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Panorama Pictures: The Frustration and Pleasure of Touring Into the Unknown

“Panorama images has truly been maxed out for years.” That’s what the previous tools supervisor of our native picture membership informed me round 1990. He was a lover of the notorious Cokin “tobacco gradient filter.”

As a younger photographer, I may hardly counter this with any arguments, however every thing inside me resisted agreeing. I merely couldn’t settle for this assertion in its generality.

I’d by no means have dared to dream the place my angle would lead me a few years later.


In September 2019, I used to be about to embark on my third journey to Siberia. I once more needed to {photograph} within the Altai Mountains for my mission “The Calligraphy of Nature“. Sadly, the time window out there for this tour step-by-step shrank to a few week as a result of work-related requirements, which meant the journey was about to be canceled.

The carbon footprint of the flight alone was out of all proportion to the time out there on location, to not point out the bills. Nonetheless, for the reason that media protection in Germany from and about Russia on this 12 months was once more very destructive, I felt an immense need to set straight these impressions — and what higher manner to do this than by visiting the nation? This need gave me the decisive impulse to dare to once more have a look behind the Ural this 12 months.

A salt lake within the vastness of the West Siberian Despair

Nonetheless, because of the little time out there, the journey needed to be rescheduled in order that I’d not must spend an excessive amount of time on the street. As a substitute of taking part in secure within the Altai Mountains with their fascinating and various mountain landscapes, I switched to the so-called “Altai Area” (Altai Krai).

I had touched on this space for the primary time 2 years earlier — at the moment utterly unaware of what awaited me there. It’s the japanese a part of the West Siberian Despair, a area that’s each unimaginably huge and unimaginably flat. The area isn’t very interesting for traditional panorama images until you wish to take a sequence of images which are repetitively characterised by an precisely straight horizon.

With a drone in my suitcase, issues after all seemed fairly totally different. 2 years earlier than I had then been in a position to take actually fascinating photos of rivers meandering like loopy and, surprisingly, additionally very summary photos of sediments on the shore of the big salt lake “Kulunda”. For 2019, I had reversed my priorities: I needed to {photograph} primarily the salt lakes that may be discovered on this panorama, and may I discover fascinating rivers, I’d after all embrace them as nicely into my schedule.

It’s possible you’ll legitimately ask how these motifs took place in my thoughts. The circumstances have been truly not that good:

1. I didn’t know anybody who had photographed right here earlier than and even much less anybody who had taken aerial images right here earlier than.

2. I didn’t know any guide or different publication on the topic.

3. Ultimately, I didn’t actually know something about this space. I solely had the photographs from Google Maps. However these stimulated my creativeness in a most intense manner.

As indicated above, I all the time needed to push boundaries in panorama images. Discovering new landscapes and views grew to become an essential a part of my very own artistic course of. A beforehand unknown space simply screams at me: “Come!”, and the extra barren this space might take a look at first look, the extra interesting the mission appears to me, even when there’s a larger threat of failure.

Fortuitously, I’m utterly free in my alternative of topics. The one factor I’m completely missing is time. Due to this fact I ought to attempt to use my little time out there for touring as successfully as attainable, within the sense of most nice output per day. But when I had to decide on between per week for instance in scenically undoubtedly magnificent Iceland (from the place I’ve seen many uniform photos of just about each waterfall and rock), or the identical period of time someplace far off the overwhelmed monitor, with out even a touch of what photos I’ll come again with after per week (probably none in any respect?), I’d all the time blindly select the journey into the unknown. In the end, I select the journey wherever my coronary heart takes me.

Faraway in Russia, Trying to find Topics

I needed to put in writing about frustration and pleasures when touring into the unknown as a result of these two phrases manifested themselves in a very intense manner for me on the tour by way of the Altai Krai on two consecutive days.

We — that’s my information and interpreter, my driver, and myself — at that time had been on the street for just a few days, and the yield of images was blended. Lengthy driving distances, dangerous roads, and the battery charging cycles of the drone set the each day routine.

For lack of alternate options, I merely deliberate my locations utilizing Google Maps. For today we selected a extremely promising space: a cluster of salt lakes close to the Kazakh border. On the picture from Google Maps, these salt lakes appeared to have roughly spherical shapes and so they additionally confirmed totally different shades of coloration — all in all very promising, and I had excessive expectations for the day. One other main level was the circumstance that the lakes appeared to be fairly accessible — apparently, there have been some type of dust roads main there.

When my driver steered his small SUV away from the primary street, first alongside sideroads and eventually for what felt like hours alongside barely seen dust roads into the lake space, an disagreeable shock emerged. The primary two lakes we visited had dried up completely. Over the extensive plain and underneath skinny clouds, the creamy mild of late afternoon sat in unbelievable silence. I assumed to myself: dangerous luck with these two lakes, now let’s carry up the drone. However from above, issues seemed even worse. Nearly all of the related lakes have been utterly fallen dry, leaving flat, white, unpleasantly fishy-smelling lake bottoms.

Dried up salt lakes

What a debacle! A topic I actually had been wanting ahead to seeing, merely wasn’t there in any respect. However who may have informed me that these shallow salt lakes might dry out throughout summer season? I didn’t know a single one that even knew of the existence of those swimming pools. I used to be depressed and offended about this failure. Today was speculated to be one of many highlights of this journey.

After all, it was clear to me from the beginning that these motives have been very speculative. The aerial and satellite tv for pc photographs from distant areas are sometimes deceptive when it comes to coloring and scenario. I ought to have been conscious of this threat.

I then recalled all the great sayings concerning the optimistic sides of failure and shortly wiped them away. In spite of everything, a fantastic image can be manner higher than failing in magnificence. And as is so typically the case, the lack of one factor opened up the view on one thing else.

Additional to the northeast, there was one other lake which, though not shimmering in all these colours, might need fascinating shapes at its shorelines. So, because the solar slowly sank decrease, we plunged additional into this surreal, unbelievable lonely panorama.

Sooner or later, we stopped within the sandy plain close to the talked about lake. The shore and the islands certainly confirmed weird shapes, in order that I used to be in a position to empty my 5 battery packs with nice pleasure. It was a small comfort on this in any other case miserable day, and but solely a small foretaste of the following.

We spent the night time in a cute little vacation resort, which was already largely abandoned at this late level within the 12 months. Contemplating the distant area, it was an virtually exuberant luxurious lodging.

The subsequent day we continued southeast in the direction of “Malinovoye Osero” (Raspberry Lake) close to the settlement of the identical title. Because the title suggests, this lake was speculated to be a really peculiarly coloured physique of water. The alkaline, bitter-salty lake accommodates “liver of sulfur water” by which brine shrimps and phytoplankton discover good circumstances for residing. Relying on the season, the latter provides the water a pink or brown-red coloration.

After my expectations weren’t too excessive because of the pale pink satellite tv for pc photographs, the expertise of the day prior to this had made me much more pessimistic. As well as, there was a rumor that the big Raspberry Lake had largely misplaced its coloration. The salt focus was speculated to have dropped as a result of an inflow of a considerable amount of freshwater. In flip, this might have affected the residing circumstances of the phytoplankton massively.

As we drove from Mikhailovskoye by way of the lake space, it shortly grew to become clear that the big Raspberry Lake had certainly misplaced its coloration. It was neither pink nor brown-red, however slightly yellow-greenish in coloration. Nonetheless, this time my fright lasted just for a short while, as a result of close to the village known as “Raspberry Lake” we discovered one other smaller lake which was already tempting us from distance with a promising coloration. We pulled off the street and I began the drone.

What I noticed actually took my breath away. The lake was not of pale pink coloration however shimmered in unbelievably deep shades of purple. And that wasn’t all: within the lake, crystalizing salts had shaped virtually hypnotic buildings that appeared out of this world.

The “Raspberry Lake” in its full magnificence. This can be a panorama shot composed of 10 particular person photographs.

I spent the remainder of my keep on this space alternately charging batteries and flying, charging, flying, charging. The settlement itself was not notably enticing — my interpreter mentioned that this was now my private time journey to the Soviet Union. We had good and clear lodging in an empty non-public flat, however every thing within the village appeared very desolate and extremely distant from the remainder of the world.

The group centre of Malinovoye Osero.

On this space, I had some great copter flights — on the small Raspberry Lake, at totally different occasions of the day, and on the surrounding lakes. Behind the village was a chemical manufacturing facility that had grown out of the “Mikhailov Soda Mix” based in 1929, and which now produces underneath the title “Mikhailov Chemical Reagents Plant”. Whereas I didn’t care a lot concerning the reagents, I used to be much more taken with the previous soda salines behind the manufacturing facility.

So there it was: the reward for all my efforts. As soon as once more I had taken the great distance round and, over all doubts and setbacks, had trusted my very own instinct. Ultimately, I got here again with photos of a topic that I didn’t even know existed earlier than.

I, subsequently, attain the conclusion that trusting one’s personal instinct is an irreplaceable cornerstone on the trail to new motifs.

I ought to maintain that in thoughts.

If you wish to look across the space: I’ve photographed a spherical panorama, which I hope you’ll get pleasure from viewing, rotating, and zooming into!

For all those that are technically , that is how the pano was created:

  • First, I photographed all photos “freehand” with the DJI Inspire 2 and the DJI Zenmuse X7 APS-C digicam (focal size: 16mm equal to 24mm 35mm).
  • The only photographs have been transformed from DNG uncooked recordsdata into TIFF recordsdata in Adobe Digicam Uncooked.
  • These TIFF recordsdata have been merged right into a spherical panorama utilizing my most well-liked stitching-tool, PTGui.
  • Afterwards I needed to “patch” a small gap within the ensuing file, as a result of at one level I hadn’t paid consideration and missed 100% protection of the picture tiles.
  • Then I edited the entire panorama in Adobe Photoshop to my private style.
  • Then I exported a big JPEG file. Afterwards, utilizing the free software program Marzipano, I created the recordsdata to be considered within the Bowser.
The stitched and edited picture file of the spherical panorama “Raspberry Lake”. Please click on on the picture to get to the panorama viewer…

Concerning the creator: Stephan Fürnrohr is a photographer born, raised, and residing in Bavaria, Germany. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the creator. You will discover extra of Fürnrohr’s work on his website, Facebook, and Twitter. This text was additionally revealed here.

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