While there doesn’t appear to be a codified, internationally recognized ratio for what constitutes ratios for panoramic photographs, 2:1 or greater seems to be generally agreed. Personally, I go with whatever looks right and I’ve no idea what the ratios of the images in this post are, but if you don’t agree that they are panorama’s then lets call them wide format photographs, as either way, you intuitively look at them in the horizontal plane (left to right or vice versa) rather than up and down. You can of course make vertical panoramas but that’s another story……………
There is a difference between composing deliberately for a panorama, and retrospectively cropping. Sometimes, like the Detroit Publishing Company, I use it to show the magnitude of a place, and this is often where I will merge multiple images that I took with the intent of joining together in post processing (see the first photo of Redcar, and below).
In the photo above I stitched multiple images together, but the middle third of the frame lacks interest as the oil refinery is too far away, so it doesn’t really work and emphasises the point that just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should!
Other times the shape of the scene dictates the crop. A mentor of mine gave me some great advice once about cropping – cover up the areas you want to keep and look at the areas you are wanting to crop and see if they are adding anything to the image. I crop like this when there is little interest at the top and bottom of the frame, or what is there is adding nothing to the picture.
I’ve never used a dedicated panoramic camera, but my Fuji X-T2 being a camera with an electronic viewfinder, allows you to select a 16:9 format view which is useful when composing panoramic style compositions although it’s maybe not as narrow a crop as I tend to do myself in Lightroom. What is useful in doing it in-camera is that you are fitting the composition to the frame, rather than creating a frame to fit the composition you want retrospectively. Of course, the actual elements in the composition and their relationship to each other are fixed, but cropping (of any sort) can limit the amount of elements in there and focus the viewers attention in a different way.
The industrial landscape of Teesside lends itself to this type of panorama, in my experience. It’s very flat and the industries are huge, which makes it best to view from afar. And when viewed from afar, the structures tend to be quite small, thus leaving a lot of sky and grass / foreground in the image, which are ripe for cropping so that the main point of interest isn’t lost.
But there again in this scene, the huts are both an interesting part of the foreground and also part of the story within the image, so a less severe crop brings them into the immediate foreground of the image.
The main areas of interest in these photographs weren’t too far away from the camera, so the crop isn’t too severe. The top image didn’t necessarily need to be cropped but I thought it was stronger with a crop, whereas the lower one had the river bank and river as quite prominent horizontal features so was perhaps a better contender for a panoramic crop.
My drone will take panoramas, and quite big ones at that. However, it’s an automatic process that stitches them all together, which isn’t ideal as I found that the main subject gets a bit lost, but fortunately it saves the component that can be stitched together in Lightroom or Photoshop. It took a bit of fettling to do so (the horizon was misaligned on either side of the chimney in the centre for some reason) but I got there in the end. A small image doesn’t really do this scene justice as you can’t really zoom in and view the detail, but you get the idea.