Redwoods are the main attraction at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains a hundred miles west of San Francisco. But in the summer people also follow a winding road eleven miles into the park interior to enjoy the Stanislaus River. A substantial concrete and steel bridge serves the relatively few visitors. The bridge provides a great vantage point for photographing river rocks and white water. Recently summer visitors added interest to the scene. I used my cell phone so I could do a mobile upload to my facebook page.
Photaf™ is an app for Android smart phones that automates taking and sharing panoramic photos. It has an automatic mode that uses the phone’s compass to guide positioning the camera to take overlapping images, and the shutter is clicked automatically in each new position. The stitched panorama can then be uploaded to the Photaf site, e-mailed, or shared on facebook. It does all the basics well, and panoramic snapshots are more fun than ordinary snapshots. Squeezing the best quality from Photaf requires some care, as we will discuss.
San Gregorio Beach, California, taken with Photaf on a Droid X
A higher resolution version is here. It’s the default resolution for e-mailing images.
Cameras built into cellphones have improved substantially. My Droid X phone captures 8 megapixel images through it’s tiny lens. Since I almost always carry a pocket camera I haven’t used the cellphone camera very much, but recently I decided to give it a try. One advantage of the cellphone camera is that the pictures can be sent out as e-mail directly from the spot where you took the picture. We’ve all seen the blurry products of those attempts, but it seems the problem is not always with the camera. In good light, they can take respectable pictures.
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