Nick Carver Photography Blog

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Large Wall Art: 7-Foot Wide Panorama

Large Wall Art - Panoramic Photography by Nick CarverLarge Wall Art: Nick Carver and the 7-Foot Wide Beast
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I recently made a large wall art piece for a client to hang in his TrueCar executive office in Goleta, CA. I've made some large wall art before. My record is 10-foot wide, a panoramic view of Sedona, AZ that hangs proudly in my Tustin classroom. But on the 10-foot wide piece, I broke up it into 3 smaller pieces, forming a triptych, simply because it's nearly impossible (or prohibitively expensive) to create a single piece that large.

Large Wall Art - Panoramic Photography by Nick Carver

For this wall art at TrueCar, we were looking at doing a 6-foot wide print with a 4" double mat and a 2" frame. All in all, the piece would measure 7-foot edge-to-edge when it was complete. Since we were going with traditional matting, doing a triptych wouldn't look right. The gaps between prints would be distracting. So the goal was to do a single continuous piece framed under glass.

Before this, I'd never done a piece this large with glass. The triptych hanging in my Tustin classroom is float-mounted with plexiglass and no frame. Doing it under a single pane of glass presents a different set of challenges. Thankfully my framer, Salamon Art in Fountain Valley, provided much needed guidance on this process. I learned from the head honcho over there that matting prints this big is so uncommon that there are only 2 colors available for matting: white and warm-white. Good thing that's what we wanted anyway. The next challenge was glazing (meaning the glass). They don't make glass this big for picture framing. We could get a pane specially made, but that would cost a fortune. Thank God for acrylic. Acrylic glazing made the whole piece surprisingly lightweight compared to glass and it made the materials far more affordable.

I typically like high-gloss metallic prints, especially for landscapes like this, but I decided to go with a regular matte finish paper. It was a tough decision because I don't really like matte photo paper, but it was the right decision. High-gloss prints this big become distractingly riddled with ripples and reflections. Also, it's a good idea to do really dark photos in a dull finish. High-gloss picks up reflections even worse when the picture is dark. If you got yourself a really bright composition, though, gloss can look great. The printing was done, as always, by the experts at Pro Photo Connection in Irvine. It's the only place I trust with my prints. This photo, by the way, is a 6x17 panoramic made on Fuji Velvia 50 film in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

Sunset at Rancho Palos Verdes

The finished piece came out great, it was huge, it didn't break on transport (my biggest worry), and it looked gorgeous hanging on this exec's wall. As I've said before, getting the photo framed and hanging on someone else's wall is the ultimate reward of photography. Feels good.

On to the next one.

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA
Heisler Park at Sunset in Laguna Beach, CA
Canon EOS 5D, Lee Split ND Filters
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Heisler Park is a classic picturesque beach park in Orange County that embodies the Laguna Beach scenery about as perfectly as any beach can. The palm trees, the white sand, the screams Southern California. To me, Heisler park is both a favorite photo spot and a second office for my teaching business. I take students here for Orange County private photography lessons and group photography classes all the time.

One of my favorite classes, Landscape Photography at the Irvine Fine Arts Center (details here), includes a field shoot in Laguna Beach to catch the sunset. In a recent session of this class back in February, the sunset was kind enough to offer up some brilliant colors for our practice shoot. In between helping my students out one-on-one as they practiced shooting in manual, using filters, and fine-tuning their compositions, I fired off a few compositions myself to demonstrate concepts in the next evening's meeting.

Luckily I was shooting digital (as I always do for these classes). Using my DSLR camera, I was able to shoot quick and review my results immediately. Film would have been a bit too slow and I probably would have missed a few shots. The colors and contrast are certainly rendered differently on my digital sensor than they are on my trusty Fuji Velvia film, but not necessarily for the worse - just different. In these photos I opted for my usual compositional approach - interesting foreground element, slow shutter speed to blur the water, wide angle lens to get it all in. They may not be wildly different from my previous work, but I suppose every sunset is unique and so every picture is unique.

Shutter speeds varied, but most were around 1 second and I used split ND filters in every shot. Without the filters, the colors of the sunset would have been lost forever.

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA