back in February 1997 when I bought my very first digital camera – a Ricoh DC2 which I  still have. At that time I lived  in Pakistan. QTVR had recently been invented  and I was eager to make  my first interactive  QTVR. I  “stitched”  the photos manually in a  picture editing application and used a free utility by Apple to get the actual QTVR . I was impressed because it worked.

GCR Dome Car

How did you discover 360 Cities?

In April 2007 I was approached by “somebody” called Jeffrey Martin from Prague. At that time I lived and worked in Syria and he asked me if I would be willing to extend his Prague 360 site by adding more cities / countries like Syria and Portugal where I lived prior to Syria. I loved that idea to have panoramas  geo-tagged on an interesting and promising website. So I provided  my first panoramas of Syria for the 360cities site through a slow dial up internet connection.

How much of your time do you spend taking panos? And why? What do you do for living?

My  main job never had anything to do with photography. I worked for more than 30 years  as an engineer for a big German company. Most of those years I worked  abroad in many interesting countries. But even for my work I could use in the last 10 years panoramic photographic images, as they are the right vehicle to put somebody in a remote place as he would be there himself.
Horse Carriage (Kalesa) in Philippines

Since my retirement I make even more panoramas as I have more time and  I am able to travel a bit. I prefer to take panoramas instead of normal photos. Panoramas  have the advantage that they show “all” and you capture even things  which might not have had any importance at the moment when the picture was taken. An example could be any cityscape or landscape  taken over a couple of years.

What is the craziest  panorama you’ve ever taken? Or had most fun taking?

In the last  7 years I have made about 3000 panoramas and some of these were surly crazy, stunning or surprising.

I could recall a few:

– Taking a panorama in a gigantic pitch-dark huge exhaust duct of a power plant. I  set the  camera on “bulb”  and painted light by means of a strong torchlight. The result was unpredictable but amazingly good.

– Making panoramas of inaccessible inside parts of huge turbines and other machinery through any available opening.

– Making panoramas from elevated positions like baskets dangling from huge 400-ton cranes 100m above the ground.

Were these for your work?

I worked as a Construction Manager on these sites and had access to all parts of the project. The use of panoramas was a special means of communication with the project office at the headquarters of the company.
Deluxe Sleeper in Singapore

What’s the future of panoramic photography in your opinion?

The future of panoramic photography is quite bright. Looking back  7 years, it was a specialty of a couple hundred  geeks in the world struggling with awkward software and expensive cameras and a few available fisheye lenses. Today there is  a whole bunch of suitable software on the market, cameras are a lot better and much cheaper. Now panoramic photography is almost mainstream and done by countless photographers.

Where have you NOT been? where would you like to go?

Continent wise I have not been in Australia and Africa.

You seem to be publishing hundreds of panos of trains to 360 Cities. Why trains?

My whole life I was connected somehow to trains and we traveled always by train. With the first oil crisis 1973, it became obvious that the car was not the vehicle of the future. The  future can be only sustainable by public transport and especially by trains. Regarding trains and panoramas, you can find any number of normal photos of trains from the outside but hardly anything useful from the inside. Here is where the advantage of panoramic photos becomes obvious, as there is no better way to show the inside of trains than in this way. I think it is important to preserve our heritage of  train carriages by taking panoramas before it is too late and these cars are scrapped and replaced by better material.

Thanks for the interview!

Sign up for 360 Cities to get started with panoramic photography!
Singapore Flyer in Singapore

2 thoughts on “The Insides of Trains and Dangling from Cranes – Interview With Pano-Legend Willy Kaemena

  1. Hello! Is it Okay if I ask something kinda off topic? I’m trying to view this page on my new iPad nonetheless it will not show up properly, do you may have any options? Thanks in advance!


  2. @darts: The embedded images don’t work on the ipad because the Flash technology is not working on the ipad. However the original images hosted on 360 Cities do work. What you need to do to view these images is to click on the link below each embedded image. It will take you to the image page on where you can view the image on the ipad. I know it’s not ideal, but so is the support for Flash on the ipad. We’ll need to address this issue soon.


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