Photograph 360 Degree Around With A Regular Camera
The Basics : My First Panorama
The simple way to photograph a 360 degree panorama with a common camera involves taking a sequence of overlapping photos, turning the camera on a fixed position, and photographing at regular intervals until you have taken all the horizon.
Subsequent editing work will consist in aligning the images, overlaying the overlapping areas, so that the set of pictures covers the whole horizon overlaying the last picture to the first, thereby completing the panorama.
Conveniently edited the above sequence gives a panoramic photograph that covers 360 degree horizontally by nearly 30 degree vertically.
Using the right software the same image can be navigated interactively giving the perception of a rotation around a point which floats in space, making it possible to rotate endlessly around this point, while the fact that the vertical angle covered is short also limits the ability to view up or down.
In this simple way, you can shoot, edit and publish a 360 degree panorama with only the help of a regular camera and a computer and get excellent results. If you consider some tips, your results will be even better.
Try to have light evenly distributed
Ideally each picture should have light and each sector should have neither more nor less light than the others. If this is not possible, try to keep the light variations kept to the unavoidable minimum.
To this end, when it's about indoor panoramas, all the room's lights should be turned on, including nightstands, lamps and all kind of lights including electronic devices, computer or television screens, as all lights add to the final image. You should also turn on the lamps of the neighboring rooms and leave the doors open, so that the lights will highlight their silhouettes.
Whenever possible, we should strengthen the lighting of darker areas by approaching light sources to them or pointing these in such directions. Likewise, areas of greater brightness, such as windows open to the light of day, should be obscured by closing shutters, pulling blinds down and/or curtains in front of them.
Position the camera in a shadowed spot or where two light beams cross
By placing the camera in a sector in shade, you will avoid annoying reflections from light sources aimed directly at the camera.
At the same time, this will prevent the camera and its accessories from casting shadows on the panorama, demanding more edition work to remove them.
If you can not locate the equipment in an area of shades, then try to place it in a spot where two of the most intense light beams cross, so that one beam of light cancels the shadow of the other. Placing your camera in this strategic location, it will cast no shadows but will still be exposed to the reflections of the light beams on the lens.
Keep in mind that the concealment of one's shadow is a very important part of the 360 degree photography.
Do not rotate with the camera, turn around it instead
This way the camera will only perform a rotation without shifting. For all the photos belonging to a sequence aimed at the making of a single panorama be able to merge without stitching defects, they should all ideally be taken while keeping the nodal point of the lens at a fixed position.
This is the precise point where all the light rays cross after having traversed the lens. To shoot panoramas with objects very close to the camera, it is necessary for the precision with which this condition is fulfilled to be millimetric. In broad terms, the nodal point is located within the lens tube, aligned to its center and in a position more or less close to the surface.
If it is not possible to accurately rotate the camera around the nodal point, then we should try to reduce the displacements as much as possible and try to position the equipment away from neighboring objects. Always turn to the same side.
Make sure the camera keeps level
It is important to keep the camera as level as possible while shooting the entire sequence. The photos taken with the camera tilted to a side will be harder to stitch at editing time and will make the whole picture lose some vertical viewing angle.
Use a tripod
The best way to keep the camera level is with a swivel-head tripod. It is also a good idea to have hardware level at hand to verify its position.
You can also use a common tripod without rotating head, using the camera thread as spin axis. Consider that when you turn the camera a whole spin around, the bolt tension becomes looser and the camera tends to tilt to a side. Try to always keep the camera level.
Should you not have a tripod, you can improve the quality of your picture using a virtual tripod. This consists of a strand hanging from the camera with a counterweight at the other end and a reference in the ground.
Whenever possible, this strand should be tied to the lens ring unless this seems to be fragile. Otherwise, tie it where it is possible. Ideally the strand should hang from a point close to the lens, because it is there where the nodal point is located. The strand should hang vertically pulled by the counterweight and aligned with the reference in the ground. Then all you have to do is walk around the camera taking pictures while trying for the counterwight and the ground reference to keep aligned.
Make sure the camera doesn't shake
Of course it is very important that the camera moves as little as possible when the photos are taken so the image will be clear and sharp. Once again, the ideal way is to use a tripod. They come in all types and prices and even a pocket tripod which can be bought for a few bucks is usefull to keep a camera steady in position.
If you don't have a tripod at all, then the pictures will need to be taken freehand. Hold the camera always with both hands and, whenever possible lean this and one or both hands over a stable object. If your camera allows you to take multiple shots by setting the shutter mode to repeat, it is convenient to do so to have several almost identical shots to choose from to keep the best one and discard the rest. You will notice that the first shot is almost never the best one so it's always a good idea to get multiple shots taken.
Move the zoom to its maximum wide angle
Taking the zoom of your camera to its maximum wide angle, this is, bringing the zoom to a minimum, you'll win three things at once. On one hand, the vertical angle spanned by your pictures will be larger, which will result in an increased immersive sensation when navigating the final interactive panorama.
Also, being greater the vertical viewing angle so will the horizontal one be. This way, the number of necessary shots to cover the entire horizon will be reduced, reducing simultaneously the time needed for capturing and editing work.
Furthermore, since less pictures will be used to create a panorama, the performance of your system will be grater and the working time and the chance of errors will be less.
Take all the pictures in a sequence without changing the camera settings
While some editing programs are prepared to make panoramas automatically compensating for differences between differently exposed source pictures, maintaining stable the exposure and other settings of the camera will help you capture more visible details in the final picture. Most digital cameras have a function key to lock the settings.
Measure the light in an area with average luminosity
Many current digital cameras incorporate a sequential panorama function. To corectly use it, the panorama should be evaluated on the spot, placing the camera in position and choosing for the light measure an area where the amount of light is approximately the average of the whole picture.
The white balance, aperture and shutter speed should all be set pointing at this sector and once these parameters are established, they must be keept stable throughout the sequence until all source images to a single panorama have been taken.
In case the light sources are of different colors use automatic white balance
Resist the temptation to calibrate the white balance in the sector of the panorama you want to emphasize.
When navigating the panorama interactively, there will be many times when only one light is visible. In most of these cases, the camera's automatic white balance will be a more appropriate value for the whole panorama than the intentioned measurements that focus on one sector.
Beware of shadows and reflections
It is important, to provide the 360 degree panorama of a certain kind of magic, that the visitor cannot or finds it hard to realize how the panorama was photographed. With this aim it is of importance that the picture never shows the shadows of the camera, tripod and/or other accessories used by the photographer. The appearence of shadows in the panorama of objects which are not visible in them will result in an obvious visual contradiction, which diverts the attention from the main subject.
For the same reason, you should also avoid pointing at surfaces where the camera, the photographer or the equipment can be imaged, such as mirrors, windows, glass, polished surfaces, etc.
Avoid moving objects
Always choose quiet moments to photograph panoramas. Moving objects, if they are slow, they may end up appearing multiple times in the same scene, tarnishing the final result.
If there is no way to avoid a moving object in your scene, try to get it photographed entirely in one shot, and if possible, to be located in the precise center of the picture, so when time comes to stitch this picture with others, the overlapping areas will have no objects appearing in one shot and missing in the other.
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With any camera
360 Degree Interactive Panoramas
In Three Easy Steps
After reading this tutorial you'll be able to create your first 360 degree interactive photography with the camera you already have :
1 - Photograph
Take one or more pictures of the place you want to show.
2 - Edit
Convert your pictures into 360 degree panoramas.
3 - Publish
Make your panoramas interactive and available to the world on the internet.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a 360 degree interactive panorama is worth a thousand pictures...
Online Virtual Tour Creator
Using the online virtual tour creator you can :
Convert your 360 degree pictures to virtual tours with a single click.
Insert your virtual tours into web sites, emails, blogs or wherever you like by just copying and pasting a text.
Know in a practical way all kinds of 360 degree pictures.
Discover that you can create hundreds of interactive virtual tours just as easily as you take pictures with your camera.
Check that with just one click from your camera and another click from your mouse it is possible to create a 360 degree interactive virtual tour out of nothing. And completely free of charge!!!
You can get started right now, even if you don't have a camera
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