This peculiar photograph is a flattened version of a 360° Panorama I created today of our studio. 360° Panoramas & Virtual Tours are very big in Europe and America right now and we think that with recent improvements to the UK's Broadband Infrastructure that the time may be right to investigate this branch of photography/video further.

The Panorama itself can be seen by clicking here - dive in and take a look around!

On to the technology:

This was created with:

Canon 5D Mk III
Canon EF 8-15mm L Fisheye Lens
Nodal Ninja Mount
Manfrotto Levelling Base

I took 4 shots at 90° intervals, rotating around the nodal point just behind the glass of the lens.  This is important to get right as it is the one axis of rotation that will not cause parallax errors that make it almost impossible to stitch cleanly. To understand this, hold up one finger and line it up with an object in the distance using one eye only. Now close that eye and open the other one - you'll see that the position off the finger in relation to the object has moved, revealing some of what was previously hidden and hiding some of what was previously visible.

Each shot was bracketed one stop above and one below normal exposure and combined to give a full tonal range. I also used a grey card in a test shot to set the colour balance as the lights create a yellow cast. The three shots for each position were merged using Lightroom's HDR facility and the colour settings taken from the test shot so that they all looked the same.

I created the Panorama in Kolor Software's Autopano Giga and for the embedded version you can see here, used Kolor's Panotour Pro software. This creates an HTML 5 version of the tour and viewer.

Tips to pass on?

  1. Don't stand in the middle of the space Choose your frames with an eye on potential stitching issues - the easier you make it for the software, the better the result and the less time you'll spend editing control points.
  2. Keep the camera level for the same reason.
  3. Meter for the mid point of light in the room - if you take your reading at a dark spot then your lighter frames will be badly overexposed. This is all about consistency across the range of images that make up the panorama.
  4. Do use a decent camera. There are low-fi devices that can do a half decent job of taking a 360° Panorama in one shot - they don't scale well and the temptation is to take snapshots.
  5. Take more than one set of images. This stuff is trickier than it looks and there is nothing worse than a set of images that won't stitch together.

If you have a space that you think could be interesting in a 360° panorama give us a call on 01743 231 416 - we'd be delighted to help.