Constructed Realities – A digression into practical matters


the view from the new home of the bbc world service – inkjet print, 400 cm x 110 cm simon chirgwin, 2011, unique

This was commissioned by the BBC Global News W1 Move project and stitched together from 7 medium format negatives. When printed very large indeed it looked cracking, but of course, when it came to moving out of Bush House, it was too big to fit in my car to take it home. It may still be tucked away in a cupboard somewhere in Broadcasting House.

As an edition of 1 (with no AP) it could be worth a fortune some day, but I suspect it ended up in a skip.


I thought about this picture just now, because, looking at the work byCrewdson (and by Wall) for part five, I realised that a thing I would like to get my head round more is the practical “how to” information for collaging together of a single large image from many separate exposures.

Assembling the separate negatives for the W1 panorama into one strip was much harder than I anticipated, even though I used a a (good, expensive) “normal” lens to avoid distortions of straight lines and had the camera on a tripod. I had also got hold of a track, to allow the camera to move parallel to the final image plane rather than to pan around, but it wasn’t possible to set up the dolly and track in the space available on the day. Also the need to stop down for the central (south facing) section of the picture increased the depth of focus, which also altered the way the hard lines related to one another in the individual photographs.

Of course Crewdson (and Wall too?) uses a static camera and combines parts of individual large negatives to make a patchwork whole. I have also noticed that panoramas made by moving the camera often are made from strips taken out of the centre of portrait-aligned originals, missing out the top and bottom.

And then, there is the whole question of using lenses that are capable of movements (tilts and shifts) to control undesired perspective effects – mainly keeping a building’s verticals parallel to one another, when your viewpoint is lower than its centre –  when composing your frame.  Both Wall and Crewdson use a large format view camera where the ability to keep the film plane (and the lens) parallel to the subject is a given. For smaller cameras shift lenses such as the Nikkor PC (for perspective correction) range are available.

So, there are things I could explore here in the actual taking bit that would give me an easier job of stitching pictures together later…

1 thought on “Constructed Realities – A digression into practical matters

  1. Pingback: Constructed Realities: Rejected Ideas for Assignment 5 | Simon Chirgwin's Learning Log

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