This shot turned out to be a grand convergence of sorts. A grand convergence of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Once I discovered that Cincinnati's version of Octoberfest would be in full swing during the "Performing Arts" event there was little doubt that I would shoot the party. Every year over half a million people converge on Fountain Square and the surrounding neighborhoods of downtown to celebrate Cincinnati's German heritage. Great weather, a dozen or so performance stages, a veritable sea of beer and very happy people made this a great party and a great panorama opportunity. This was "The Good."
Having been to Octoberfest before, I knew that I would have almost no opportunity to scout a shot in advance, so I made the decision to leave the tripod and pan head at home and shoot the event handheld. I've made several passable panos shooting handheld but this was a special challenge. After wandering the venue for a while, having dinner and a few beers along the way, I settled on shooting the main performance stage on Fountain Square, in the midst of a seething crowd of drinking, dancing partiers. The Joe Wendel Orchestra was getting the crowd pumped up and everything and everybody was moving, including, after several beers, me. To get a vantage point, I jumped up onto the stage, held the camera over my head and began to shoot. By the time the roadies noticed me standing in front of the performers, I had managed three or four full panoramas. I shot them very fast to minimize the effect of position changes in the crowd but the fading daylight made for long exposure times and lots of unusable images. As the band began to clamor for the roadies to get me off the stage I had to take my leave from this vantage point and disappear into the crowd very quickly. This was "The Bad."
After much refreshment that evening, and a day or so to recover, I began the job of stitching a panorama. I was lucky to get anything even remotely usable out of the shots I had gotten. I had not even attempted a zenith or nadir shot, knowing that I had almost no chance of getting the top and bottom of this pano stitched successfully and not having time for such niceties when it seemed important to avoid getting the bum's rush from a bunch of drunken roadies. The poor registration of the shots I got holding the camera at arm's length over my head made seamless stitching of the vertical extremes of the shot all but impossible so I confined the tilt to crop them out of the pano. Even in the center of the field there were many registration problems that needed to be corrected in post. Some of these corrections were more successful than others so I confined zoom as well to help hide some of the less successful fixes. This, unfortunately, was "The Ugly."
Just about everyone in the panorama is performing, as was the photographer. I was glad I got at least a marginally usable panorama out of the event. It was a pretty good party too...