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6.0 The Landscapes of South Uist

Here are the 360° panoramas. In order to be viewed, these files require Quicktime to open (right click each panorama to save and run them locally).

Disadvantages

With close examination, there are blurred areas where the software has not managed to paste the photographs together properly. This problem increases when the original images are badly matched up, but is much reduced when the images are less distorted (see methodology). Furthermore, where the images have actually been joined together, there are darker patches caused by the software trying to blend together two different colours. Again, this problem is much reduced when the exposure on the camera is set manually (see methodology). The two panoramas of Leaval and Dun Trossary exemplify this problem.

An additional problem is that these panoramas elevate vision. In recent years archaeologists have explored the fact that landscapes are not simply a visual phenomena, but are experienced through all of the senses (Rodaway 1994; Tilley 1999). These panoramas simply do not reproduce the multisensual landscape.

In addition to this, the images show the view of the landscape from a single point. This is problematic as neither people in the past nor archaeologists today view a static landscape from only one spot. There is an element of movement and temporality when moving around a site that is lost with these images. It can also prove difficult to orientate oneself within the landscape from a fixed viewpoint.

The final images produced are also quite sizeable, most being over one megabyte. This has implications for presentation on the Web, although perhaps with the rapid development of technology this may not be a problem for long. It may be of interest, however, that one of the panoramas, that of Barp Frobost, was created by stitching the images together 'by hand' using Paintshop Pro, and this image is only a third of a megabyte.

Advantages

There are a number of advantages to using this kind of imagery in discussions on landscape. Firstly, the images help to reinforce the arguments and interpretations of the author by allowing the reader to examine the landscape settings of sites for themselves. The author is not restricted to showing a few images only. Instead, a much better sense of the landscape can be evoked. Furthermore, unlike video footage, the reader is able to pan around the landscape in their own time, allowing them to stop and examine more closely features that are of interest. Video footage is predetermined and does allow the reader to have a direct impact on what part of the landscape is viewed. These images may also allow the reader to interpret the landscape settings of the cairns themselves. This is particularly relevant to those (including the author) who may wish to conduct landscape analysis away from the field, or once the fieldwork is completed. Comparing such images may also help reveal broader trends in the topographic settings of monuments located in different parts of the country. These images may also be of use to readers who may find it difficult to visit the area in question.

These panoramas also, to a certain extent, reproduce the act of viewing from a fixed point a landscape which is never visible in its totality. This immediately overcomes the disadvantages of photographic strips which can be viewed in a single glance. A sense of looking is reintroduced and motion returned to a two-dimensional page. The abstract, floating perspective of maps is negated as the viewer is placed within the landscape.

Furthermore, these images are relatively easy and cheap to create. They can be rapidly produced using equipment that is widely available: a 35mm camera, a scanner, a computer and the relevant software. Once digital cameras are more widely available, the process will become even simpler. Unlike complex GIS databases or virtual reality models, very little computing knowledge is required. Once completed, the images can easily be put on the Internet.


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Last updated: Tue Aug 8 2000