Stuff's Guide to Photography: How to shoot panoramas

Give us five minutes, and we'll show you how to panorama like Paxman*.

You've probably used that Panorama feature on your phone or camera a couple of times for landscape shots and then left it where it is, but it's actually one of the best creative tools your camera has. If you don't believe us, join us on an adventure into a warped world of wrap-around wonders...

Take a 'global' panorama

You can make your corner of the world look exactly like a corner of the world by tilting your camera or phone as you pan. It's slightly counter-intuitive, so instead of panning in an arc like a rainbow, you pan from high up on your left, down to the right and back up again, like tracing out a big smile. Once your camera/phone has stitched the pic together, you'll have a curved horizon that makes your scene look like a little planet.

Stuff's Guide to Photography: How to shoot panoramas - Take a 'global' panorama 2

You can even go up and down in the same shot to create hills and valleys. This needs a bit of practice - if you move too much, the camera will realise it's being tricked and refuse to take the shot.

Go Vertical

Panoramas don't just have to be wide; they're a great way of fitting something tall into your picture. Start with your camera or phone pointing directly down and then move up towards the sky, and even back down to the ground behind you. It works well for quirky portraits and scenes where there are interesting features or textures from the ground to the sky, such as in a forest, on a beach with cliffs or in a cathedral.

More after the break...

Add some movement

Moving subjects can be unpredictable, but they can also create interesting effects that differ according to the camera you're using. With a swing-lens film camera such as the Lomography Horizon Kompakt, anything moving fast enough will be stretched or squashed. Use a digital camera or your phone and it might take a few goes, but you can end up with multiple appearances from people in the same shot.

READ MORE: How a little zoom can make a big difference

Look for long things

Of course, the main purpose of Panorama Mode is to take pictures of long things, so keep an eye out for queues, trains, buses or rows of anything noteworthy. Things closest to you are likely to appear much larger in the frame, so get nearer to the best bits. Don't be afraid to crop, either: if you chop off the first or final third of the picture, you'll give the eye a start and end point, and add prominence whatever was originally in the middle of the panorama.

READ MORE: why a prime lens should be your next camera upgrade 

go for a spin

For the apex in panoramic photography, check out the Lomography 360 Spinner. This crazy 35mm film camera has a lens that spins on top of a handle, exposing well over 360 degrees of the scene. Much fun can be had shooting at strange angles as well as on a level pitch.

To see all these images in full resolution, click here.

*Yes, Jeremy Paxman is best known for Newsnight, but he was on Panorama for several years.

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