Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Panoramic Mastery

 The closest I get to making photographs in panoramic format is when I shoot 120 rollfilm in one of my old Kodak folders designed to use the long-discontinued 116 format. I have long thought it would be fun to use one of the swing-lens Kodak Pano cameras from the same era, but the prices for them has always been a bit beyond my comfort level.

 The recent revival of interest in the panoramic format has stirred my interest in doing more with the wide view, and several members of our New Mexico Film Photographers group have ably shown the way.  Most recently Bob Eggers has been posting panoramic pinhole images that are notable for their surprising sharpness, as well as showing a good eye for the potential of compositions that are at least twice the width of their height.

A recently published biography by Melissa Harris of Magnum photographer, Josef Koudelka, appears to devote quite a bit of space to his panoramic work.  I have not read the book yet, but the Aperture review somewhat surprisingly makes no mention of the photographer's Czech predecessor, Josef Sudek, whose career had many parallels to Koudelka's.

Sudek has long been a favorite of mine, so I got out two of the books I have that focus on his work during the first half of the Twentieth Century in Prague. I then went on to search references to Sudek on the web and was surprised when, not far down the list, I came to a link to a Photo.net post I had done on Sudek's panoramic work nearly twenty years ago.  That post sparked a nice conversation about Sudek's classic work, including a report from Prague by  poet Jorn Ake who,  just finishing a long visit to the city, provided some fine on-the-spot reporting on details of the great photographer's life, as well as a link to a good overview of a Kodak Pano model similar to that Sudek used.

I am looking forward now to an exhibition of historical panoramic prints from the Albuquerque Art Museum's photo archives which will run from March 30 to November 17, 2024.

Unknown Photographer, Bluher Farms, 1915, reproduction of a gelatin silver print, gift of unknown donor

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