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Posts from the ‘smartphone / iPhone photography’ category

Panoramic photography with android and iOS smartphones

The panoramic (Pano) feature in the standard iPhone Camera app is a great way to record wide and imersive scenes that you wouldn’t normally be able to capture in a single shot. Panoramic photography, just like any other type of image capture needs to be planned. What is the main subject, where should it appear in the composition? The stretched shape of the panoramic image is an unfamiliar format to most viewers so careful thought needs to be given to how you will lead their eyes through the picture.

Taken with an iPhone 7 using the 'Pano' option in the standard camera app. panoramic photography

Panoramic image of Pickering Station, North Yorkshire

Consider where the image will start and where it will finish. Are there any any distracting elements in the shot? If people or objects are moving through the scene, you could let them pass, if the distracting element is permanent you may need to choose a different composition or even remove it later in Photoshop. Check to see where the sun or other main lights are in the scene and prepare your exposure accordingly. The normal AE/AF lock (touch on a chosen area of screen for a couple of seconds) still works with the Pano option. In the shots of the station above, I locked the exposure on the station entrance to avoid this area overexposing.

Most smartphone photographers enjoy the portability of their camera and don’t want to be restricted by tripods or other accessories. For this reason, most smartphone photographs are taken ‘hand held’. The serious panoramic photographer would use a tripod and possibly a special panoramic tripod head designed for this type of work. The Pano feature in the camera app does provide some guidance for the smartphone photographer. The built in accelerometer detects when the camera is tilted away from its starting position and guides the user to make corrections. In the image below, the large white arrow is the current position of the camera, the yellow line is the level which you should try to keep the white angle on as you rotate.

Guidance arrow, Pano option of iOS Camera app

Guidance arrow, Pano option of iOS Camera app

In the screen shot from the camera app (above), the panoramic image will start on the left and pan right, this is the default but if you want to pan the other way, click on the large white arrow to swap.

You should practice the shot a couple of times to check if the composition works and how you rotate the phone and your body. You should check the shot carefully as some problems are hard to see on a small screen. Parallax is a major issue with panoramic photographs, particularly with subjects with a lot of straight lines such as the examples in this post. This is one of the main advantages in a dedicated tripod head. If possible, try to rotate the phone close to the body rather than at arms length.

Detail from panoramic shot showing distortion to track due to camera shake. panoramic photography

Detail from panoramic shot showing distortion to track due to parallax and some camera movement.


Detail of panoramic shot showing subject movement. panoramic photography

Detail of panoramic shot showing subject movement.

As the panoramic picture is recording an extreme wide angle image (up to 360 degrees) on to a flat 2D image it will often show extreme distortion (two images below).

Panoramic image from below a foot bridge. panoramic photography

Panoramic image from below a foot bridge. Taken with iPhone 7 and Moment Superfish lens.

Extreme wide angle image of station platform, Pickering Station. panoramic photography

Extreme wide angle image of station platform, Pickering Station

While it doesn’t quite fall into a post on panoramic photography, I thought I would test the TinType app on one of the pictures.  As a passionate film (analogue?) photographer I should have a real issue with apps like TinType but perhaps, it could be a ‘gateway’ app which opens people’s minds to the wonderful world of early photographic techniques?

Panoramic picture of Pickering Station taken with iPhone and processed with TinType. Panoramic photography

Panoramic picture of Pickering Station taken with iPhone and processed with TinType

All images taken in this post were shot on an iPhone 7, some were captured using the Superfish V1 Moment Lens.

All images taken at Pickering Station on North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Panoramic photography is just one of the topics I cover in my ‘Selfie Help Workshop’ to help people take better pictures or video with their smartphones. Please contact me if you would like more information.

Short training video shot with smartphone (iPhone SE)

Most smartphones are capable of producing good quality videos if used with care. This short instructional video was shot on an iPhone SE using FilmicPro.

This is a taste of what would be covered in a longer workshop. If you would like to learn more about my smartphone photography or videography workshops, please let me know.


Clients include; The Royal Photographic Society, the WI, Microsoft and the University of Bath.

Panoramic photography with an iPhone

The iPhone panoramic photography feature can produce amazing images if used with care. If it is a process you would like to explore further, you should practice test it in with a range of situations and subjects.

Before you start, you need to consider where the light is coming from to avoid lens flare. You should also decide what your main subject will be and where it will appear in the final composition. If there are rapidly moving subjects in the scene, these may appear squashed or stretched so you may need to wait until they have passed before you start the shot.

While natural scenes containing distant buildings, trees and countryside can stitch together reasonably well, modern buildings or interiors shot from closeup can cause problems.

For natural scenes, open the camera app, switch to the ‘Pano’ option and you will see a horizontal bar with a large arrow on it. The phone detects the angle you are pointing it in and the arrow tells you if you are tilting it up or down. When you click the shutter button, you then rotate the phone while trying to keep the large arrow on the line in the middle of the bar. If you deviate too far from the line, the camera won’t be able to create a smoothly stitched image.

iPhone pano display showing how to use the feature

iPhone pano display

Once complete, press the shutter button again to finish the panorama. The phone will then process the data and show you a finished panoramic image. These can be very large files compared to standard images and will rapidly use up space on your device.

Panoramic photography iPhone

Image captured with Pano option iPhone

Subjects containing strong lines close to the camera may challenge the cameras software and there may be issues where lines don’t stitch together very well. You may need to change the way you hold and rotate the phone to reduce this. Rather than holding the phone out and rotating around your hips, you could try rotating the camera around itself and the centre of the phone becomes the point of rotation, this is known as its ‘nodal point’. This is harder than it sounds. For serious panoramic photographers, there are special camera supports which rotate the camera around the nodal point.

Panoramic photography is just one part of my short iPhone photography workshop. If you would like a mobile phone photography workshop for your course, company or for personal development, do let me know.

Mobile phone photography and video – staff development activity

iPhone photography workshop

Our short, mobile phone workshop is an enjoyable and valuable staff development activity. The workshop explains a number of tips and tricks to help people take better pictures with their mobile phones.

Once the essential topics have been covered, the session can be more tailored to meet the needs of the attendees.

Topics might include.

  • Portraiture
  • Lighting
  • Product photography
  • Apps and Special effects
  • Taking images for social media, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn,
  • Flash lighting
    Iphone pano tool

    Iphone panoramic image


iPhone video capture workshop

In addition to the smartphone photography workshop, we also offer a video capture workshop. This can be run as a separate, standalone session or in addition to the photography workshop. The session will cover skills required to produce a high quality crowd funding video for platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

The session includes;

  • Planning a video shoot
  • Recording high quality sound
  • Time lapse
  • Slow motion
  • stabilising your phone

If you would like to know more, please contact for more information.

This can be delivered to individual learners or to groups of up to 100.

The session was informative and interactive, Nigel was friendly, approachable, encouraged questions, and gave time for experimenting.  Numerous times throughout the evening, one or another member could be heard saying “I had no idea my phone could do that!”.  We have no hesitation in recommending Nigel as a speaker to any group, large or small. Arwen Beaton, Brislington WI

The workshop has been delivered at a range of organisations including; Linguarama, Microsoft, WI, University of Bath and the Royal Photographic Society and for the 24 Hours in Bristol photomorathon

Iphone photography workshop

Iphone photography workshop