Most people think of a panoramic photograph as being very wide and not too tall – imagine a picture of a sweeping vista like the Grand Canyon or the New York City skyline. But panoramic images come in many different formats, including vertical.
This month I’m showing a panoramic photograph of an old historic hotel in Brownsville, Texas, the El Jardin. It was built in 1927 and in subsequent years became one of the premiere places to stay back when the Rio Grande Valley was undergoing huge economic growth. Local land barons were striking deals with northern businessmen, and society and celebrity followed the money. Howard Hughes, Charles Lindbergh and Joan Crawford all stayed as guests of the El Jardin.
Sadly, the old hotel has fallen into complete disrepair and in recent years has been used mainly as a flop house for the homeless, undocumented immigrants and drug addicts. I heard a rumor that it was sold to someone in Dallas who has plans to restore it. I hope that happens as it is really a magnificent building!
The El Jardin is on a relatively narrow street. Even with the widest angle lens available you cannot get the entire building in one shot. But I wanted to show it in its entirety, free of any distortions, so I used a specialized technique. Utilizing a 200mm lens on a computer-controlled, motorized panorama head on my tripod, I captured 333 images then stitched them together using a panoramic stitching software.
By taking this many images with a long telephoto lens I was able to avoid the curved, horizontal lines that are common in panoramas over 90 degrees of view. The downside is that it gave me a huge, 20 GB file. I had to scale it down significantly in order to work on it.