We might not be able to make our own panoramas on Mars, but we can look at Curiosity's

Over the course of almost six weeks towards the end of last year, Curiosity roved around the area of Mars called 'Rocknest', collecting over 900 photos. The majority of the images (850) came from Curiosity's telephoto camera Mast Camera instrument, as well as 21 from the Mastcam's wider-angle camera, and 25 black-and-white shots (most of which were of Curiosity itself) from the Navigation Camera. These have been stitched together to create a 1.3 billion pixel image, showing Mars' dusty landscape across its horizon to Mount Sharp.

A panoramic snapshot

The image is ready and waiting for public perusal on Nasa's website. You can even choose between raw and white balanced versions. There's also a slightly more manageable 159MB version available for download, too.

You can zoom in and out, exploring the finer details of Mars' landscape and the differences in the dustiness of the atmosphere. You might be there some time!

(Headsup to Engadget)

When more than just the horizon splits your frame

Horizon on the upper third; shoreline on the lower third. Perfect!

I'm doing quite a bit of landscape photography at the moment; it was my photographic resolution for 2012, and seeing as I'm travelling right now, felt like a sensible choice. This of course means that you'll be subjected to a hefty quotient of landscape articles for the foreseeable future. I'm sorry if that doesn't float your boat, but I'll do my best to keep them entertaining and informative.

So there I was, at the top of Rangitoto, a volcanic island just off of Auckland, snapping away at some landscapes, when it occurred to me: it's a cardinal rule of photography that horizons shouldn't run through the middle of photos, you should apply the rule of thirds. If you want more emphasis on the area above the skyline, you place the horizon on the lower of the two imaginary lines dividing your frame into thirds. Should you prefer that more attention to rest on the foreground, place the horizon on the upper third dividing line. That we know.

What, though, should you do when there's more than one dividing line in an image? For example, if you've a series of islands in your frame. Or a shore line and a skyline right in front of you. Yes, the horizon is the horizon, but these strong lines can also have a nasty impact on your photos if you manage to get one of them smack-bang in the middle of your frame, too.

If you've two dividing lines running through your image, ideally one would go closer to the upper third and the other towards the lower third, with both avoiding the middle. That should keep things dynamic, and prevent your image from looking flat and dull. The first image up there does just that: the shoreline is on the lower third, the horizon is on the upper third. Bingo! But, geography isn't always that accommodating towards geometry - and let's face it, it's why photographing landscapes can be so inspiring - so sometimes you will need to get a bit creative with your cropping.

The skyline might be running along the upper third tri-line, but it does nothing for the shoreline

Take the examples with the solitary yacht. The first one (above) has the skyline is running mostly along on the upper third, but the shoreline is perilously close to the centre. By cropping a bit from the lower half, I've been able to place the shoreline on the lower third, giving it an overall better feel.

Pushing the shoreline, and indeed the skyline, lower, has a more pleasing impact

That shoreline is so strong in this image that it needs to be properly accommodated to prevent the photo from looking oh-so-obviously split in half.

In fact the blue of the sea is so strong in this picture that if you wanted to, you could even push it a little further down the image, which pushes the actual horizon closer to the centre of the frame. Of course, that might not float your boat at all!

An even lower shoreline might work, too, given how strong it is

If you've an image where you have three or more strong dividing lines running through it, the chances are that one of them will end up running straight across the centre of the frame, with others above and below it. Provided that the central line isn't overwhelmingly strong and obviously bisects the scene, there should be sufficient movement across the entire photograph to keep it fluid and interesting. You can see that in the photo of the flooding I took in Morocco (down below). The floodplain runs through the centre of the image (look carefully and you can see the reflections), but the skyline and the shoreline are both strong enough to stop it from coming over as boring. In other words: don't worry too much.

When there are multiple dividing lines running through your images - use your judgement!

Finally, don't forget that if you're using a non-destructive editing package, there is nothing to stop you from playing around with the composition of your image until it looks right. Apart from making that picture look pretty, it'll also ensure that the next time you encounter a similar situation, you'll have a better idea of what works and you'll have to do less fiddling in your editing suite.

Oh, actually, this is finally: make sure your horizons are straight.

Found: 5 Landscape Photography Tips


Ah, landscape photography, why do you taunt us so? There’s something beautiful about capturing the world around you, but it’s bloody frustrating.

After all, you can see all the beauty around you, but why won’t your bloody camera capture it all?

There’s a lot to think about when doing landscapes. What lens should you use? How do you make it all come together? Is my horizon straight? Why won’t that cursed tree stop swaying in the wind?

Beyond Megapixels has five great tips on how to make your landscapes come to life, along with some dishy examples of gorgeous landscapes. G’won, give it a shot.

Panorama cameras


horizon-perfekt.jpgPanoramas are an excellent way of seeing the world around you, but it’s not always easy to get them right. Stitching photos together is nearly impossible without decent software, and most decent software costs a metric crapload of money.

There are decent ‘real’ panorama cameras out there, of course, but cameras like the Hasselblad X-pan will set you back as much as a small car.

Luckily, there are other products out there… 


One of these cameras is the Horizon Perfekt. It’s a funny looking little thing, but despite of this, I’ve heard good things about it. It uses a swinging lens which sees a full 120 degrees, on a 58mm long negative – nearly the width of two standard frames, and a far better solution than the wide-angle setting on an APS camera.

The next step up on the ladder is the Widepan Pro 2. Each shot employs a movable swing lens for a 140-degree field of view and all those curved-horizon distortions. Using its included adapter, the Widepan Pro II is also the longest 35mm panoramic machine of all time. Each frame is 110mm wide, which is over three times the length of a normal 35mm frame. Very cool indeed, but also quite expensive.

If you want to go full-out hardcore, you can go medium format. Whereas the Hassy X-Pan will take 36mm film, the Widepan camera will fill 1/4 of a 120 medium format film in a single shot. Amazing resolution, wicked quality, and a heart-stopping price… And then comes the problem of ‘what the hell do I do with a negative that big’ – you could scan it in part by part and piece it together in the computer, but I don’t know of any negative scanner or darkroom copier that will accept a negative that big. And getting panoramas drum-scanned does seem slightly over the top. Mostly a gimmick, then.