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Braye Park panorama 1966

I’ve a soft spot for panoramic views. They are so inclusive of detail, compared to single frame shots that are generally highly selective of subject matter. We frame our single shots to cut out clutter and deliberately incorporate the most subjectively picturesque elements we can see. With 360-degree panoramas we can’t really do that – or at least not to the same extent. We choose where we stand, but then take in all that can be seen as we turn and fire the shutter.

Panoramas can be awkward to take. They certainly were in times gone by, before digital cameras with special software designed for the task. You needed each frame to overlap. You wanted consistency in exposure. It was important to try to keep the camera tilt about the same, if you wanted to knit the images together later without too much trouble. Naturally, a tripod is a huge advantage, as is a camera with good adjustments.

Keeping that in mind, it’s hard not to admire the panorama that I am featuring in this post. This 11-frame, 360-degree panorama was created at Braye Park lookout, Waratah (Newcastle, NSW) in 1966 by Terry Linsell, then aged about 20. At the time Terry had a Brownie box camera with no real adjustments to speak of. You wound on the film and fired the shutter. The viewfinder was a little glass rectangle on the top of the camera.

A couple of box cameras from my collection, showing the lenses, viewfinders and shutter releases.

For his panorama project, Terry didn’t have access to a tripod, but his solution was ingenious:

My brother Kevin was an electrical engineer and radio mechanic (and a photographer) and had lots of audio bits and pieces lying around. Seeing an old turntable lying on the heap must have given me the idea of making a panorama. I chose Braye Park in Waratah as it overlooked most of Newcastle. I removed the cartridge arm from the turntable and carted the turntable to the park on my Honda 90 scooter, seen in the photo. Placing it horizontally on a plinth or something that was there I put my camera on the turntable in an outward radial direction then took a photo every 30 degrees or so. The camera had fixed exposure settings so it was easy. I made sure the shots slightly overlapped so I could join them all together after they were printed.

Considering the equipment, the result is highly creditable.

Terry Linsell grew up in King Street, Newcastle, and went to school at St Mary’s Star of the Sea and Hamilton Marist Brothers. He has many interesting tales about the area, and fond memories of the schools. In 1960, when Terry was 14, the family moved to the new Housing Commission subdivision of Windale. He went on to study medicine in Sydney, learned to fly and maintained his interest in photography.

“My intense period”: Terry aged 20 in 1966, the year he took the panorama shots.
“Oh! what a feeling!”: Terry after his first solo flight in 1994.

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