Geek alert: enter the Image Ninja!

I’ve returned from my holidays in lovely Tenerife. Beautiful volcanic islands, grandiose landscapes… you either capture them in panorama or you don’t capture them at all. (In all honesty, even panorama doesn’t do justice, of course.)

So of course standing there in awe, looking at the beauty of let’s say Mount Teide, and thinking about the forces that created it, the question that literally everyone on Planet Earth would be asking is:

How do you capture all this beauty in Instagram?

Although Instagram now offers portrait photo upload as a feature, aspect ratio is 1.91:1, or a max. of 1080×566 pixels, which is of course nice, but kind of lame for a panorama image. Because yes, “proper panorama” (for me at least) starts at around 2:1, but it really makes sense from 3:1 or 4:1… Wouldn’t you agree?

So let’s say I want to start from something like this:

(Yes, this is the header image of the post too, and yes, default WordPress sucks too when it comes to panorama header images.)

This is a more or less 4:1 image, so a very good candidate for an Instagram panorama.

Very briefly, here’s what you would have to do to get an Insta panorama:

  1. Crop the image for exact [integer]:1 proportions (like 3:1 or 4:1; because you want to upload square slices to Instagram)
  2. Slice the image into square chunks
  3. Upload the pieces to Instagram as a multi image post

(Or you just upload them to a proper blog… But for the sake of the argument let’s assume you also want to upload to Instagram.)

The tricky bit is the slicing. Until very recently I sliced these images like a savage — basically the same way Neanderthals sliced their JPEGs in those caves in Spain: going into GIMP, manually cropping the image to square parts, exporting, then undoing, then doing the same thing again with an offset, and so on. This, of course, is ridiculous, and exposes me to being tracked down by Lame Police.

The simple and elegant way, as documented in this StackExchange post, is to use a little tool called Guillotine — 9 out of 10 Citizen Robespierres approve! So you basically simply

  1. still crop the image to [integer]:1 proportions to end up with square results;
  2. set Guides in the image as per the GIMP Guide Guide (yes, what I’m doing now is guiding you to the Guide Guide);
  3. and invite Madame Guillotine to help.

As a result you’ll end up with multiple square images that you can save and post to Instagram.

Easy and elegant, right?

Of course you can go absolutely full supermega elegant, and under Linux (GNU/Linux, rms would argue…), or MacOS for that matter, you can use a combination of the exif command and ImageMagick and create an Instagram-ready panorama slice set without setting eyes on your original image once. I’m not going to write this script now because it’s late and I’m lazy tired lazy, but would probably do something along these lines:

  1. Using exif you find out the proportions of your image, and round it down;
  2. Use ImageMagick’s convert command to crop the image to the oh-so-important [integer]:1 proportion;
  3. Then use ImageMagick’s convert command to crop the original image as many times as you need, always increasing the offset so your cropped image ultimately give you the full panorama.


I love Linux. (GNU/Linux, rms would argue…)

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