The Canyon I (Rattlesnake)
Click the horizontal photo above for the full width.
Pano for iPhone is an impressive program. All in-iPhone–no need for Photoshop or plugins here–you can shoot a horizontal or vertical panorama. The top image is a panorama of two images attached on the top and bottom, the bottom image is a panorama of about four, attached on the left and right.
Shooting horizontally (the program’s default, which Pano calls “landscape”), you start from the left side of the image and shoot to the right. After you take a shot, the app asks if you are happy with your image or if you want to try again. After you click “Use Photo” you get a ghost image on the left side of the frame that helps you overlap the next piece of your panorama that continues to the right. The latest update of Pano now allows you to shoot up to six images for a super-wide panorama, or as few as two for a slightly wider version of a landscape image.
Shooting vertically (what the program calls “portrait”), you still move left to right, but you hold the iPhone in a vertical position. In other words, you still wind up with a horizontal panorama, just with narrower and taller pieces. I find this a little non-intuitive. When I shoot vertical panos, I want to do what I did in my top photo: create a vertical image mimicking the action of tilting your head up or down, not turning your head left to right. Wishlist for Pano: add an “up and down” pano option. As the program works right now, to shoot a vertical panorama, I have to use Pano in the default landscape mode, turn the iPhone sideways for a vertical composition (this hurts my brain), previsualize that I need to attach the second frame of my pano on the right side of my capture, and tilt the iPhone progressively downwards as I add frames. For some reason all of this feels awkward to me, and if I haven’t used the app in a couple of days, I get everything wrong, I hold the iPhone the wrong way around, I try to start from the bottom aiming up, and have to start over several times. There’s something off in usability here.
Reading over this description, I just bet someone is going to comment “I always turn the camera counterclockwise and shoot upwards and it works fine!” You’re probably left-handed, and I am very happy for you, but when I shoot a camera like my Canon 5D, I always, always turn my camera clockwise when I shoot a portrait orientation–for me, it has to do with the weight and ergonomics of the camera and the comfort of my wrists–and I can’t change my habits now just for the iPhone. My point is, shooting vertically could be implemented better.
BUT. I still love Pano, I really, really do. Panoramas give a really unusual feel to an image, especially if you can play with perspective and distance to make different parts of the image feel closer and further away from the viewer–this helps create a sense of depth, something we are always striving for in photography. Even when you don’t know that it’s a panorama comprised of multiple views, you feel that there’s something distorted or unusual about the image. You can achieve a faux-fisheye effect where you can still show certain details (like the branches, above) closer to the lens while getting a wider-lens horizon in the background. It’s a much different look than simply using your “foot zoom” and backing up several feet to get the whole image in one shot.
Then if you use a program like CameraBag to add a vignettte, you can tie the whole image together: darkened corners bring the viewer’s eye to the center of the photo, making it seem like one “natural” image instead of a compilation of pieces. I used the 1974 filter from CameraBag on both images to play up the warm yellows and desaturate the blues of the sky.
Rattlesnake Canyon is in the Tea Fire burn zone between Santa Barbara and Montecito. Those of you not in Santa Barbara may not have heard of the Tea Fire, which lasted four or five days in November and destroyed over 200 homes as well as back country nature preserve land. Two months after the Tea Fire, the landscape is still moonlike, covered in blackened manzanita trees and destroyed earth, but there are green shoots popping up everywhere. Life returns.