2015 CHALLENGE, WEEK 23 OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY – PhotoSpheres & 360 Degree Panoramas

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Here’s what we call a photosphere. Although more popular with Android Phone users, I believe the concept was initially pushed forward by real-estate photographers who captured a scene with 4 images from an 8mm lens mounted to a full frame DSLR. Some pros even use computer controlled motorized panoramic heads. It would all be stitched in a professional software solution like KOLOR. The ability to create photospheres is now hitting mainstream thanks to Google. It has also expanded to IOS devices (IOS APP) and a variety of other devices. Small cameras like the Ricoh Theta are specifically designed to capture full spherical images.


The images in their rectangular form are called equirectangular images. To be viewed in their spherical form most photographers upload them to Google +, Google Views and/or share them on the Theta360 web site using the Ricoh application. If your equirectangular image was created with a DSLR instead of an Android phone, iPhone or an other compatible device, you will need to add XMP metadata information to your image before it can correctly be interpreted by Google Maps or the Ricoh Theta application. To do so google provides you with the tools on this web site : https://photo-sphere.appspot.com/

Once the correct information is entered and the XMP metadate updated, you can upload your equirectangular images to google maps and it will display as a photosphere with location information. You can also upload your images to Google+ and the Google+ API will take care of displaying your photosphere correctly.

There’s also your 360 degree panoramic images. They’re at times called a Cylindrical Panorama. Basically it’s a 360 degree view around you without the view of what is above you or below you. These are easier to create with a DSLR or any other camera. They can be merged and processed easily in Photoshop or with an application similar to Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor (ICE). Again the easiest way is to use a mobile phone. The android camera app has it built-in. I created the above 360 panorama with my Google Nexus 4. When I create them with my DSLR I like using a 50mm lens.

Here are a few resources for you:

  1. Al Tompkins has an article on PhotoSpheres : https://www.poynter.org/how-tos/visuals/280433/photo-sphere-a-free-and-simple-tool-gives-interactivity-and-depth-to-stories/
  2. Google has a reference page for creating PhotoSpheres and 360 Panoramic images on Google Views : https://support.google.com/maps/answer/3203091?hl=en
  3. KOLOR has some tutorials for shooting handheld and with mechanical assistance : https://www.kolor.com/panoramas/#start



Since this is Outdoor Photography, we’re looking for this week’s challenge to be completed in an outdoor location. Due to the complexity this challenge may present you are free to choose an urban or natural setting.

Do some research, plan and choose your objective. Will you be creating a Photosphere or 360 degree panorama? A few searches on the internet like “photosphere with camera ***” and “how to create a photosphere with camera ***” should lead you in the right direction.

If you find technical resources that you wish to share that can help your fellow PhotoChallenge members, please feel free to share those links on the PhotoChallenge page @ https://www.facebook.com/photochallenge.org

Since Facebook and Flickr do not support spherical images, you only need to post the flat image of your 360 panorama or the equirectangular image. If you have a link to the animated spherical or cylindrical view on Google, Ricoh Theta 360 or other supported site, please include the link for all to enjoy.

I hope you’re all up to this Challenge. Don’t get discouraged. My first ever 360 panorama was not a great success, but I still like it.

I like to create and use Photospheres for my blog. I find it to be a rich multimedia tool that helps immerse my audience in ways that you just can’t accomplish with video and still images. I hope you enjoy the experience of creating Photospheres and 360 Degree Panoramas as much as I do.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.

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