I have a book in my photographic library that details the history of the Colorama display that used to be seen in Grand Central Station in New York City. It was a Kodak production and for a long time was the largest colour photograph in the world.
It was always a panoramic image of some sort, made up of colour transparency sheets with lights behind it to make it stand out there in the gloom. It was always a specially -done work by in-house specialists and always featured some Kodak product in use in the image – a wedding with still and motion picture cameras or a teenage sock hop. Or a family holiday or special occasion. It nearly always depicted American scenes or people.
Snort at this if you will – Kodak was the biggest producer of photographic material on the planet for decades and they called the shots in many aspects of the industry. They have fallen since, but their products were practical and productive in the film era. You could, and did, trust the yellow box from Rochester.
All that said, we are now able to make our own mini-Coloramas for ourselves with the panorama programs in either our digital cameras or our computers. My Fujifilm cameras all have the motion panorama setting somewhere in their drive mechanisms and there is a useful panorama maker in the Photoshop Elements program in the iMac.
The motion panorama makes a good jpeg, and you can ask the camera to swivel in the horizontal or vertical orientation. As long as you give the computer enough of an overlap in each image it can stitch together a seamless image. I use the 24-part grid overlay in the back of the LCD screen to let me see how far to overlap the images.
Motion panorama works as a 120º or 180º effort – you rotate the camera around yourself or a tripod to capture the image. You need to practise the speed of turning and to have few moving elements in the scene before you – shutter speed is also critical to avoid banding in the final result.
The composite method allows you to use a RAW capture with all the post-exposure adjustments possible before you convert to jpeg. The motion panorama need careful exposure as it is a jpeg to start with – a detailed one, though.
It is best to base the camera on a good tripod with a central spigot that turns freely. You don’t need the complications of 360º markings or that sort of thing, but you do need to get the final turntable horizontal. A bubble level is a good thing.
Final problem is finding good panoramic scenes for your Colorama. Remember that changing light across a scene will be recorded as changing light on the files so make sensible compromises before you start shooting.