You don’t have to be a seamstress to use this app

First impressions

Way back in the day (further back than we’d care to admit), we used to have one of those wee disposable plastic cameras that enabled us to take panoramic pictures when the regular 4 x 6 scenario simply wouldn’t do.

It was fabulous to receive that long horizontal photograph once it had been processed, and even though the cameras were cheap little things, it was amazing what pictures they could produce.

Since those days, it has become possible to take panoramic shots on digital cameras and even with smartphones. As one must hold one’s device steady along the horizontal in order to get the best picture, the option hasn’t really been available on the iPad due to its weight. Luckily there’s an app for that.

AutoStitch allows you to take multiple photos, guides you as you go, and then magically “stitches” them together to create a fabulous panoramic shot.

We first tried it out on a trip to Honduras, and we have to say that we were mightily impressed with our results. National Geographic, here we come!

How it works

Download the app, and if you want to get some idea of how to use it (because there is no tutorial as such), tap on the “i” info button in the top left hand corner of the active screen. Here you’ll find instructions, options, ways you can share and “Useful Hints” – a particularly important section to read otherwise you might end up with all kinds of interesting results.

As you become more adept with how it all works, you can change the settings, set the focus and exposure, and try different output resolutions and blending modes.

There is a “Geotagging” option as well that when activated, will add your location to your panoramas, and you’ll also find many different import and export choices, including using existing photos that you’ve taken.

When you’re ready to take your panoramic shot, tap “Shoot Panorama” and aim your iPad camera at the point where you’d like your photo to begin. It will be surrounded by a green border, indicating that it’s fine to take the picture. Once you’ve snapped that, move your iPad along the horizontal until the border turns green again. A yellow border means it’s too soon to take the next shot, and a red border means you’ve gone too far.

The photos you take need to overlap by about 30 per cent, so just follow the green border and you’ll be good.

The app will allow you to take a number of photos, but depending on the quality of them and the fit, it may choose to not include a couple. It then “autostitches” them together so you can see the raw product, and lets you crop the panorama where you wiggled the iPad a bit so it has nice clean edges to it. Send it to your Facebook page, Twitter it, email it, or just save it to your iPad’s Camera Roll. Every panoramic shot you take will automatically save in the app as well.

When we tried it

We were on a private cay off the island of Guanaja when we first figured we’d test out our AutoStitch app. With lots of beach, water and sky before us, it seemed the perfect spot for a trial run.

The first time, our hand quivered all over the place, and so although the app did what it could, we still had a house that looked like something out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The second time we managed to keep our arm steady and we took eight photos, one after the next, ensuring that the green border was there at all times.

The app removed the last two photos – perhaps we had been a little too keen. The third time we only took six snaps, and that seemed to be the magic number. The app did its thing, it stitched away, and suddenly we had a beautiful panoramic shot of the beach from one end to t’other. One quick crop and it was ready to go. This was easy!

After that, there was no stopping us. We took panoramic shots of the resort, the sea, the hills, the resort and the beach all-in-one… We loved this app, and reckoned it would be difficult to go back to regular photos after seeing what we could do with it.

Final thoughts

This is great fun to use and with all the different available options, it is quite easy to manipulate your end result. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also as cheap as chips. You’d be surprised at the fabulous panoramic beauties you’ll be able to create. See you on the photo competition circuit!

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