Category Archives: photography

360′ virtual tours

How do real-estate websites show 360' virtual tours of their spaces? I spent part of the afternoon looking at software for possible business use. Here's how they do it, I think.

*Take photos.* First take super-wide-angle shots, rotating your camera around a fixed point. A number of stores sell fisheye lenses and camera mounts for this purpose. The mount for spherical pictures (all directions, including up and down) is more complicated than the mount for a 360' panoramic shot. If you don't mind distortion, then you can use a regular camera and just take pictures facing different directions, relying on stitching software to compensate a bit for the distortion.

*Stitch the pictures.* Camera designed specifically for 360' or spherical shots may be able to capture the entire scene in one image. However, if you're using a rotating mount or you're taking pictures in different directions, then you'll need to combine the images into a seamless panorama by using stitching software.

*Produce the brochure.* 360' viewers range from simple ones that smoothly scroll a panoramic picture, to more interactive viewers that include floor plans and clickable hotspots in the image. Choose the software that fits your intended purpose and budget.

Some companies that sell 360' software:

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A mannequin would be useful

When I have more space, I think a mannequin and some white cloth for a backdrop would make these totally small-time clothing shoots a lot more manageable. Shooting myself with a point-and-shoot's self-timer is way more work than it should be.

Maybe I should take all of my malongs home this Christmas, borrow a mannequin from somewhere, and borrow the studio cyclorama so that I'd have a seamless floor. Would be totally excellent for learning how to shoot. <laugh> Who knows—I might even get into lights!

I foresee constantly tweaking clothes, and it would be nice to be able to document that. Totally small-budget. No models, no model releases, etc. ;) It's not going to be high fashion or anything like that, but it will be fun!

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Learning how to shoot

Yesterday, my dad took me along on his Manila skyline shoot. He talked the condominium administrator to let him take pictures from the helipad on the 42nd floor; him, and the ten other photographers he invited! I tagged along to bond with my dad and to carry equipment. It was fun.

That was the *best* view I'd ever seen. It was a clear day and we really could see forever, from the mountains and hills near Antipolo to the oceans beyond the bay. Because we were on a helipad, there was that feeling of nothing being between you and the rest of the world. Wow!

I shot people more than I shot landscapes, though. It's easier to tell stories with people. For example, I got a few good pictures of my dad telling people stories over halo-halo. What a place to eat halo-halo! With an unobstructed 360' view of the Manila skyline and everything...

So yesterday, I learned how to shoot with an SLR. I discovered the thrill of seeing a picture in your mind's eye and figuring out how to make it real. Today, my dad got me a point-and-shoot camera that's so much better than my current camera. I've been trying it out by taking pictures of my patient and long-suffering cat. I'm looking forward to using it for portraits...

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Food photography attempt

That's what we had for Thanksgiving dinner. I borrowed W-'s camera to take the shot, as his was already all set up. This picture used the room light and an external flash unit placed diagonally in front of the pan. I like how the background is nice and soft, the roast is detailed, and the mashed potatoes are cheery but not overwhelming.

If I could shoot this picture again, I'd add another flash behind the roast in order to add more definition. I'd also find a way to minimize the shadow cast by the front edge of the pan, perhaps by raising the front-diagonal flash or increasing the toplight. I'd get rid of that sprig of whatever that is in front of the lamb, too. I'd also increase the depth of field by changing apertures so that more of the roast is in focus.

W- and I enjoy cooking and taking pictures of food. We usually have time to get a few shots in before hunger sets in. <laugh>

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Taking portraits of people

Ian Irving was kind enough to not only introduce me to a wonderful little cafe (Lou's Coffee Bar at Runnymede and Annette) and share his insights on consulting and tech evangelism, but to also sit for a portrait by this amateur.

Good side-lighting. Yay dimples. =) I also like the background - the exchange bookshelf at the cafe. I cropped this one really tight, which improved the composition a bit.

Next time I take a picture, I'll spend a little more time trying to make sure it's in focus.

Not bad for a quick shot, though. =)

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