360° panoramic photography

Did you ever try it ?

I did. Just for the fun. You can see some of those pictures in my gallery.

Even if I'm not a specialist, I will here just explain how I did that.

First, you need to take several pictures. Best is if you don't move from the place you have chosen for taking all the pictures (a tripod can be useful), you select the shorter focal length, and you take the pictures one after the other - be careful to over-cross at least 50% of a picture with another. With a normal 18 mm (APS-C) / 24 mm (full frame), this means that you take at least 12 to 15 pictures for a complete 360° circle (full rotation). The more you take, the best it is. If you want your panoramic photography not to be too "flat", you can make a second rotation a little over the first and even a third a bit under.

At this stage, you now need to join your multiple photographs taken with slightly overlapping fields of view to create a panoramic "stitched" flat image. And for this, you need a special software, called a stitcher. You can find very good stitchers, some of them are freewares, most of them not. But if you need a good and simple one, Microsoft offers its own free ! Called Image Composite Editor, you can download and install it here. Then, launch the software, drag and drop all your pictures on the main window, let the software combine the original images and choose the "camera motion", and you can then crop automatically and export your photography as JPEG image (I recommend a 100% quality) on your disk.

At least, but not at last, you need now something to view your panoramic photography. Of course, you can use a "normal" pictures viewer like for instance IrfanView, but all you will see then is a "flat" image. I recommend to use a dedicated tool. Here again, you can find various tools and even I use some of them, all freeware, like FSPViewer or WPanorama - the the one I would recommend here would be DevalVR player, that you can find here. No installation is required (portable mode), so you will even be able to take with you both this soft and your (new) panoramic photographies. You will see that such players allow you to "interact" with and within your 360° image. So, have fun !

And if you just want to test what you can do with a 360° player, you can find flat 360° pictures over internet, even under GNU Free Documentation License, like on commons.wikimedia.org, for instance Hellbrunn banqueting hall, Piazza Navona and Helvellyn.There are also some wonderful websites where you can find a lot of things like http://www.360cities.net/, http://www.panoramicearth.com/, http://viewat.org/, http://www.panoye.com/ or my preferred today, http://www.arounder.com/.