Going Back To Waterloo Lake

Back To Waterloo Lake

I have been making some loose panoramas, including some of Waterloo Lake in Roundhay Park, Leeds.

I call them ‘loose’ panoramas because of how I shoot them.

Articles and tutorials on how to make panoramas by blending a number of photographs say you should place your camera on a tripod. Then the idea is to pan around taking a series of photographs, overlapping each shot with the next.

Then you should raise the tripod head and shoot another string of photos.

And then raise the tripod again, and shoot a third set.

The next step is to merge all these separate photographs in Photoshop using the Automate > Photomerge tool that combines all the individual shots to make one huge composite photograph.

There are also special tripod heads that eliminate parallax distortion.

That is the distortion you get when you hold your finger up in front of your face and look at it with one eye closed, then with just the other eye closed, and your finger appears to move.

These special pano-heads as they are often called, sit on top of the tripod and offset the camera on the tripod so as to eliminate that distortion.

Back To Fast And Loose

Which brings me back to the ‘loose’ panoramas I prefer to take because frankly, sometimes I don’t care about the distortion, which anyway is much less for objects that are further from the camera.

So my technique is to do away with the tripod completely and just take a whole series of overlapping shots handheld.

Why Not Just Take One Photograph

One reason for making panoramas from a number of photographs is to cover a larger area than can be covered in one shot.

That leads to the second reason. While, of course, you can often move back to take a single shot, you cannot get the perspective you can get by raising, lowering, and panning the camera for a whole series of shots that you combine into one photograph.

A third reason for making composites is that the resulting photograph is very big. Instead of the 6, 10, 12, or whatever number of megapixels the camera has in its sensor, the finished panorama can be 100 megapixels or more.

That means you can print the photograph as big as the side of a bus if you wish.

Waterloo Lake Roundhay Park Leeds
Waterloo Lake - Roundhay Park - Leeds

This is a ‘loose’ panorama I took today of the head of Waterloo lake in Roundhay Park in Leeds under a leaden sky.

The park is over 700 acres (280 hectares) and is owned by the local council for the benefit of the public.

Roundhay Park – A Very, Very Brief History

The park was laid out in 1815 and the lake was made by damming up the far end of the quarry that was there.

The work was done by the then recently-unemployed soldiers who had ended their service following the battle of Waterloo and the defeat of Napoleon’s forces earlier that year.

And that is why the lake was named Waterloo Lake.

When I Was Little

When I was very little – perhaps two or three years old – my mum, dad, and I would go out on the lake in one of the rowing boats you could hire.

I can picture my dad rowing, with his shirt sleeves rolled up.

Faintly in my memory I can hear the boatmaster calling out to boats on the lake: “Come in number nine, your time is up,” but I may be confusing this with other boating lakes that hired out boats.

A Phrase That Entered English Folk Language

Certainly the phrase ‘Come in number nine, [or whatever number you want] your time is up,’ became part of English folk language used by comedians and raconteurs in all kinds of situations.

It was so much a part of the language that it was used as the title of a song by Pink Floyd, who re-recorded and retitled one of their tracks to “Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up” for the film Zabriskie Point.

Foreign Shores

When my parents and I were out on the lake, they would tell me that we were rowing to another country.

At three years old that bothered me because I couldn’t reconcile the idea of ‘another country’ with the knowledge that I could see the land around the lake encircling us.

The Seed That Sowed The Travel Bug

Looking back, I wonder whether the travel bug that bit me was sown when I was told we were traveling to a foreign country on Waterloo lake.

Waterloo Lake Today

Tamara and I came to live in Leeds three years ago, temporarily while we consider our next move.

The boats that used to be for hire on the lake are no longer there, but the cafe above the former boathouse has been spiffied up and we often drop in there after a walk around the lake and through the woods that dot the park.

This article is part of the Lonely Planet Blogsherpa series, hosted this time by Natalia, Willem, and Steve who are exploring the world their way over at No Beaten Path. Why not take a look at their roundup of really great articles on the theme of Going Back.

Note:
There are times when ‘loose’ panoramas produce some wacky results, such as when photographing large buildings close up. I will post some of these photographs in another article shortly, so why not sign up for the RSS or email so that you know when the article appears.

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    Comments

    1. Esther Hecht says

      The panorama is beautiful. Thanks for the explanation about shooting panoramas. Maybe I’ll try it someday.

      • David Bennett says

        Thank you, Esther,

        As a general note for anyone who doesn’t have Photoshop, Canon compact cameras usually have an image-stitching setting that helps align images as you are shooting them.

        Canon also offers a free download of their photo stitching program. Just google for ‘PhotoStitch’.

        Microsoft offer a free download of their stitching program. Just google for Image ‘Composite Editor’.

        Both programs are Windows only.

        There are other programs out there – just google for ‘panoramic photo software’.

        I like Photoshop because it makes a very good job of not only aligning the images but also of adjusting the lighting between the images.

        Without that adjustment, the finished panorama can show abrupt changes in lightness (especially in areas of the sky) where one image borders another.

    2. says

      “Come in number 51, your time is up.” I’ve seen Zabriskie Point when I was on an Antonioni binge a few years back but I don’t remember that phrase or Pink Floyd music. Now I’ve got a reason to see the movie again.

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