I-phone panoramic photos?

The philosophy and techinques of taking photographs. Discussions of equipment, editing, and software.

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
Joe

I-phone panoramic photos?

Post by Joe » Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:50 am

I'm behind the times with "smart" cell phones- my only phone probably dates to the early 2000s so it's pretty stupid. So, my nephew just sent me a photo which is just shy of 360 degrees of a forest- taken with his I-phone and it's panoramic function. I think this is very cool because I like wide angle shots- but it's much better because there's no distortion! I don't recall seeing anyone in this BBS uploading such photos- but I hope you do. When I see a great tree, I also like to see it in the context of the surrounding forest- so closeups plus the almost 360 deg. image would be ideal. If any of you are doing this- please show us! Though, it may be best to reduce the file size using any good image software.

uh, now that I think about it- I have seen some photos here where some kind of pan function was used to show the full height of some trees- but I don't recall seeing any 360 deg. images
Joe

User avatar
RayA
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:21 am

Re: I-phone panoramic photos?

Post by RayA » Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:00 pm

Joe,

I just started experimenting with the panoramic feature too. I downloaded a free Iphone app called Photosynth, which seemed to promise better functionality than the built-in Iphone app. So far, I've gotten mixed results with it, and not terribly encouraging. With it, you take a series of shots to compose the entire scene you want to capture, then it stitches those together into one photo. It has difficulty doing that well when there's a difference in lighting between the shots. Eg, if I shoot the base of a tree, then shoot higher and higher up the trunk, the lighting of the sky is much brighter than the ground-level shot, and that shows up as a bad stitch-job in the end result. It can't smooth out the transitions in lighting between the segments. And if you overlap part of one shot with the next, that overlapped area comes out too dark. Also, some objects (trees, in this case), don't line up properly at the boundaries of the segments (see the rightmost tree in first photo).

With the built-in Iphone panorama function, you don't take separate shots to compose the photo, you just slowly move (pan horizontally or vertically) the camera until you reach the end of the area you want to capture (like taking a video). The app apparently decides how many shots to take during that time, then stitches them together. It actually seems to do a better job than the Photosynth app, though a review I read would suggest otherwise.

Here's 2 photos taken of a butternut tree with an Iphone-5 (IOS 8.0.2), using the Photosynth app. In each, you can see the boundary lines between the stitched segments, and the quality is poor:
Butternut-1.jpg
Butternut-2.jpg
Here's another shot (Visitors Center at Mt Tom, Mass) taken with the same camera, with the built-in app:
IMG_1176.JPG
Another, but a wider pan ... now there's noticeable curvature in the photo from the wide angle pan:
IMG_1175.JPG
Finally, here's one where I panned vertically (with the built-in app) to get the tall pine tree next to the building (ok, so there's another branch in the way; never said I was any good at this):
IMG_1165.JPG
I was really hoping to get some "Wow!" photos of entire, tall trees, and live happily ever after, with a hat that says "photogenius" on it. So far, although Photosynth sounded promising, I haven't had much luck with it in the woods. But I just got it, and need to experiment more. So at this point, the built-in app seems to do a reasonably good job. It's entirely possible I'm not being careful enough when taking the series of shots in Photosynth, which may cause it to mess up. Then again, it's a free app ... that might explain it too. Hey-- maybe I AM a genius after all !! :)


All in all, I think there's definitely some promise in using the panoramic feature to get the full height of a tree, and I plan to do more experimenting to find out how useful it may be. The latest IOS 8 now even has a time-lapse function ... not too useful for photographing trees, but maybe I can get us a few chuckles with a short time lapse clip of Uncle Bob L. scurrying around a tree, Charlie Chaplin-like.

User avatar
RayA
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:21 am

Re: I-phone panoramic photos?

Post by RayA » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:47 pm

Just went outside to try some simple shots, with the built-in Iphone panoramic feature, and with Photosynth panoramic.

First, I took a regular, non-panoramic shot toward a pine tree at the back of the yard. In this shot, you can see almost nothing of the tree, mostly just foreground stuff (I did this as a baseline, to show what you can do with the panoramic feature from a given position).

Next, without moving the camera from that position, I switched it to the built-in panoramic function, and panned vertically to capture the whole tree. Although the sky is gray and the shot is overexposed, you can see that I could now capture the whole tree (see second photo).

Then I switched to Photosynth and used it to take a panoramic shot again (photo 3). A little underexposed maybe, but it seemed to work reasonably well.

From the position I was standing in, I wouldn't be able to capture the whole tree using the "normal" still photo function. So, I think we'll be able to use this feature to advantage. Might have to play around with it to get decent exposures, composition, etc.
Taken with Iphone-5 IOS-8, built-in app in normal photo mode
Taken with Iphone-5 IOS-8, built-in app in normal photo mode
Taken from same position, with Iphone-5 IOS-8, built-in app in panorama mode
Taken from same position, with Iphone-5 IOS-8, built-in app in panorama mode
Taken from same position, with Iphone-5 IOS-8, Photosynth app panorama
Taken from same position, with Iphone-5 IOS-8, Photosynth app panorama

User avatar
Rand
Posts: 1217
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:25 pm

Re: I-phone panoramic photos?

Post by Rand » Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:36 pm

Ray,

The iPhone has built in accelerometers that can precisely track the motion of the phone, and then snap the shutter at the exact moment each successive frame would abut the previous one.

User avatar
Don
Posts: 1569
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:42 am

Re: I-phone panoramic photos?

Post by Don » Tue Oct 14, 2014 11:22 pm

Ray/Joe/Rand-
My only two cameras, a Sony HXV-9 (a travel zoom, 24-384 equivalent of 35mm lenses) and my iPhone 4S (with upgraded OS that includes the panaroma software) have similar Panorama features.

It helps to get them set up on a Tripod (one with level bubble on base plate, so that panning from left to right is done on level plane)...for the iPhone, Belkin has an attachment that allows you to mount to tripod and trigger manually from the attachment (and another remote accessory control option too).
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

User avatar
Rand
Posts: 1217
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:25 pm

Re: I-phone panoramic photos?

Post by Rand » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:39 am

One of the annoying tech oddities of the last coupe of years, is that automatic panoramic stitching came to low end cameras before it showed up in higher end dslr's....and now keeping your camera current is as financially onerous as maintaining a PC. I saw it summed in a book once like this:

"What do you get when you combine a computer with some other consumer appliance?"
"Thats right...you get a computer!"

Post Reply

Return to “Photography Techniques”