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Got a landscape to capture? Maybe it's time to enter the wide world of panoramic photography

October 30, 2013|By Christopher Reynolds
  • The hills are scattered with oaks along Ballard Canyon Road, just outside Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County wine country. As the sign in the foreground suggests, the area is full of vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms. Photo taken in 2012.
The hills are scattered with oaks along Ballard Canyon Road, just outside… (Christopher Reynolds /…)

It's a wide, wide, wide, wide world these days, and your iPhone is partly to blame.

Panoramic pictures have been popular since at least the 19th century, when painters labored for months over massive images (like this Gettysburg scene) and photographers used swiveling lenses atop a tripod to capture group photos. (Some still do, as this timeline attests.)

Wide-screen movies took the trend further. By 1963, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" was being released in Ultra Panavision with an aspect ratio of 2.76 to 1 -- an image almost three times wider than high.

More recently came software that lets you "stitch together" digital images. And then there's Apple’s iPhone 5, which has a simple software tool for shooting a wide photo without a tripod.

Once you know that option is there, it’s hard to resist.

Three of the pictures in the gallery above – the first, eighth and ninth – were taken with an iPhone. (Click here for a larger view.) The others were shot with a standard digital single-lense reflex camera, then cropped.  That doesn’t give you the same wrap-around effect as a true panorama -- for striking examples of the genre, look here or here.

But if you're taking travel pictures, a low, wide shape often works wonderfully with landscape pictures and can be a refreshing change from the 2-by-3 shape of so many photographs.

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