|iPhone Vertical Panorama, La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona|
Here's a test for you…. Can you tell the difference between an iPhone panorama (using the iPhone panorama feature) and one created by shooting a series of overlapping images and then stitching them together in Photoshop? One of the panoramas below was shot with an iPhone, the other with a DSLR shooting several vertical, overlapping images that were stitched together. See if you can tell the difference.
iPhones and other cell phone cameras have changed photography in a lot of ways. No longer do we have to carry a camera with us to capture those fleeting Kodak moments. Who doesn't have a phone in their pocket or purse than can be whipped out and used on a moment's notice? And as cell phone camera technology has grown by leaps and bounds, the image quality of a cell phone image will rival that of a lot of point and shoot digital cameras.
Until recently, I never used my iPhone camera for anything other than the occasional quick shot if I didn't have a DSLR on hand. But with the advent of the panorama feature on my iPhone camera, I find myself using my it to capture panoramas to supplement whatever I'm shooting with my DSLR's.
I mentioned image quality a moment ago. One of the reasons why I hardly ever used my cell phone camera for anything seriously photographic was the small file sizes that didn't lend themselves to reaching print quality, i.e. generating an image size at least 8 1/2 X11 at 300dpi after cropping. That image size is approximately 5MB. iPhone panoramas (with my iPhone 6) generate file sizes that are well over 20MB, easily meeting my threshold for print quality so I no longer hesitate to grab my iPhone when a panorama is in order.
|Full frame fisheye shot cropped as a panorama - Nikon D3S, 15mm f2.8 fisheye lens|
|Typical iPhone panorama orientation|
The other day, I was all set to shoot a panorama and accidentally hit the shutter button while I was holding the phone in a horizontal orientation. As an image was unknowingly being recorded I moved the phone in an upward direction. When I realized that I had pressed the shutter button, I pressed the shutter button again and saw the image that was generated…you could have knocked me over with a feather - a vertical panorama! Why hadn't I thought to do that before?
That got me thinking. There have been many times when I wanted to fit something tall in a frame but the only way to do it was to shoot my DSLR vertically and hope I had a sufficiently wide lens to get it in the frame. But sometimes I just didn't have a lens that was wide enough. Option 2 was to keep backing up until everything fit in the frame, but sometimes that wasn't possible.
|Orientation for shooting a vertical panorama|
Enter the vertical iPhone panorama. I can just hold the camera horizontally in panorama mode and move the camera up (or down, depending on where I start the frame) until I've got everything I want in the frame.
The scene in the iPhone image above (final image on the right) was my first, intentional vertical panorama. It was a test to see what would happen with a really tall building as my subject but with stuff (people) in the foreground that I also wanted to include in the image. We were outside the Cathedral in Barcelona where on Sunday mornings people gather and join in a traditional Catalan folk dance called the Sardana. I pulled out my iPhone, set it to panorama mode, held the phone horizontally, pressed the shutter button, and moved the phone upward until I had gotten the people dancing and the entire height of the Cathedral in the frame.Not too shabby, I thought to myself. Then the wheels in my little head really started spinning. What would images look like, say inside a Cathedral, and I moved the phone from ground level all the way up to an overhead orientation? That would capture not only the altar but possibly the gorgeous, unique ceilings that decorate such buildings. La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona with its Gaudi-gaudy features would be the perfect opportunity to get vertical, so to speak, and by coincidence we were headed there for a visit the next day.
As soon as we arrived at La Sagrada Familia, I made a bee line for a spot directly in front of the altar, just to one side, and shot a vertical panorama that captured the scene until just below the ceiling.It was an interesting image (below) but I wanted to push the envelope.
|La Sagrada Familia, floor to below ceiling|
|Side angle including the ceiling overhead|
This is what it looks like.
Because photos were not allowed to be taken from a spot smack dab in the middle of the Cathedral, I wasn't able to get the center of the ceiling centered in the image - it's off center to the right (or actually, bottom since I've rotated the image from a vertical orientation to horizontal). But my experiment verified that a 180 degree vertical panorama was not only possible, it created an image that has a unique visual effect.
As opportunities present themselves, I plan to continue trying different vertical panoramas as I think I've just scratched the surface in terms of possibilities. For now, I thought I'd pass this technique along in case you think it might be useful to you.