A View From On High: Heinrich Berann’s Panoramas and Landscape Visualization Techniques for the U.S. National Park Service

Tom Patterson



The late Heinrich Berann, from Austria, was generally regarded as the most accomplished panoramist of all time. During the decade before his retirement in 1994, Berann painted four panoramas for the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) that demonstrated his genius for landscape visualization. This paper examines the widely admired, but little understood, vocation of panorama making, with emphasis on Berann’s NPS pieces, concepts, and techniques. Explanation is offered about how the panorama for Denali National Park, Alaska, was planned, compiled, sketched, and painted—starting from a blank sheet of paper. Berann’s techniques for landscape manipulation are then analyzed, including his unorthodox habit of rotating mountains and widening valleys, and his unique interpretations of vertical exaggeration. His graphical special effects used for portraying realistic environments are reviewed. The paper finishes with illustrations that compare Berann’s panoramas to digitallygenerated landscapes.


landscape visualization; national park

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