Panoramic camera course in Guatemala.

This page describes the course on digital panoramic photography.
Professor Nicholas Hellmuth will now be offering courses and training on fundamentals of panorama photography including large format digital panorama photography. The panorama photography course will be available during late November or early December 2003 in Guatemala through FLAAR at Francisco Marroquin University.

These are hands-on courses with limited classroom size (actually the outside is our primary classroom; all work is done out on location). We have the top of the line digital panorama camera from BetterLight. If enough people sign up we may add the original Dicomed FieldPro BetterLight Pano system (same system as used by Stephen Johnson to photograph the National Parks) and the Seitz SuperRound Shot 70mm - 220 rollfilm panoramic camera.

This course will have no minimum group size. Maximum group size is 8.

Although it helps to have a knowledge of Photoshop beforehand, under some circumstances we can provide Photoshop training as an additional course concurrent with the panorama course.

This course is suitable for any individual, of any age or background, who wishes to learn about digital imaging and panoramic photography.

Naturally this course is especially appropriate for architects, photographers, graphic designers, artists, architectural historians, art historians, archaeologists or students of these disciplines.

Nichollas HellmuthDr Nicholas Hellmuth is an architectural historian of pre-Columbian Maya pyramid, temple, palace, and ballcourt architecture who specializes in large format photography of these buildings throughout Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. This program is sponsored by FLAAR Digital Imaging Resource Center at the Francisco Marroquin University. Professor Hellmuth has done research at the Museo Popol Vuh on the campus of this university for many years.

The course will take advantage of the natural scenery of Guatemala, especially the tropical beauty of the highland mountains and the volcanic cones which dramatize the skylines in panorama photography.

Although we obviously won't do pano photography from an airplane, to see what the landscape looks like, see the area a few miles from the university.

Volcan de Fuego Guatemala Volcan de Fuego Guatemala
Volcan de Fuego Pacaya Volcan

We may also do urban landscapes in the nicest portions of Zone 10, Vista Hermosa, and the airport area to show off the striking modern architecture of this expanding city. Field trips will include excursions to Antigua, the Spanish colonial ruins about one hour from the city. We will also photograph Lake Atitlan, whose volcano-rimmed shores make it often considered the most beautiful lake in Latin America.

The designations "introduction" and "advanced" explain the nature of this course. Introduction implies that common sense and a good photographic eye are the most useful prerequisites.

"Advanced" means the students will learn the absolute latest technological advances in panorama photography, namely seamless digital photography. A large format digital scan back rotates on a computer-controlled panorama head. One complete vertical pixel column is taken with each "shot." Up to 29,999 pixel columns can be taken in automatic sequence (Adobe Photoshop can't open a digital image larger than 30,000 pixels). The average file is about 280 MB to 600 MB of true optical data (no interpolation).

This course will involve large format inkjet digital printing since the panoramas lend themselves to giant mural-sized enlargements. Indeed the best student and faculty photographs will be offered to large format printer manufacturers for them to consider using these images to showcase the quality of the large format printers at trade shows.

This course is especially suitable anyone wishing to learn digital photography. This course is also suitable for individuals who are already professional photographers as well as hobby photographers who wish to have some experience using professional equipment.

Individuals with considerable interest but less experience are also welcome, indeed they will be offered private instruction to bring them up to speed. This class of individual and this class of assistance, however, should be reserved for people who sign up as benefactor, sponsor, or patron.

Dr Hellmuth will give the initial lectures on the overall system and will supervise the training by other instructors including Marlon Castillo.

Focus will be on visual communications of natural and urban landscapes.

The following syllabus is tentative and will be altered to suit the developing circumstances.

Session 1: Welcome and introduction to wide angle and panorama photography in the first century of photography. Introduction to the cameras that you will get to know.

Session 2: review of the traditional panorama cameras of the 1950's into the 1980's.

Practice: Session 3: Perspective control and movements, the downside of small format cameras which lack these movements: Traditional wide angle photography with conventional cameras: Nikon 15mm, Hasselblad SuperWide, and other cameras. The need for QTVR when you don't have seamless system.

Practice: Session 4: Perspective control and movements with 4x5 cameras with wide angle lenses, etc.

Practice: Session 5: Introduction to computerized panorama cameras: Seitz 70mm and then the newer BetterLight digital pano system. Photography on location: panoramas of the UFM campus

Practice: Session 6: Photography on location: wide angle panoramas of the UFM campus

Practice: Session 7: Photography on location: panoramas of a courtyard aspect of the UFM campus

Practice Session 8: Photography on location: panoramas of an interior scene on the UFM campus

Session 9: Critique of student photography work done to date

Practic: Session 10: Photography on location: panoramas of an interior situation in the Museo Ixchel.

Practice Session 11: Photography on location: panoramic close-up inside the Museo Popol Vuh

Practice Session 12: Photography on location: panoramas within an urban courtyard in Zona 10 or VistaHermosa

Practice Session 13: Photography on location: panoramas of an urban landscape of skyscrapers in Zona 10 or VistaHermosa, especially from the hills looking down on VistaHermosa office buildings and tall apartments.

Practice Session 14: Photography on location: panoramas of an colonial situation in Antigua or nearby. We many add additional sessions for Antigua if weather and conditions permit.

Practice Session 15: Photography on location: panoramas of a landscape such as Lake Atitlan. We may add additional sessions for Antigua if weather and conditions permit.

Practice Session 16: Critique of student photography work

UFM Guatemala
Panorama Museo Popol Vuh, universidad Frnacisco Marroquín, Guatemala.

The above list will be adapted to the weather. The idea is that 2 students will work in the morning sunlight; 2 other students in the afternoon. It is not possible to photograph with digital system at night.

Textbook: two on digital photography, one on large format camera movements. No textbook that we know of exists of panorama photography, so we will prepare our own documentation. If you need help on Adobe Photoshop we know of excellent textbooks on Photoshop.

We would recommend a few pertinent books on panorama photographs such as by Will Landon and Stephen Johnson.

Tutoring in Adobe Photoshop: if your skills in Photoshop are minimal, or if this is your first time, we will need to provide remedial and/or basic Photoshop training to you. Usually such a course costs up to $900 in the USA. Cost via UFM should be roughly $300 for intermediate to $500 for beginner, depending on the level you wish to achieve and depending on how much personal attention our staff needs to dedicate you to teach you Photoshop quickly and thoroughly. If you need tutoring in Photoshop you will also need to purchase the pertinent books which we will recommend.

Tutoring in Wide Format Inkjet Printing: we have a 42" wide Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 5000ps and a 24" Epson 7500 printers in our facilities (we have several others but these are the two with pigmented inks). If you wish to learn how to do your own printing, including a bit on RIP software, we can provide a personalized course on the spot for $300; if you wish to have and take home the over 40 FLAAR Reports, cost is listed on www.wide-format-printers.NET for PDF downloads. Realize that the normal wide format printing course itself costs just under $1,000, so you are getting the basic material for half price.

Course fee for digital panoramic photography (not including Adobe Photoshop) is $2,000 for professional photographers, $1,500 for non-students, pro-sumers, full time museum, college, or university faculty or staff, or hobby photographers. For students under 28 years of age, $500 if space allows.

You will be provided jpeg copies of your files to reproduce at page size. If you wish the original copies at high resolution there is a flat fee of $1,000 camera rental fee for Lake Atitlan views and $1,000 for comparable unique views elsewhere per individual image. There is no cost for generic views in Guatemala City outside the university campus. However there is no camera rental fee if you wish to return home with mural size print-outs; we have all the necessary wide-format inkjet printers here in Guatemala. You merely cover the cost of the print-out.

If you wish to sponsor this new course, your contributions are welcome. Benefactors, sponsors, patrons (including architects, photographers, faculty who wish to make a contribution) who wish to take this course as well as to simultaneously contribute to the growth of the digital imaging program at UFM is: Benefactor, $3,000; sponsor $4,000; Patron $5,000.

A corporation may make the payment in the name of any person for any level of attendance. Some people might be more willing to be benefactor, sponsor or patron if their company can pay that sum.

Scholarships will potentially be available for a limited number of personnel of the IDAEH and Museo Nacional.

Lab costs: any printing of results would result in student covering the basic cost of ink and media. Insurance, transportation, hotel, and meal costs are not included.

All photographs which result from use of FLAAR equipment are automatically copyright by FLAAR but with credit given to the student(s). If any photographs result from this course that can be commercialized, 25% commission goes to student, 25% to UFM, 25% to the Centro Digital, and 25% to FLAAR.

Panorama Museo Popol Vuh, universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala

If you commercialize any photo of yours which results from this course, your $1,000 file copy fee covers the first $1,000 of your income. Any income you or your company receive over this sum, a 25% commission is due to FLAAR.

If due to weather, political, or other conditions this course can not take place, we will notify you as soon as possible. Be sure your airplane tickets are refundable.

You must show evidence of medical insurance and airplane medical evacuation insurance (available for about $100 from a variety of companies). You must have read the US State Dept travel advisory on Guatemala.

Any student that breaks a camera due to accident, even if not negligent, will be responsible for repair costs. Damage, as opposed to thievery is not necessarily covered by our regular insurance.


Updated Jan. 21, 2002.
Last updated june 17, 2002.