Lesson 68: Panoramic Upgrade

One of the features of the new iPhone 5S that contributed to my decision to upgrade was the enhanced exposure while taking panoramic photos.  Panoramic photos are just plain fun.  They give you the option of capturing a scene that is far wider than your lens.  And, they let you bend reality into a half circle.

The problem with the iPhone 5S predecessors that support panoramic photos is that the exposure is set by the brightness of the area where you start your photo and then the same exposure is applied throughout the entire shot, even if the brightness of the scene changes dramatically by the time you get to the end of the shot.  This results in images like this one, taken using the iPhone 4S:

Notice how my husband and dog in front of the stone building (all in the shade) are properly exposed, but everything in the bright sun is overexposed.

What changed in the iPhone 5S is that the exposure now adjusts as you move through the process of capturing a panoramic.  The actual steps to capture a panoramic haven’t changed significantly–the only difference is that you now swipe to change modes from “regular” photos to panoramic (or square or video).  For detailed instructions on how to create a panoramic with an iPhone 4S, see Lesson 27.

The fact that the exposure now adjusts allows for panoramic photos with dramatic differences in brightness from beginning to end like this one, shot with the iPhone 5S:

Notice how even with the sun in one side of the image, the exposure is pretty decent throughout.  Of course, this isn’t quite a fair comparison–the 4S example was shot in the middle of the day.

If you’re shooting with a predecessor to the iPhone 5S, you’re best option is to try to start your panoramic in a part of the scene that is about halfway between the darkest and brightest areas of the scene, even if it means you have to crop part of the image away later.

Your Assignment:  Experiment with Panoramic photos.  What kinds of settings work best as panoramic images?  How far away do you have to be from the objects in the scene to avoid bending them into a giant U?  Can you find a way to get a decent exposure with a predecessor to the iPhone 5S?

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