How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

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Almost every camera can do a panoramic shot. A lot of apps and software can create a “little planet” image. So how can you capture that beautiful view and still stay creative? Try going vintage! In this article, I’ll show you how to do a patchwork-style collage (called a Joiner Collage) so you can do any panorama in an original way and end up with a one-of-a-kind image.

What is a Joiner Collage?

Back in the 80s, an artist called David Hockney was studying how human vision works and experimenting with an idea he created called Joiners. Using Polaroids at the beginning and commercial 35mm film later, he shot one subject from many different angles and then put them together into one image creating sort of a patchwork pattern.

Following on this idea, I’m going show you how to do some digital panoramas. By following these steps, you can capture any subject from every point of view that you want. Here is a panoramic I made of Milan that I’ll use to show you all the steps.

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

How to make a Joiner

To start this project you already have to be thinking about it from the moment you make the photos. Three things you have to consider:

  1. You will want to shoot all the photos that you are going to need so that you don’t find yourself in front of the computer with a piece of your scene missing.
  2. If you decide to go with a regular shape like a square or a rectangle then try to visualize how many pieces you need per side and divide your scene like a grid (e.g. Five photos for the horizontal side and three for the vertical side).
  3. You need to set the resolution to a lower setting than you might be used to, because all the files will be combined into one (I’ll explain how further along). If you shoot each one at 25 MB for example, or the highest your camera can shoot, it will probably be too big for your computer to handle.

Once you have all the images, organize just the ones are you going to use, all into one folder.

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

Merging the images

Now open the folder in Bridge and select all images. You can easily do this by holding the Shift key while clicking the first and then the last file; it will select all the images in between as well (or Cmd/Ctrl+A for select all).

With all the photos selected you can now go to the menu Tools > Photoshop > Load Files into Photoshop Layers.

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

The result of this command is exactly what its name suggests. It will open one image composed of all the selected images as layers. However, the file will be the size as an individual image, so you need to make room to fit all of them.

Go to menu Image > Canvas Size and a window will pop up with the current measurements. In the drop-down menu choose Percentage and multiply it by as many photos you will line up in your panorama, plus one. So if you are doing a panorama of 5×3 you need to put a percentage of 600 x 400, that way you will have also some blank space to play with.

I like to leave the point in the center so that space will be created evenly on the sides. But you can move that around depending on how you feel it’s easiest for you to spread your images out on the canvas.

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

Arrange the Joiner collage

Now all you have to do is use your creativity and arrange the photos to create your Joiner collage.

To make this task easy, use the Move tool from the tools panel. Tick the Auto-Select choice and choose Layer from the drop-down menu from the settings of the tool. This will allow you to just click on each image and move it without having to go back and forth to the layers panel. The tool will select it automatically.

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

Tweak your final image

That’s it! Once you have the final layout you can add some adjustment layers if you want to fine-tune the levels, contrast, saturation or anything else on your panorama. Add a background color if you decide to incorporate some negative space around your Joiner, and flatten the image.

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

You can also add some effects if you want to create different versions of the image. For example, you can turn it into negative.

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

You can also do an abstract or surreal panorama by duplicating layers, forcing perspective, and anything you can imagine.

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

Keep in mind that David Hockney, the creator of the Joiner worked mainly with portraits, so you don’t have to limit yourself to panoramas. Try all sorts of subjects, the sky is the limit!

How to Make a Joiner Collage for a Retro-Style Panorama Image

Conclusion

I hope you give this fun and easy technique a try. Please share your Joiner collage images in the comments below. We’d love to see what you create.

Read more from our Post Production category

Ana Mireles is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.

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