A Wide, Wide View

Sometimes you have to take a picture just because you want to see if it can be done. Such was the case when I was walking back to the recording studios in Graz, Austria, with another trainer. On the way back I suggested a route that would take us up Niesenbergergasse, where there’s some rather substantial graffiti artwork along a couple of long walls. The other trainer had never seen these walls before, and agreed that they were pretty impressive even if they weren’t your type of art. In passing, he wondered if we could use the iPhone panoramic capture mode to record the entire wall. He was leaving the next day, and it was already dark, so it would be my job to test it out. It turns out it was possible. Sort of.


First, for those not familiar, allow me to explain the panoramic capture mode available on the iPhone (at least in recent versions of iOS). You essentially capture what would otherwise be a video clip, panning along a subject. An arrow helps you maintain proper alignment as you move. The general idea, I think, is that you can simply stand in one position and take in a wide view by panning the camera. But that wouldn’t work in this particular case, for a variety of reasons.

So, instead I was going to need to walk along the full length of the wall, hopefully with some degree of stability. But there was another wrinkle. The iPhone can only capture a panoramic image in this way that spans a total of 10,800 pixels. To cover the full length of just one of the walls of graffiti required five sequential captures. So I knew I was dealing with a large image here.

To be honest, I didn’t even bother trying to assemble the full-resolution version of the panorama. Right from the start I sized the images down to a more manageable size. Then there was another wrinkle. For some reason Photoshop couldn’t automatically align the images, so I had to assemble the panorama the “old fashioned way”, manually aligning the images and blending with layer masks. That sure brought back memories of a simpler time!

As you can probably imagine, especially if you’ve ever had the opportunity to witness my slightly (not really) clumsy nature, the images didn’t come together perfectly. To begin with, the individual captures had a bit of a zig-zag nature to them. For the most part this wasn’t too obvious considering the subject matter, but a small ledge toward the bottom of the wall turned out to be anything but straight in all of the individual captures.

The final panorama was also a little tricky to put together, but it did work. The final image (again, after having reduced the pixel dimensions of the source images) is 21,165 pixels by 1,006 pixels. So if I were to print the image at 6″ tall, it would end up being over ten feet wide. That’s a rather wild aspect ratio. But it was a rather wide subject, so that makes sense.

Of course, I don’t have any need for this photo, and there were certainly more important things I should have been doing with my time. But sometimes you just have a take a break and give something a try just to see how it turns out.

If you’re so inclined, you can view a larger version of this panorama in your browser by clicking the image below:

About Tim Grey

Tim Grey is in the business of making photographers smarter and happier. He is the author of more than a dozen books on digital imaging for photographers, has written hundreds of magazine articles, and publishes the Ask Tim Grey e-mail newsletter as well as the Pixology digital magazine. He also speaks at a variety of events and leads photography workshops around the world.
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3 Responses to A Wide, Wide View

  1. Jeff Greene says:

    Impressive, sir.
    I think you can now legitimately stake a claim to “pioneering” iPhone UberPanos.


  2. Sounds like it took a lot of work but in the end turned out a beautiful result.
    thanks for sharing!

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