How to Shoot a Texas-Size Panorama

Texas-capitol-dome-panorama-interior

Top to Bottom in the Dome ©2014 Jann Alexander


There are architectural interiors so impressive that they demand photographs—even if the only camera you have on hand is within your iPhone—and the sheer scale of the Texas State Capitol interior’s dome makes it one of them.

When it was completed in 1888, the Texas State Capitol building was the seventh largest in the world. By design, the Capitol’s builders aimed to exceed the height of our nation’s Capitol building by 23 feet. Today the red granite structure remains one of a handful of state capitol buildings that are taller than the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Of course it is; it’s in Texas.)

But with an interior height measuring 266 feet from the dome’s skylight to the tiled inlaid terrazzo marble star on the floor, no mere iPhone shot will do. You’re going to have to pull out the big guns (of course you are; you’re in Texas).

You’re going to need to shoot a vertical panorama.

How do you shoot like a Texan? You shoot big, that’s how.   

It’s easier than you’d think. Here’s how to shoot like a Texan. First, load your settings:

  • Choose your iPhone’s panorama setting (scroll to the right from “Photo” to find it)
  • Turn your iPhone sideways (that’s horizontal, or landscape mode)
  • Aim up, to begin your pano from the top, and tap the top of the panorama corridor so the image appears atop the yellow line there, with the big white arrow pointing down
Vertical Pano Screenshot by Jann Alexander ©2014

What you’ll see onscreen: Vertical Pano Screenshot | Jann Alexander ©2014


Now you’re ready to shoot like a Texan:

  • Tap the control to begin shooting your pano, and move the phone down continuously and evenly to keep the arrow on track, until you arrive at the very bottom of your image area
  • And you’re done. Unless you want to try it again in reverse, starting from the bottom and moving up, to compare your two efforts
  • And perhaps you want to vary your shooting location: you have a choice of balconies within the Capitol building to shoot from

Consider shooting your panoramas a few times, a few ways, so you’ll be able to choose from among the best shots. And post-processing will almost certainly be needed, since you’ve been shooting indoors. Your panorama image may have encountered a few different lighting situations and temperatures during its long journey down from the top to the floor, and you’ll be able to improve on that with an app like Snapseed on your iPhone, or later on at your Mac, using Adobe Lightroom.

Vertical panoramas can be used with great effect in cityscapes on the tall buildings you may encounter; they can be used for humor when making portraits; they can be used on huge redwoods, on hook-and-ladder trucks, on jolly green giants—in short, on anything tall.

Most of which you’ll no doubt find in Texas. (Of course you will; everything’s taller here.) ♣  

What interesting methods have you discovered to shoot panoramas?


My vertical panorama, Top to Bottom in the Dome (and my two non-panos, Looking Up at the Dome and Under the Dome, above) were shot with my iPhone 5s and edited solely in Adobe Lightroom. Read more about how I edit images with my iPhone, iPad apps and Lightroom HERE. And there’s plenty more iphoneography and inspiration on view each week at Lens and Pens by Sally, where this week’s challenge to iphoneographers features a variety of subjects. 


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7 replies

  1. Delighted that you did such a comprehensive post on panorama. I planned to add panorama to the list next month for the Challenger’s Choice. I will mention your post in mine. The combination of architecture and a panoramic view gives a feeling of being in the image. Well done. Happy Photo Challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great, Sally, happy to know you’re adding that category, and the link is appreciated. I think it’s an overlooked feature of many iPhones (as these posts would indicate: ) and I’m on a mission to encourage folks to discover the amazing overlooked power of their creativity! Besides, shooting panoramas is so satisfying and just plain fun.

      Like

    • Great question, Allan, and so far I have not. Editing to balance the light is to be expected in panos, since they cover a lot of territory; thereafter, I generally boost the overall color and sharpeness a bit. The iPhone panos are remarkably perfect first time out!

      Liked by 1 person

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