Framing a panorama

Putting my own panoramas on the web is quite fun, but I get much more satisfaction from printing a panorama, framing it and hanging it on a wall for display. The problem is that unless you use an APS panoramic camera which creates a standard size image, you will not be able to buy pre-made frames the right size. This is because the dimensions of your picture will depend on what camera and lens you used, how you did the stitch and whether at any stage you cropped the picture(s).

Let's take a look at how image dimensions vary depending on the lens used:

200 degrees wide x 54 degrees high
360 degrees wide x 57 degrees high
360 degrees wide x 87 degrees high
360 x 180 degree panorama

Creating your own picture frame

I am not a picture framing expert, but I have come up with a cheap alternative to ordering custom made picture frames. One of the cheapest ways of framing pictures, especially posters, is to buy a clip frame. A clip frame consists of a piece of hard board and a piece of thin glass or styrene (plastic) which is the same size. These are held together by small clips around the edge - hence the name clip frame.

1. Glass or styrene?

Styrene is lighter than glass so is useful if you are creating a very large frame, however styrene is more expensive than glass. I recommend you choose Styrene because it is easier to cut (because it snaps in sections rather than in one go) and because when you cut glass you end up with a dangerous razor sharp edge. If you do choose to cut glass you should make sure you grind the edges where you cut using a glass file.


2. Measure and mark where to cut

I suggest you put a strip of masking tape across the surface approximately where you are going to cut. Next measure the cut position (it is a good idea to make the glass or styrene very slightly larger than the backing board, say only 0.5 to 1mm larger). Use a long ruler (preferably a steel rule) and use masking tape to hold it securely on the surface. Now mark the line you are going to score with pencil, and then check to make sure you have marked it correctly. Styrene normally has a thin layer of film on both sides to protect the surface. Make sure you leave this on while you are cutting and working with it, as it protects the surface from scratches.

With the hard board, just measure where you are going to cut and use a long rule (preferably a steel ruler) to mark the cutting line with a pencil. Use masking tape to hold the rule in place if necessary so it doesn't move while you are marking the cut line.

3. Score and then cut the surfaces

Both glass and styrene can be cut quite easily by scoring a line where you want to cut and then carefully pushing the two surfaces either side of the score line - the glass or styrene will fracture along the score line. Essentially the score line creates a single point of weakness and therefore if you force the surface to break into two, it will break along its weakest point. In the case of glass, the surface will snap with a loud crack in one go. Styrene is more flexible though and will crack in small sections, so you should gently work along the score line, breaking into two.

When you score the surface it helps to use a long ruler (preferably a steel ruler) and hold it firmly in position. To avoid the ruler moving as you score, use masking tape to help hold it on the surface. Also make sure you use a good sharp knife, and score very gently at first until you have scored through the masking tape and any protective film. If you use styrene, you will need to carefully use a standing knife to cut the film on the reverse side after snapping into two pieces.

The hard board can be cut with a small saw or with a sharp standing knife. Cut gently to avoid a rough edge, and after cutting clean the edge with a small piece of sand paper.

4. Cut new clip holes or track

This is the most difficult step. The clips that hold the surfaces together will have either holes or a indented track in the back of the hard board that they clip into. Along the edge where you have cut, there will be no holes or track, so you need to cut them out. I suggest you carefully measure the position of the holes/track, mark them with pencil and cut out carefully with a standing knife. If you need to cut a track, mark a line for each side of the track and score firmly first - doing this helps to avoid you cutting a track that is not straight or which is wider than it should be. Cut slowly and carefully so you do not end up with a larger or deeper hole or track than is needed.

Book recommendations


See also...