A Fitting Display for Panoramas

I’ve never been happy with any Lightboxes I’ve come across on the Internet. It’s true, I’m very picky and hypercritical about these things. I’ve come to have very strong opinions on UI, particularly when it comes to photography.

So I’ve started a little sideproject on designing my own Lightbox, with an emphasis on the proper display of panoramas. From my notes:

To me the beauty of a panorama is looking at it whole and wide, and then walking in on it to see the details.

As a photographer I experience this with my own panos when I first stitch them together in photoshop, then zoom in in various ways to edit it. But how do I share this experience with my viewer? It would be easy in a physical gallery, just make a large print, let the viewers approach from a distance then zoom and pan with their feet. This is a very satisfying way to look at a large, detailed photograph. My goal is to capture this in digital form.

Well, I’m still mulling around the problem. So far I’ve just got the basic lightbox made, it works much like the lightbox you find in facebook or any random photo sharing or news website– nothing special. And I thought I’d finish it before blogging about it, but I came across an interesting solution here. This artist makes complex images starting with photographs then digitally repeating elements to create very high resolution, realistic but surreal, patterned images.

The ability to view the whole, then zoom in and explore are a must for his images. I like the simplicity of the zooming and panning, although I might make a few different choices on how the panning works. There also seems to be some ajax built in, which is something I’ve been mulling. Is it better to load one very large image at the beginning, or start with a lower resolution image then bring in higher ones as needed? The solution he uses is Adobe Flash based, which works for him, but is not acceptable to me if only because Flash is so 2000’s. The solution I am working on will be in Javascript with jQuery, and probably presented as a WordPress plugin.