Monday, 2 March 2015

Shooting Panoramas with an iPhone

One very neat technique that I teach in my photo classes is how to shoot a panorama.  We all visit locations that are just too big, or too impressive to merit just a single 'snap', so a panorama made from multiple frames makes a lot of sense.  However we don't always feel like shooting five frames, then downloading, then stitching them to make the pano.  
On our trip to Ethiopia one of my guests started shooting panos with her iPhone 6s (thanks for the demo Tamara, now I'm hooked) the results were impressive.
The iPhone gives you a 15Mb JPG file that, for the most part, gets stitched together flawlessly.  
I quickly got into the habit of whipping out my phone at most locations to get a wider view.  
How it works: Select the camera app, scroll to the right to find the pano setting, then, holding the phone vertically move slowly and evenly from left to right.  If you prefer right to left, tap the onscreen arrow icon before you start and it reverses to the required direction. 
As with all auto functions, the iPhone's metering is likely to overexpose the top half of the frame so you might lose details in the sky. 
Use photo's Edit function to lighten/darken the image - or, better still, import into Adobe Photoshop/Elements and use its tools to add final tonal retouches.

Ethiopia: view of the countryside around Yeha in Northern Tigray.

Rwanda: pano shot from a viewpoint overlooking the twin lakes near Musenze.

Rwanda: another roadside pano on the road from Kigali to Virunga park.

Rwanda: what a location for a hotel - view from the terrace of the Virunga Lodge overlooking the Virunga National Park, the twin lakes and Uganda off in the far distance.

Ethiopia: boarding the flight from Axum to Lalibela.

Ethiopia: breathtaking view from my room at the Mountain View hotel, Lalibela.

Ethiopia: bridge in northern Tigray, the historical site where Italian colonists used banned munitions to kill thousands of rebelling Ethiopians.

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