Journal

#panogramtastic

The instrument is not the camera, but the photographer.
— Eve Arnold

I've long been inspired by the wonderfully imaginative work of Kevin Meredith, aka @lomokev on just about every social media. For years, he's been making montage portraits & posting them on Flickr. I don't frequent Flickr much anymore (besides pushing my mobile photos there), but those montage portraits have stayed with me and were one of the primary sources of inspiration behind the #panogramtastic portraits I'm doing on Instagram.

montage portraits by Kevin Meredith, aka LomoKev

montage portraits by Kevin Meredith, aka LomoKev

I'm consistently fascinated at how people use technology in ways the creator never intended. This seems especially true of photo related technology. The camera is the proverbial box & throughout history, photographers have refuse to be constrained by it. I think that spirit is what first pushed me to to move beyond Instagram's square.

If you haven't seen one, this is a #panogramtastic:

Crested-Butte-in-app-panogramtastic-by-Trey-Hill

Three images that create a single image. That's it. This first how-to is going to walk you through how you can create your own:

Step 1: Create your panorama

There are a number of apps that will allow you to pan through a scene to create a panoramic image. The one I have been using most, since upgrading to the iPhone 5, comes built in to the iPhone's native camera app.

To get there, click 'Options' at the top of the frame, then select 'Panorama'. Now, I've found it's best to take a second to figure out how you want to move the camera through the scene and pre-select what will be your hero frame. It doesn't have to be dead center, either. Whether you weight the left or right side of the frame, or go for some dramatic symmetry, you need to know what composition you're trying to achieve.

select 'Panorama' from the options menu, then lock your focus point on your subject

select 'Panorama' from the options menu, then lock your focus point on your subject

Once you have that figured out, park your camera on your subject and lock your exposure. As I discussed last week, you can lock exposure and focus by pressing and holding the spot you want in focus until the focus square flashes two times. Once you have your focus and exposure locked (indicated by the AE/AF Lock message at the bottom of the frame) you can reset your frame to the furthest left position and sweep your camera through the scene (from left to right). Make sure you move slowly and steadily, otherwise you can end up with some crazy stitching errors.

Step 2: Edit the full panorama in the app of your choice

Now that you have your completed panorama image, it's time to edit. Of all the steps, this is where you are free to do as much or as little as you'd like. Push yourself creatively and create something unique. If the 1's & 0's captured by the image sensor are the notes on the sheet of music, editing is the place where you can be Thom York or Beyonce. Embellish and improvise until you've found your unique voice.

my editing tool of choice for my panoramas is Snapseed, by Nik Software

my editing tool of choice for my panoramas is Snapseed, by Nik Software

Step 3: Crop the panorama into 3 squares

I'm sure there are a dozen or more ways to work out how to turn your panorama into the three separate images you need to create a #panogramtastic, but this is the method I've found works best for me.

Open up Snapseed & import your fully edited panorama. If you've done all of your editing in Snapseed, make sure you export that image to your camera roll and re-import it. This will allow you to use the handy revert action to reset the image after each crop. Before I actually make that first crop, I make a plan so that the final composition doesn't have any overlapping areas or extra large gaps.

first, identify how you want to frame the subject of your finished image

first, identify how you want to frame the subject of your finished image

Remember that point in the frame that you focused on? Move your crop tool and frame up the subject of your image. Note where the frame edges fall. Repeat this process until you know exactly where you want each of the 3 crops to land.

Once you have your crops defined, start with the far right image & make your crop, then export the image to your camera roll and press the revert arrow in the upper left hand corner of the app. Repeat this process, moving right to left, until you have all 3 frames exported and in your camera roll.

using Snapseed's revert button saves you a ton of time

using Snapseed's revert button saves you a ton of time

Step 4: Upload to Instagram

When I started this series, I noted that the point of photography has always been to share what you've seen. So, jump on Instagram & upload the photos (starting with the far right frame). I like to caption all 3 of my photos exactly the same, but give them an (x/3) distinction.

make sure you upload from right to left in Instagram

make sure you upload from right to left in Instagram

You can also share these in Facebook, but you have to upload them from left to right for the effect to work. If you're pushing your instagrams through to Flickr, you don't need to make any changes for them to show up properly - at least in their mobile app.

What you do in this step is really up to you, but I would love to see people sharing their creations using the hashtag #panogramtastic. Of course, don't let yourself be limited by what I'm doing. If you have any ideas for how to push mobile photography beyond the bounds of the technology we have in our pockets, please share them. I'd love to see what you're doing.

Part I: The Original Social Media

Part II: Mobile Photography Apps

Part III: #panogramtastic

Part IV: Kyle Steed