How to Have Plenty of Fun with Panoramas

Sunset Party on Mount Bonnell by Jann Alexander ©2014

The panorama feature on the iPhone is Apple’s way of saying, “Go have fun with your phone, and use your pano in whatever situation you find yourself — and your photographs will be remarkable.”

As fabulous as it gets on the iPhone, though, there’s even more fun to be had with photo editing apps.

Lonely on Antelope Flats iPhoneography by Jann Alexander © 2014

Nature deserves to be treated as spiritual: A panorama view of a stunning mountain landscape, with a lone tree in the flats, gets the Photo fx Ultra treatment. Various effects were used, but Glimmer Glass Edge Blur gave the image a more ethereal feel when applied using an iPad mini, with further edits on an iMac in Adobe Lightroom.

Hiking the Boggy Trail iPhoneography by Jann Alexander © 2014

Even as secluded woods beckon, they can be mysterious: Curiosity can be evoked on a hike over a running creek on a fine day can when the distance turns dark, with Photo fx Ultra’s softening effects and darkening filters; no further post-processing needed.

The End Is Nigh by Jann Alexander © 2014

Vistas are meaningless without visitors to view them: For visual interest, hikers looking off into the distance show us what to appreciate; and the vista can turn ominous with some moody filters applied in Photo fx Ultra.

Pano Bliss on the Summit by Jann Alexander © 2014

Mountains need people to show off their peaks: Landscape panoramas gain depth, and show size better, when there’s a happy skier placed off to one side. Edits made in Google Snapseed for shadow detail, highlights, sharpness and color will improve images made in the snow. Big plus: a panorama puts an end to the boring vacation shots at the summit.

Eatin’ Mudbugs by Jann Alexander © 2014

People belong in panoramas: Whether it’s a mudbug-eating contest in Louisiana, or a group of friends across the dance floor, large groupings can usually be better photographed with a panorama than with a stationary horizontal shot. No need to worry about movement; the effects of motion add life to an image. The contestants above put away more than a few pounds of crawfish, and were edited in Adobe Lightroom on an iMac. (The winner, a blind DJ with her own cheering squad, is seated just to left of center wearing a dark blue visor.)

Christmas Trimmings by Jann Alexander © 2014

Still life setups beg for panoramas, too: A tabletop of favorite castoff Christmas decorations, ready to go back in their boxes for another year, can make a sweet memory as a pano, with various Blur and Glow Effects applied in Photo fx Ultra. Any still life will do, though: try a before-and-after scenario when a table’s set for dinner guests, and after the guests depart.

Long Center Vista by Jann Alexander © 2014

What’s a city skyline for, if not a panorama? City skylines always beg for panoramas, and when the light is divine, they won’t need much tweaking in any app (though I did use Snapseed for a few edits here). I much prefer editing in Adobe Lightroom on my iMac when there’s lots of detail to see — as there is with the Austin, Texas skyline, seen across the river from the performing arts center’s huge plaza on a stunning Sunday afternoon.

Rainbow Pano by Jann Alexander ©2014

Rainbows were made for the iPhone’s panorama: The quality of this one didn’t disappoint. Just a few adjustments in Adobe Lightroom, for clarity, saturation, to open up the shadows and to tweak the sharpness were needed. The detail is so impressive that you can almost make out the pot of gold at the end. ♣

Have your own favorite apps for pano fun? Add to them to this list of the apps I used:

  • Google Snapseed is free on the App Store, and has it all. There’s really no need to get any other photo apps, unless you’re after even more artsy filters and features. Start here.
  • Photo fx Ultra is $4.99 on the App Store, and is made by Tiffen (the people who make SLR camera filters, so they know their photo filters); it has typical editing features and many nice adjustment tools, along with plenty of filters for layering effects, frames and more.
  • Adobe Lightroom is a must for serious image management and pro editing. If that’s your life, invest and use it on a big screen.

For plenty more iPhoneography tips and tricks, visit my blog, Pairings :: Art + What Goes With It. If you found this useful, will you please share it?

Connect with me on Twitter — Jann Alexander @AustinDetails

Originally published at on September 30, 2014.