3 min read

looking up...

looking up...
Past, present, future? All at the same time?

A few months ago, (while looking up) I fell into a rabbit hole of making vertical panoramas (I may already have mentioned that somewhere along the way). I was curious about trying to reflect a different sense of the trees along my walks - some of which seem to stretch horizontally as much as vertically...I wanted to capture the environment I was in rather than the things I was looking at.

I tried misusing the mobile phone's horizontal panorama feature. I started by shooting at the ground in front of me, then slowly raising the phone upward... and then I just kept going in an arc over my head, bending backwards the last little bit to capture what was behind me. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do – a no-brainer – and it was a bit of a yoga stretch and I enjoyed taking a shot in the dark. 😄

It was a simple trick and the results are curiously cool...

my first vertical pano - winter 2023

I've had fun taking these shots ever since – the results are always serendipitous and often quite cool. The only tricky bit was figuring out how to keep the arrow aligned to the line in the camera, I had to tilt the left/right axis on the phone by stretching my left or right arm just a tiny bit - not intuitive at first, but it made sense and I got the hang of it after a few wobbly starts - like flying a kite!

looking ahead
looking above
looking back

For some reason, these vertical panoramas made me think of Douglas Harding's Headless State. He describes his experience of this discovery while walking in the Himalayas...

What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, an odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once, words really failed me. Past and future dropped away. I forgot who and what I was, my name, manhood, animalhood, all that could be called mine. It was as if I had been born that instant, brand new, mindless, innocent of all memories. There existed only the Now, that present moment and what was clearly given in it. To look was enough. And what I found was khaki trouserlegs terminating downwards in a pair of brown shoes, khaki sleeves terminating sideways in a pair of pink hands, and a khaki shirtfront terminating upwards in—absolutely nothing whatever! Certainly not in a head.

It took me no time at all to notice that this nothing, this hole where a head should have been was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary, it was very much occupied. It was a vast emptiness vastly filled, a nothing that found room for everything—room for grass, trees, shadowy distant hills, and far above them snowpeaks like a row of angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world.

Douglas Harding, On Having No head

An empty fullness indeed (he was obviously a fan of khaki!)

There are more V.Panos...

I've made a collection of more of these vertical panoramas on the Reluctant Illustrator site – along with a thought about a simple UI/UX for a cool (maybe) vertical panorama viewing experience - what can I say? re-inventing the wheel is an occupational hazard.

What do you think, dear reader - want to make some vertical panoramas?
I'd be curious to see your panoramas!
Send me your experiments: Panorama-mania!

As always, thanks for reading and indulging!
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I'll leave you with Mazzy Star...

Mazzy Star - Fade Into You