Milos, Greece as seen in the raw 360 image that comes out of the Theta camera.
Taking cool photos is hard. Taking cool 360-photos is even harder. It’s quite literally a new dimension of imagery.
Anyone can take a 360 photo. You can use one of the various apps and painstakingly stich together a photosphere. Or the far better option: buy a 360 camera. I prefer the latter, having bought a Ricoh Theta S a few months ago.
But while anyone can take a 360 photo (or video) not everyone can take a good 360 photo/video. It’s the same as the reason why buying an expensive camera won’t make you a great photographer. It’s all about knowing how to use it.
So here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up using a 360 camera in a dozen countries over the last 6 months (and being a bit of a photographer myself).
ricoh-theta-spherical-image »>Stari Most bridge in Mostar, Bosnia – A Spherical Image on a Ricoh Theta CLICK HERE TO SEE IN 360
1) Placement is KEY
There is no bigger concern with 360 photos and videos than placement. There’s minimal framing possible (just where the initial view is pointed), there’s no focusing to draw attention to certain parts of the image either. Really, all you can do is make sure you have the best placement possible.
Looks weird, right? 360-photos still don’t render correctly on all sites. Click the image to go to Flickr where you can see it correctly.
This is, as you can imagine, quite a challenge. It’s not enough that you see a perfect scenic vista. You have to find a spot where there’s a scenic vista… AND something interesting on the sides and behind you.
The best 360 photos are the ones with a lot going on. One of my favorites, and one that a lot of my friends liked, is the one you see above. A cool location, sure, but also something everywhere you look. Cool old buildings on either side, my smiling mug below, a bit of a ruckus on the lower right, and more.
This isn’t always possible, of course. One spot I really liked was the amphitheater in Taormina, Italy. The only placement with a good view was against the wall in the back. Small rocks appeared like boulders. Not a bad photo, of course, but less than ideal.
2) Where’s Waldo
When I first started posting 360-photos on my
So now I play with it, popping up around edges, corners, and overall just having fun with it. I’m sure your friends and family will do the same. This is a whole new way to take photos, so the landscape/portrait/selfie trifecta of normal photos is rather obsolete. Have fun with it!
3) Standard photo advice still applies
Check out my article on Travel Photo Tips . The short version: the lighting is way better around sunrise and sunset and your photos will look a lot better (if you’ve got that kind of flexibility). Shooting at noon can be problematic as the sun can wash out the image and crush details in any shadows.
4) Get a small tripod
There are two reasons to get a small tripod. The first is obvious: get the camera off the ground or other surface a bit (or get it to sit on a non-flat surface). Each camera is different, but the
The other reason is to give you something to hold if you want to just hoist the camera in the air to take a picture. I’ve experimented with a mix of these two uses (as I mentioned earlier). Remember, tip #1 is paramount. Sometimes there just isn’t a convenient place to put the camera, so it’s 360-degree selfie time. Not only will the tripod give you a little extra height (almost always a good thing), it also moves the camera’s “dead zone” farther from your fingers. Which is to say, all 360 cameras have an area that isn’t in the picture, usually a full sphere around the camera itself. The Theta, for example, removes itself completely from the image. If you’re holding the camera, it can warp and distort your fingers rather strangely. Not a huge deal, but with a tripod everything looks a lot less alien.
I like the Gorilla Pod. It’s bendy, so it can grip things (like railings). It doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it’s cheap. I’ve mounted my Theta S in a lot of precarious places and it did a great job holding it in place while I made stupid faces at the camera. I had a cheaper knockoff a few years ago and it disintegrated after a few months. So far the Gorilla pod has survived 6 months of hard travel across 11 countries.
5) A little Photoshop goes a long way
Adobe’s Photoshop app crashes constantly and is pretty slow to use, even on top-of-the-line phones. However, it offers a lot of great adjustments to give your photos a bit more “pop.” The Defog tool can work wonders, for example.
There are other photo editing apps of course, but to be honest I haven’t tried them. If you find one you like that isn’t as annoying as Photoshop, please let me know.
The most important thing is that the app doesn’t mess with the photo so much that Facebook can’t recognize it’s a 360-photo. My assumption is this is in the metadata, which shouldn’t be tweaked by most editing apps, but it’s possible.
I haven’t done much video editing, but some initial experiments with this show that you can edit the videos if you want.
6) Where do you Post?
Before you’re able to post videos to YouTube you need to insert 360-video metadata.
The easiest place to upload is to Facebook. Not only is everything automatic, but people viewing the photos on any decent phone can move the phone itself to navigate the 360 environment. It’s fantastic, and has absolutely wowed everyone I’ve shown it too. You can check out a few that I’ve made public on my Facebook page.
Other options are, for various reasons, not as ideal. Flickr requires several clicks to get the 360 to work, and won’t embed 360 (you have to click through to their site, as you’ve seen from the images above).
Ricoh lets you upload to their site, and that lets you embed 360 elsewhere… but that doesn’t always work either (as you saw at the start off this article). It also says “Theta” on it and if they decide to cancel this service… you’re out of luck.
You can upload to Google Photos, and you can share links to them there, but you can’t embed or share them directly from there (i.e. people have to click a link and go to Google Photos).
There are a few other options, but right now YouTube and Facebook are the easiest.
This is all cutting edge photography, one that I think will only get more popular. The cameras will get better, cheaper, and there will be more places to post the images.
But until then, it’s worth getting the fundamentals down. What are the fundamentals of 360 photography? Placement. It’s all about the placement. A challenge, but a fun one.
360-Degree Camera Tips And Tricks: Get The Best Photo and Video Spheres – Forbes
03/06/2022 360 Photography