8 Ways You're Screwing Up Panoramic Shots On Your iPhone

Published On 08/24/2015 Published On 08/24/2015
Flickr/kaptainkobold/Gunter Ganz (Edited)

Ever since Apple unleashed the panorama feature for the Camera app, amateur photographers have been making use of their iPhones and iPads to capture the kind of shots that used to require professional equipment.

The results have been, well, mixed. Having a panorama feature available is not the same thing as knowing how best to use it. Here are the eight most common mistakes you're making taking panoramas, and the eight ways to fix them.


1. You're only using it for horizontal shots

While a typical panoramic shot, by definition, involves moving the camera horizontally, you can achieve a unique effect by simply selecting the panorama feature, tilting your iPhone to a landscape view, then panning up while you take the shot. This is helpful if you’d like to get a full picture of a tall structure while standing close to it, if you want to capture a common scene in a new way, or if you want an OKCupid profile pic that makes you look a little taller than you actually are.


2. You're only panning to your right

By default, your iPhone will position the arrow as if you’re taking the shot from left to right. You don't need to stick with this option, though. If you think you could get a better shot going from right to left, just tap the arrow before starting the shot, and it will switch to the other side of the screen.

Flickr/Jacob Caddy/Paul Williams/Stephen Rahn (Edited)

3. You're not holding it steady

In order to capture a quality panoramic shot, you have to hold the phone as steady as you can while panning. The iPhone lets you know how you're doing with a horizontal line running across the middle of the screen. Your goal is to keep the arrow running smoothly along that line. If you start to waver, your iPhone will let you know whether you need to move down or up to correct the problem. The easiest way to fix this is to simply hold the iPhone with two hands while panning.



4. You're panning too quickly

While shooting a panoramic shot, you have to make sure you keep moving. But if you pan too quickly, the camera won't be able to keep up, images might go out of focus, and you won't get the shot you want. Pay attention to any prompts from your iPhone telling you to take it slow. A good panoramic shot won't be as spontaneous as some of your other mobile pictures, but patience pays off.


5. You're taking the same photo over and over

With the panorama feature, you're no longer limited by the typical photo framing options you've been used to. Check out at these two images. On the right, we have a shot that's as impressive (and depressing) as a crime scene photo. You'd probably walk on by without even thinking of getting the camera out. On the left, though, we get what happens when you decide to take a vertical panorama and keep panning until you're aiming almost behind your own head. As with any of Apple's creativity-igniting innovations, the best way to get the most out of this feature is to push the limits of what it can do.


6. You're not shooting inside enough

First of all, for a beginner, it might not be best to use the panorama feature indoors if you're trying to snap some conventional images. While a seasoned pro could definitely get some stunning images from a confined setting, for most of us, this style of shooting is best for outdoor scenes. That said, in the spirit of experimentation, a shift in perspective can result in disorienting, expressionistic shots that, at the very least, will expand how you think about using your iPhone's camera.


7. You're shooting in areas that are too busy

Because the panoramic images created with the iPhone technically consist of several pictures digitally stitched together, shooting in an area that’s too busy could result in mistakes like those seen above. Sure, that may start to look interesting eventually, but only if you took way more drugs than you should ever take.

Flickr/Ray Bouknight

8. You're not printing your best ones

With some practice, you can get to a point where your panoramic shots are actually worth showing off. Posting them to your social media accounts isn't the only way, or even the best way, to share them.

If you've managed to capture a panorama so stunning you think it deserves to be framed, iPanorama Prints lets you order high-quality prints of your images in numerous sizes. After all, your iPhotography skills won't be that impressive to anyone if they're only showcased on your Facebook wall. 

Joe Oliveto is a staff writer for Supercompressor, and he once took exclusively panoramic shots for an entire vacation when he discovered this feature. Follow him on Twitter.

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