How to create panoramic photos on Instagram using carousel

Instagram brought out its new carousel feature earlier this year, and one of its benefits is the ability to share panoramic pictures. In this blog post, I’m going to guide you through the process of creating such post with ordinary panoramic photos, and photos taken in 360 degrees. [tweet this]

The original panoramic

To begin with, you need a panoramic photo. Here’s one I took, using the panoramic function on an iPhone.

Colour edits are much easier to make at this point, but Instagram filters can still be applied later. If this was opened in Instagram straight away, a portion of the photo would be cropped. Instead, I use the app Panols. This app will split any photo into 3 new square photos, and save them to your camera roll.

There is an added bonus of being able to select which part of the photo is cut, with a small preview.

In my panoramic photo, I’ve zoomed in slightly to get a closer shot of the Birmingham skyline. Once it was exported, the individual squares looked like this.

Once you’re in Instagram, you can use the carousel post to include these three square images and the panoramic will be a seamless swipe-through. Here’s that very post on my Instagram account – and remember, it’s better viewed within the app where you can swipe seamlessly between frames.

Continuous with 360º

Using the same app, we can create a panoramic photo that doesn’t appear to have an end. 360º photos are already supported on Facebook, but surprisingly not on Instagram – so to get around the inability to change the direction of view, we instead turn back to carousel posts to post 360º photos.

The ‘flat’ 360º image will look a bit like this. I used a Theta S camera, and took this photo while filming a piece for my MA by Practice project. It is worth noting how the image becomes distorted towards the bottom and top.

Once Panols is opened, you have the same ability to zoom in and change the proportions of the image to be exported into 3 squares. However for a photo to appear continuous, the edges of the original photo need to be kept. I find that keeping the preview grid where it lands by default, at the centre-point vertically but stretched horizontally, will give the best results.

Exporting the image in Panols will create three squares, but anybody familiar with Instagram knows that a carousel post will allow up to 10 pictures to be shared at the same time – which is great for a continuous photo. By exporting the image three times from Panols, you result with 9 images. Three of the first panel, three of the second, and three of the third.

The photos can sometimes appear out of order, but as long as you have exported them correctly it doesn’t matter which order you upload the first panel. What does matter though, is that the second and third panel follow in order, and the remaining six images are selected in sequence.

The next step is for filters, but this should come with a warning: some filters have ‘edging’ where the edge of the photo becomes darker, lighter, or of different contrast to the centre. The app see’s this carousel post as nine individual photos, not one panoramic, and so doesn’t know the difference between one frame and the next. Therefore, filters with edging will look awkward and obvious when you slide from one to the next. The best filters are ones that have continuous effect – like Inkwell and Clarendon – while Mayfair and X-Pro II are the worst offenders.

After upload, the resulting image should look a little like this. As before, the best experience is on the app itself so open this page on a mobile device and tap the picture below to view it.

I’ve shared a number of carousel posts in this style on my Instagram profile (@iamsamuelgould), with a few other examples below.


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