Perspectives in space and time – panoramas from the past

Panorama-type depictions were made formerly as well, but the word „panorama” has been known since the 18th century, when – mostly initially – it was the name of cycloramas. The wide range of vision and perspectives have key importance not only in case of creating a panorama view or panorama photos. Far-seeing, perspectival thinking is a characteristic of strategic planning, and the way of thinking of successful entrepreneurs and strategists. Thus, it is related to tactical operations as well. It is not a coincidence that fortresses that were important in military and tactical aspects were built on top of elevations, which made the observation of the surrounding landscape possible.


An automobile on a road (the early 1900s) - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY


Vízakna-fürdő (bathing-place 10 kms to the north of Nagyszeben) in a hundred years - Terleczky József, CC BY-NC-ND


Island bath of Keszthely in the 1890s - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND 


Ótátrafüred II. Bad Altschmecks (1905) - Terleczky József, CC BY-NC-ND 


A walk near the seaside (the early 1900s) - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY

Who invented the word “panorama”

It was English miniature and porcelain painter Robert Baker, with Irish ancestry, who first used the word “panorama”, for naming his cycloramas. It consist of the Greek pan (all) and horama (vision) words, which implies that if you see a landscape in great distance, in a broad perspective, you see a complete image – even if not all, but almost all or many things – at the same time. The secret of the panorama view is that the observed objects must be viewed from an appropriate distance and from a high level place. This allows you to see – instead of details – the “big total” that makes a deep impression with its grandiosity.


Snowy mountain peaks from a bird’s eye view (the early 1900s)  - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY

What mountains teach you

2015_46064_AdfBM_e_atm.jpgIt is a fact that you can see breathtaking panoramas on high locations, for example looking down from the top of mountains. The question is why people like mountains so much. Probably, not only because of panorama views. A possible answer might be that mountains are places that are less controlled by humanity, thus they belong to the less civilised and wider territories of the Earth. When people go on an excursion, especially in case of high mountains, and move away from the civilised world, hikers may recognise that the world is much bigger and more fascinating than the civilised environment that was transformed by societies.


Snowy mountain tops (the early 1900s) - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY

2015_45974_AdfBM_e.jpgAccording to another aspect, mountains and hiking are really loved by those who like challenges. A high mountain tour is a very good analogue of purposeful thinking: during hiking you have an aim, and in order to reach it, you have to plan and prepare appropriately. Besides facing challenges during your way, the goal, the peak is always in front of your eyes. You have to overcome obstacles, combat difficulties and sometimes solve occurring problems to achieve success. Finally, when you reach your goal, you can admire the panorama looking in the distance on top of the mountain. One thing that mountains teach you during hiking and mountain climbing – besides the fact that the world is wonderful – is purposeful thinking.


On a mountain tour (the early 1900s) - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY


The Tatras, Lake Csorba (1913)  - Thúry György Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

How to take a panorama photo?

Taking panorama photos is one of the favourite processes of landscape photography. As photo camera developers knew from the start that landscapes were popular, they put a great emphasis on developing the functions needed for taking landscape photos. That is why, among others, all digital cameras have these functions nowadays, thus landscape photography can be recommended to beginners actually, for it is a fairly simple task.


Panorama of Pécsvárad from Paprika Hill - Csorba Győző Könyvtár - Pécs, PDM

Making a panorama picture is a photo-technical solution where the picture is fitted from several different photos. In case of a landscape, minimum 3-4 photos have to be taken for one picture. The main point of the preparation is that every part photo must contain minimum a quarter of the previous photo in order that they can be fitted together. Fitting may be made by image editing software or special software items created for this purpose.    


Brasov (1909) - Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND


Peak of Matterhorn in Switzerland (the early 1900s) - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY


 View from the hill of Fonyód to Badacsony (1907) - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND2015560.jpg

Houses in a valley (the early 1900s) - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY


View to Pöstyénfürdő (1910) - Terleczky József, CC BY-NC-ND


City view (the early 1900s) - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY 


Balatongyörök from Szigliget (1925) - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND


 Swiss mountains (the early 1900s) - Kuny Domokos Múzeum, CC BY 


Echoing side of the Tihany Abbey and the echo spoiling cottage next to it (the early 1900s)  - Balatoni Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND 

Károly Erdélyi

Translated by Zita Aknai


  • Douglas Harper: "Panorama" in: Online Etymology Dictionary ( Hozzáférés ideje: 2020 szeptember 24.
  • Enczi Zoltán, Richard Keating: A digitális fotózás műhelytitkai kezdőknek - 2007, Budapest, ISBN 963 8666641 


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