360º Stereographic Photography

Having visited 360º stereographic photography in the past during my studies at university, I was keen to revisit this genre. Previously my work with 360º photography involved me taking numerous amounts of images, stitching them together and editing in them in the relevant software. All of this could be time consuming and in certain situations it would be difficult to set up my tripod without attracting unwanted attention.

If only there was a way that I could quickly and discreetly take images that would allow me to photograph a 360º landscape…and there I saw it advertised…the Nikon 360 Keymission. This was the answer that I had been looking for. I added it to my Amazon wish list and waited…and waited…and waited…and waited further more, but the release date kept being pushed back and there was no way that I was going to get this in time for Christmas. I even contemplated buying one from the U.S, even though it would cost considerably more. I then done some research on the internet to see why it hadn’t yet been released in the U.K and it seemed that there were some issues surrounding the software and the reviews that I had read were not great. This lead me to look at alternatives and I found the Ricoh Theta S. Initially I had concerns, as it was cheaper than the Nikon Keymission and I thought that this would compromise the resolution.

At Christmas I received the Ricoh Theta S and couldn’t wait to start shooting. After adjusting the settings and getting them to my liking, I am finding that it is a great camera to have and serves as a great alternative to the traditional photograph, capturing the whole scene as opposed to a fraction of it. It is a lightweight, fun camera to have and is a great addition to my camera kit. I will point out that the resolution is not the best I have ever seen but for the price you pay and for the convenience of not having to stitch the photographs together, I can overlook this.

A great camera for the novelty value and the software is easy to use and allows for some interesting and creative edits. I have not used the video function much but if you are looking for a 360º camera with a high resolution, then is would possibly not be your best bet and I would suggest looking for a product with higher videoing capabilities. This is a good gateway product into the world of 360º photography.

Here are a few examples of the images that I captured on one of my days out:

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Castle Acre, Norfolk

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Castle Acre, Norfolk

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Castle Acre, Norfolk

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Wrest Park

It has been a few months now since I left university and I have missed creating panoramas and stereographic images. So whilst out on a weekend stroll around Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, UK, I decided that I would create some new images.

The shots have been taken “hand held” as I still haven’t had the opportunity to purchase a panoramic head for my tripod. The images I can achieve from “hand held” are of acceptable standard but I know that having a panoramic head will make the stitching process far easier during post production.

Here are the images that I obtained:

Wrest Park © Richard Brochu-Williams

Wrest Park
© Richard Brochu-Williams

Wrest Park © Richard Brochu-Williams

Wrest Park
© Richard Brochu-Williams

References

English-heritage.org.uk, (2015). Wrest Park | English Heritage. [online] Available at: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/wrest-park/ [Accessed 12 Jan. 2015].

Kirby Muxloe

I have been taking advantage of the good weather that we have been having and I travelled to Leicestershire to practice some more panoramic shots. This shoot was not the urban landscape that I have been photographing of late but it was a good opportunity for me to practice my technique and to keep myself familiar with the software that I am using. I find that if I do not do this on a regular basis, when I come back to use the software, it takes me twice as long to achieve my desired results because I have forgotten how to do certain things. By regularly practising, I become accustomed to what I am doing and I find that I work more efficiently.

Kirby Muxloe has a wonderful castle and this was the setting for this shoot. I really enjoy visiting castles and I am enticed by the architecture. The sense of history and what has gone on inside these magnificent constructions really draws me in.

The well known British proverb “An Englishman’s home is his castle” meaning: An English person’s home is a place where they may do as they please and from which they may exclude anyone they choose, strikes a chord with me and I think that my castle images work well with the stereographic format, as this provides an environment of it’s own for the castle, suggesting further that not only is the castle a place of privacy but it can be encapsulated in it’s own little world, providing a kind of private retreat.

I am continuing to photograph castles alongside my urban landscapes and I shall be comparing the two, to see which images have produced the best results.

Kirby Muxloe Castle, 360º Equirectangular Panorama

Kirby Muxloe Castle, 360º Equirectangular Panorama, © Richard Brochu-Williams

Kirby Muxloe Castle, Stereographic Projection

Kirby Muxloe Castle, Stereographic Projection © Richard Brochu-Williams

I was pleased with the results that I achieved during the weekend at both Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire & Rickney’s Quarry, Hertfordshire. It was certainly a productive weekend.

References

Oxforddictionaries.com, (2014). an Englishman’s home is his castle: definition of an Englishman’s home is his castle in Oxford dictionary (British & World English). [online] Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/an-englishman’s-home-is-his-castle [Accessed 22 Jul. 2014].

Framlingham Castle

On my way to visit Sizewell, I took a detour and visited Framlingham Castle in Suffolk. It is a lovely place to visit and whilst taking a well deserved break I took the opportunity in taking some images to produce a stereographic image of the castle and it’s surroundings.

 

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Framlingham Castle, Suffolk © Richard Brochu-Williams. All rights reserved.

 

The above image was made by stitching 15 different photographs together to make an equirectangular image and was then edited using the Hugin software.

Test Shoot 3

I decided that I wanted to do another test shoot so that I could become more confident at stitching my images together and using the software efficiently. I drove out to a nature reserve near to my home and decided to shoot there.

These are the 16 images that I obtained:

The following pictures show some of the editing processes that I went through to obtain one final image.

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As you can see in the above image, the stitching had not worked as well as I had hoped. Therefore I decided to tidy up the image in Photoshop.

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  • I selected the part of the pavement that had not lined up correctly by using the pen tool.

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  • I then copied (via layer) and placed the new layer where the missing path was.

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  • I then used the transform tool to make the new layer blend in

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  • Finally the clone tool is used to remove the part of the path that is no longer needed

A similar process was used in another part of the image. This can be observed in the 3 images below:

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  • Selection made using pen tool and new layer created via copy

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  • Warp tool used to move pavement

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  • Old part of pavement has been removed using the clone tool

Final Equirectangular Image

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Photoshop Process

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After image has been transformed into a stereographic projection, there is a noticeable hole in the centre of the image. This will need to be fixed. This is done by selecting an area of existing road from the image and copying it into a new layer, which is then placed over the hole and blended in for a seamless look.

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  • Layer placed over hole

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  • Final screen shot after blending

Final Image

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Reflection

Looking at the final image after it had been completed I could see that it was not as perfectly spherical as I would have liked. I went back to see if I could make improvements on my stitching but I was not having much luck and I even tried different software. The person that was with at the time of taking the photograph had stated that the area was a little hilly and there was an area that would have been better suited for me to take my pictures from. This was the “viewpoint area” and there was a signpost for it, which I had missed. In the future, I will have to take any hills / slopes into consideration and maybe adjusting my horizon line may have worked in this instance. I’m glad that I have found this out now rather than later into the project, as this is something that I can possibly rectify whilst on the shoot. This shoot definitely turned out to be a learning curve.

References

Morris, S. (2014). How To Stitch Together a Panorama in Photoshop Manually. [image] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN6jQn2F5nk [Accessed 23 Jun. 2014].

A Walk Around Cornwall

I have had a lovely Bank Holiday Monday, walking the coastal paths and taking a visit to Land’s End. I managed to take some landscape pictures but as of yet have not had the time to edit them. I hope to have some ready for tomorrow but I did manage to do some more 360º panoramic shots, even though I forgot to bring my tripod with me, therefore I have had to make do with hand held.

 

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360º Panoramic, St Just, Cornwall © Richard Brochu-Williams

 

The above panoramic was made from around 12 hand held shots and I couldn’t resist making another “Small Planet” image – entitled “A Walk Around Cornwall”.

 

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“A Walk Around Cornwall” © Richard Brochu-Williams

 

Whilst making the above image I encountered a new problem with the Hugin Software (my fault, not the software’s). The problem was that my files would not save big enough and became increasingly pixelated, no matter what size image I started off with and even trying to save them in TIFF format and uncompressed….I was still coming across the same problem. After 2 hours of perseverance, I discovered that the canvas size was set incorrectly…something I will keep an eye on in future!

360º Virtual Tours

Whilst looking into 360º panoramic landscapes, I came across some virtual tours and this was something that interested me and I thought that this could be a new way for me to capture and explore the landscapes that surround me. I am looking into downloading and experimenting with new software. I have chosen to trial some software:

  • Panoweaver 8
  • Tourweaver 7
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Panoweaver 8

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Tourweaver 7

I have managed to create one but I am having trouble putting it onto this blog! Watch this space, I shall figure it out. Some nice examples of virtual tours can be found at 360 Cities.

References

360 Cities. 2014. World Panoramic Photography – 360Cities. [online] Available at: http://www.360cities.net [Accessed: 8 Apr 2014].

Easypano. 2014. Virtual Tour Software. [online] Available at: http://www.easypano.com/virtual-tour-software.html [Accessed: 8 Apr 2014].

Easypano. 2014. Panorama Software. [online] Available at: http://www.easypano.com/panorama-software.html [Accessed: 8 Apr 2014].

Pan 3Sixty. 2012. 360 University Virtual Tours | 360 Campus Virtual Tours. [online] Available at: http://www.pan3sixty.co.uk/business-sectors/university-virtual-tours/ [Accessed: 8 Apr 2014].

Experimenting with 360º Panoramas

Today I have been trying to experiment with 360º panoramic landscapes. There are a few problems that I have come across. The first being that I do not have a fish eye lens but I do have a wide angle lens (12mm) and I do not have a panoramic head but it is still possible to achieve some good results…I just haven’t got them yet.

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Nodal Ninja 4, Panoramic Head for tripod

I have been trying out new software (Hugin) but after trying to get to grips with it, watching tutorials and reading online, I have discovered that it is not too user friendly, or I am just simply daft! BUT I will persevere because I am stubborn but will give it a rest for today.

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Despite having done stereographic images in the past, I have not done 360º panoramic or equirectangular images, and these are the images that should be used when making stereographic images. I have just used landscape images and photoshopped them, but I would really like to try and do it the correct way and this will also be a new way of photographing for me, so this is a challenge that I am going to set myself.

However, I did manage a 360º panorama, not a very good one, but at least I achieved SOMETHING today. I have stitched the image together but I have not bothered to edit the image as it was just for experimentation.

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360º Panoramic Image © Richard Brochu-Williams

Below is an example of how Alexandre Duret-Lutz uses 360º equirectangular panoramic images to create his stereographic (Wee Planet) images.

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Stereographic | Equirectangular © Alexandre Duret-Lutz

References

Duret-Lutz, A. 2014. gadl. [online] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gadl/ [Accessed: 4 Apr 2014].

Hugin. 2013. Hugin – Panorama photo stitcher. [online] Available at: http://hugin.sourceforge.net [Accessed: 4 Apr 2014].

Nodal Ninja. 2014. Panoramic Heads, VR Photography, Rotators, Levelers, Aerial Poles. [online] Available at: http://www.nodalninja.com [Accessed: 4 Apr 2014].

Panoguide. 2014. panoguide: the guide to panoramas and panoramic photography. [online] Available at: http://www.panoguide.com [Accessed: 4 Apr 2014].

Panohelp. 2014. Pano Help — Tips, techniques, and articles to help you create incredibly detailed panoramas. [online] Available at: http://www.panohelp.com [Accessed: 4 Apr 2014].