An Inverted Planet photo from my Instagram.
I’m a big fan of 360 cameras, and the cool Tiny Planet and photosphere images and videos they can create. It’s a bit of a challenge to get the best results, however. More than just standard photographer “best practices,” there are some additional aspects necessary to get 360 images that really pop.
I’ve focused, pun intended, on the following three tips, based on what I’ve learned over the last few years, plus what some of the top 360 photographers have to say on the same subject. And don’t worry, if you want to learn from them directly, I’ve linked to several excellent related videos below.
1) Buy a selfie stick
I resisted buying a selfie stick for years. I have, as one friend lovingly put it, freakishly long arms. She’s hobbit sized, so personally I think they just seem that way to her. When it comes to traditional camera selfies, my arms are plenty long to get whatever shot I want.
360 images are completely different, and no matter how long your arms are, it’s not enough. The issue is the nature of 360 photos and videos themselves: everything is visible. When a significant portion of the image is your arm and hand, that detracts from the overall effect.
The best 360 cameras will either remove a selfie stick entirely, or greatly reduce its visibility at worst. Now instead of you clearly holding something that’s taking an image, it looks like you’re being followed by a drone. I’d been posting 360 photos on my social media for years, and once I started posting photos taken with the camera on a selfie stick, I got far more people asking me how I’d gotten the shot and how cool it looked.
A Tiny Planet photo, from my Instagram. This is one of the last ones I took before I bought a selfie… [+]
If your camera has a selfie stick available as an accessory, that’s probably the one to get. It’s possible the company has designed it in such a way so their camera knows to make it disappear. If you’re getting a 3rd party stick, make sure it has a tripod mount at the end (either built in or as an attachment). Ideally the head is as small as possible to help it disappear.
It will be harder to find, but I recommend searching for one that has a female tripod mount on the bottom. This gives you the option, if so desired, to mount the stick to a small portable tripod or other traditional camera mount. This opens up even more creative possibilities.
Petite France, Strasbourg. From my Instagram. Post-selfie stick purchase. Much better, right?
2) Learn how to “Photoshop”
You don’t need to buy Photoshop or Lightroom, though both are good to know. What I mean by this is to learn how to adjust your photos after you’ve taken them. You should be able to read terms like contrast, brightness, color, and color temperature and have a general idea what they’ll do to your photo. That way you’ll have an idea how to fix a photo that’s perhaps not exactly perfect.
Yes, to some extent you can just “slap a filter” on the image and call it a day. But I’m guessing if you’re reading this article you’re interested in more than that, or at the very least, why filters look the way they do.
There are a variety of free photo editors on the market. Snapseed, by Google, has pretty much every adjustment you could possibly think of, and about a dozen more. It’s a good place to start. You might find it has everything you need, or you might find that you want more and one of Adobe’s apps can bring you to the next level.
The same is true with video editing, though it’s going to be harder to find a free video editor that lets you adjust the image. Most camera’s apps will let you trim the footage, which you should definitely do. The video below is about the Insta360 One X, but the overall tips cover any camera.
3) Positioning and Symmetry
I’ve written before about the importance of positioning with 360 photos and videos, but it’s worth repeating. Unlike traditional photos/videos where you can frame just what you want, 360s show everything. As such, there’s no framing, only placement.
Positioning becomes much easier with a selfie stick, letting you get the camera out away from you to show more of your surroundings, or perhaps out over the edge of something, in a way that creates a much more compelling photo.
To be honest, if you’re getting into 360 photography, positioning is going to be something you’ll figure out. You’ll see what works and what doesn’t. The more photos you take, the more you’ll understand how to get the image you want.
So I want to talk about symmetry. With traditional photography there are all sorts of ways to create a compelling image. Rule of Thirds is a common one, or the Golden Ratio. These are less suitable for most 360 images. What’s regularly compelling, and some would say the most compelling, is symmetry. This is where different sides of the image match or mirror each other.
This isn’t to say that the content of your photo needs to somehow duplicate on either side of your Tiny Planet, but positioning the camera so that whatever’s in your image is even, that’s huge. Again, that isn’t to say that every photo needs to do this, but if you’re just starting out, this is a good thing to keep in mind. It’s like learning the basic rules so you know how to break them.
With 360s things like making sure you’re standing in the middle of a path and making sure the camera is exactly between things will be huge. Depending on the camera, making sure its level is vital as well.
There are a of things you can fix in Photoshop, but bad placement, even just-very-slight-off placement, isn’t one of them.
Lastly, it’s worth considering when not to use a 360 photo/video. Specifically, when to use the footage you get from a 360 camera for one of its many other uses, like Tiny Planet, Inverted Planet, or as Mic talks about here, Overcapture videos:
3 Tips For Better 360 Photos And Videos – Forbes
22/06/2022 360 Photography