Once you access the pano function option on your iPhone, it’s an addiction! Especially for international and adventure travel, pano capture will bring home your experience like no other image. (Read at bottom for link to explore our next iPhoneography workshop with Flying Colors. – not a Createasphere event)
Making panos looks very easy – and it basically is very much like the glossy tv commercials about iPhone. But since the issues of stability and motion are a little different than what you might guess, I invite you to learn from my what-not-to-do examples, and take some no-brainer steps to secure really great capture.
- Steady-cam or tripod-like stability insures best effect. You want to move as smoothly as possible, something like video.
- Try resting your elbows on a railing, bench etc. and swiveling arms and body.
- Level movement is equally important. I tuck my elbows firmly into my sides and cup the phone in both hands to be both level and steady.
- Try pressing the start button with your thumb; I find I jerk the camera less doing it this way.
- Try a dry run before you press start to get a feel for the motion and the range you want.
Remember to hold the iPhone vertically, not horizontal as you might expect, since the result is to be a panorama. Of course you can make a vertical panorama by holding horizontally; start at the bottom and go up, for instance for towers or tall trees.
Even though you probably will think you’re not all that stable in your camera movement, the iPhone pano function is amazingly forgiving. However, really jumpy movement of the camera – or the subject – usually results in one of three kinds of failure shown in these deliberately funky examples.
Generally I’ve found trying a pano from a moving vehicle just doesn’t work. Shaky-cam video can be effective in the right storytelling action. But the iPhone pano function, though it acts a little like video, actually captures still “slices” and stitches them together. Bumps in the road equal unmatched slices.
This failed pano experiment was taken from a launch on Lake Atitlán during our recent Guatemala iPhone excursion. The roiling water doesn’t suffer too much, but the background distance is completely useless. The rocking boat, just like any bouncing bus, car, motorcycle or plane is probably going to cause more camera movement than the function can handle.
The “slice” functionality causes another motion pitfall that may show the hilarious result of recording only part of an object moving through your frame. I though I’d capture a blurred motorcycle, as would happen with regular still capture, but instead I got half of it! If you really want the blurry cyclist, best do that separately and Photoshop it into the pano.
Distortion, particularly on close up objects, is due to modest subject motion, but results in a slightly different failed outcome. In this example children were chatting and fidgeting before a parade. Although not speeding by, as in the last example, their movement was quick enough to distort twisted limbs and faces.
There’s no solution; just avoid these types of movement, or else be willing to accept that some images will fail. To be sure I get a successful capture, I review images immediately, and try again before there’s a change in the subject or lighting. Fortunately I got several others of the children that aren’t distorted. Nothing works better than having multiple exposures to choose from.
PS: Want to go on our next cool iPhone international artists’ workshop? The Amalfi Coast of Italy September 5-15 this year will be magical. Go to Flying Colors Art Workshops for details. Exotic Bali is planned for next year.