The Least You Need to Know about Phone Camera Functions (Part 2)

After the temporary tangent onto the philosophy behind photography, let us direct our attention back to the capabilities of basic smartphone cameras.


Panorama: One of the features I always hope to have in a camera is a wide view of the surroundings. You see, I usually try to match the picture I take to the image my eye sees it. The existence of peripheral vision in humans and the lack of it in cameras, however, mean that one cannot easily capture objects on the edges of a photo. I felt this limitation this weekend as I traveled to Meadow Lake. The endless group of trees surround the huge lake before, and at that moment I felt the vastness of the land. However, this vastness cannot be conveyed with a single photo because the photo simply would not be big enough! That’s where the panorama mode would come in. In this mode, pictures are taken as the user rotates on the spot, and these pictures are stitched together in the end to form a picture that contains 360 degrees of surroundings. Here is an example of one.

iOS-6-Panorama1“IOS 6 Panorama.” IPhone Photography School, IPS Media LLC. , 14 July 2013,                                                                     Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.

See how pano mode can be helpful to us? A critical artist might have picked up still another imperfection of the picture above: It appears too long and narrow. The problem is that to capture the horizontal length, the final image appears to lose its vertical height. The camera simulated the left and right of our peripheral vision, but not the top and bottom parts. The solution to this requires using special apps to take 360-degree-pano, which I will cover another day.

Another interesting thing I note is that in panorama mode, the camera fails to re-adjust the exposure as the camera moves. This makes sense because if the same object appears to have different brightness in two photos, the phone would have a hard time stitching them together. Still, it seems like an interesting approach to overcome. I have been trying to take the scene as continuous shots and stitch them afterwards, but I have not found appropriate software. Any ideas?

Did you know that you can take panoramas vertically, too? Just move up or down instead of sideways. This is especially good for tall buildings, mountains, or just something awesome that has you looking up and down! (This has been tested on both Android and iPhone, but on an iPhone one might need to rotate the phone.)

Continuous Shot is simple enough. It is the mode in which you can, by keep holding onto the “capture” button, take many images in quick succession. It is extremely useful for taking pictures of quick-moving people, sports events, animals, and so on. After the burst of images are produced, you can choose the best of all images. I love this comment on the burst mode I found: “All you need to do is hold the shutter button down while the person takes a few steps, and you’ll have plenty of images to choose from”(Zappa). If there is one mode that illustrates the importance of timing in photography and simplicity of it, it is this one.

So that’s it for this week. Soon I will be adding an “Other Resources” page in my blog that hopefully will broaden your horizon of cellphone photography. Also, the ideas and feedback I received from you are valuable. I will be alternating between these ideas in my next posts. Stay tuned!


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