There are a whole bunch of devices that hold a smartphone or camera and turn it as the lens scans the landscape. These sell for around $15 to $50 and use your camera’s software for stitching together single shots into a panoramic view. Most smart phones have a “panorama mode,” though you may have to dig through menus to find it. Once you’re in panorama mode, you yourself become the device that turns the camera. Hold her steady.
We tried one called “Panoramic Pod” because it was cheap — $28, and required no batteries; it was spring driven, like a windup toy. The cellphone mounts on a small spring box, which in turn can be stood on any flat surface or on a small tripod that comes with it. You can set the degree of rotation from full circle to any part thereof; so we set it for 180 degrees, a half circle. A full circle can be disconcerting because it shows you everything that’s around — and so few of us have eyes in the back of out heads. The results were okay, but frankly no better than when Joy held the smartphone and pivoted like a ballerina.
To find panorama instructions, do a Google search for your phone or camera’s manual. You’ll find that there are also panoramic apps. In doing that search, we discovered that our three-year old Samsung Galaxy phone has more camera features than we thought. If we press “beauty” mode, for example, wrinkles are smoothed out. “Smile shot” waits to take a picture until the subject smiles. “Buddy Share shot” uses facial recognition to automatically send the photo to the friends who are in it. Science marches on.