Archive for July, 2010

I was pointed to this tweet by my twittering colleague today.

As it turns out (as if it would be any surprise), I have been planning also to make a new “world record” image which would surpass the Prague gigapixel I shot last year.

It’s funny, in the very early stages of my addiction to all things panoramic, I remember the fascinating image and story of Max Lyons and his Gigapixel image. Not to belittle the efforts of the people shooting gigapixels these days, but wow, this guy was a real man. He had to actually move the camera by hand, no motorized robotic thing to move the camera with a tolerance of 1/100th of a degree. He had to actually find and record corresponding pixels in each pair of images. No SIFT, no Autopano, or PTGui, none of that. In fact Max started programming himself (creating PTAssembler in the process) only to achieve his goal. Yes, people used to be tougher, as we’ve said over and over, since the times of the ancient Greeks.

Now we have all manner of robotic camera mounts, and we have a great deal of sophisticated and very good panoramic image creation software. It is even possible to create an image ten times larger than Max Lyons’ record breaking gigapixel image with a gigapan unit and a point and shoot camera from your nearest electronics store (Canon G9, say, or equivalent) with no knowledge whatsoever about photography or panoramic image stitching. Whoever says this is a bad thing is an elitist crank. Of course, this is a good thing. Anything that makes previously difficult things easier for people is (with certain exceptions) probably a good thing.

But there are other elements of this “gigapixel race” that are bothering me. Let me get the first one out of the way. How can I say it politely? Some of these huge images are…… DISGUSTING! Or even worse maybe, BORING! Ok, I said it. Maybe I wasn’t polite about it. I’m sorry. But please. Look at the Corcovado 67 Gigapixel image. Does it look nice zoomed out? Not really – it is full of lines because of certain technical reasons (vignetting was not corrected). Now, zoom in. What do you see? Here is a screenshot:

Ok, there is something vaguely recognizable. But let me ask you this – if you bought a digital camera at Best Buy – one of those cameras with a ridiculous megapixel count (more on that later) and you looked at one of your photos at pixel level, and you saw something like this – would you be happy? Probably not. In fact I guess you would immediately return the camera for being defective.

So, how big should the above screenshot be, so that the “pixels” in it are actually “pixels” ?

Well, here is the same screenshot reduced to 1/4 size. I also applied a bit of sharpening, because it was still too soft.

That’s just about right, I guess.Well, it’s better, at least.

So, Luiz Velho, Diego Nehab, Pedro Sander, or Rodolfo Lima – what are you trying to prove? Besides to claim a world record of course! I think what you are proving is not what you intended to prove. You are showing a couple of things.

First, you’ve shown that there is a physical barrier imposed on the resolution of photographs. This resolution is dictated by the earth’s atmosphere. If you look through an 800mm lens as has been done with the above image, you actually won’t see any more detail than if you look through a 400mm lens (unless you’re lucky and you’re shooting on a clear day, minutes after a rain storm has cooled off the surfaces of all distant objects); you will only see how wavy everything looks when you look at such a small detail through so much of the earth’s (definitely non-transparent) air. Even if you had secured your tripod properly, and waited a reasonable length of time for the camera to stop vibrating, and used mirror lockup on your camera (you certainly didn’t do any of these things, because if you did, the image would take a few days to shoot – this appears to have been shot in one day, and the blur on these images suggests the camera was not stabilized so well – yes, time is tricky)

The second thing you’ve shown us is that this “Gigapixel Race” is become silly, the kind of thing that is a domain for hucksters and charlatans – a kind of meaningless benchmark that is impressive only if you don’t know anything about this kind of stuff.

You could think of this gigapixel race as a side-effect of the megapixel race – something that we’ve been benefitting from, certainly, but more often than not, for most humans who buy cameras, is very misleading. The basic idea, if you’re not familiar with it, is that cameras are marketed with ONE specification above all others: the megapixel count of the imaging sensor. People have been led to believe that a 15 megapixel camera makes better photos than a 6 megapixel camera (the truth is in fact usually the opposite). So, while we have been lucky enough to get cameras such as the Canon 5d mk2 or t2i, 21 and 18 megapixels respectively (and “good pixels” at that) most of the time that you see some camera, and its size is megapixels, you’re getting engineering driving by marketing, driven by the human instinct to quantify everything (and presume quality = bigger numbers).

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I am myself preparing to make another “world record” image. But I don’t want to be too “silly” about it. Maybe I am getting old, and letting honor get in the way of what is otherwise simply a fun and competitive game to be played among photographers of the world.  But still. I would like most parts of my image to be in focus. I would like elements of the image to be mostly without errors (no lines or other seams between images). I don’t want to magnify the world so that you can see nothing but blurry, defracted water vapor in the distance. I’d like the image to look nice when you’re zoomed out, and also when you are zoomed in.

Remember, you can take a 1200mm lens (one that is available today!) put a 2x magifier on it, and shoot a panorama that’s more than 1 THOUSAND gigapixels. But, unless you did lots of tricks (things that would increase the already enormous shooting time by a factor of 10 or 100) the resulting image would not have any more actual resolution than an image less than 1/10 the size. There are limits to everything, even photographs – some of these limits are bound by the Earth’s atmosphere, not just technology. But I guess we haven’t gotten to the limit yet. And there will be a lot of very silly claims at new world records, with most of these images being viral marketing vehicles and not much more.

So please, gigapixel photographers of the world – remember that there is more to a photograph (even a world record photograph) than how many pixels it contains. Remember why you started photography in the first place? It was to take a photo OF SOMETHING, probably. Let’s not forget that in our quest to push the limits of knowledge and technology.

This room reminds me of Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov‘s apartment in Crime and Punishment.


Room Artists in Russia

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by Ivan Roslyakov.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

This is VR spherical panorama exposed during 4000 seconds at night, on the 4000 meters height on a hill of the highest mountain of Europe, mt. Elbrus.Within one hour Earth spin 1/24 of the Star Dome, and fixed camera captures trails of stars and Moon rising above horizon. It was a night after long day of snowboard shooting in snow park. And me with a friend decided to stay that night on a glacier to make a night experimental shooting. While camera was exposing the Star Dome with Moon we had a chance to get a dinner and rest before other night adventures =)The technics of the shot: tripod + 8mm lens, f9, iso 100, one shot to sky shutter speed 3300 sec, 4 shots around with iso400 and shutter speed 60 sec

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by Ivan Roslyakov.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

The most exciting things to do in Dahab to hire a boat for a day trip to any of dive sites or marine reserves, for example Gabr El Bint on the south. Beside jumping from the boat and sun-bathing you may enjoy of snorkeling or freediving and diving ) This is the VR spherical panorama of friend of mine Nastya Vecherko practicing in freediving and reaching 5 meters depth. The panorama was shot from hands in a hard light conditions under water, so the stitching was a challenge for me )

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by Ivan Roslyakov.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

This VR panoramic sequence is the technic which I would like to represent myself as an athlete and photo-artist at once. The sequence was shot with help of my friend Vitaliy Bekker. The simple bs360 trick was done by me with not-simple double tail grab in the spring photo session for WarmupTV.ru (the first russian online video mag about snowboarding) and Red Bull. After a good landing I climbed back to the kicker and asked my friend to make one more shot for the 360×180 panorama, which I stitched later on.

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by Martin Broomfield.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

The bridge over the Orbieu river at the village of Ribaute Southern France. The stone bridge crosses over a gorge, below a fast running waterfall.

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by Vishnu Sreenath.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

This tree is all that is left of a demolished house that used to be here…

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by .
Click the image to open the interactive version.

The Hill of Crosses, Kryzių Kalnas, located 12 kilometers north of the small industrial city of Siauliai (pronounced shoo-lay) is the Lithuanian national pilgrimage center. Standing upon a small hill are many hundreds of thousands of crosses that represent Christian devotion and a memorial to Lithuanian national identity. The size and variety of crosses is as amazing as their number. Beautifully carved out of wood or sculpted from metal, the crosses range from three meters tall to the countless tiny examples hanging profusely upon the larger crosses. An hour spent upon the sacred hill will reveal crosses brought by Christian pilgrims from all around the world. Rosaries, pictures of Jesus and the saints, and photographs of Lithuanian patriots also decorate the larger crosses. On windy days breezes blowing through the forest of crosses and hanging rosaries produces a uniquely beautiful music.

via 360 Cities on 6/16/10

Panoramic photo by PaVeL Bobkov.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

kurortne

via 360 Cities on 7/22/10
Panoramic photo by Tibor Illes.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Official webpages Trailer video

via 360 Cities on 7/22/10
Panoramic photo by Ivan Tsyrkunovich.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

via 360 Cities on 7/22/10
Panoramic photo by Dmitri Melinchuk.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

via 360 Cities on 7/22/10
Panoramic photo by Andrea Biffi.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

The Church of Saint-Séverin is a church in the Latin Quarter of Paris, located on the lively tourist street Rue Saint-Séverin. It is one of the oldest churches that remains standing on the Left Bank, and it continues in use as a place of worship. The church is dedicated to Séverin, who is said to have been a hermit who lived there and prayed in a small rudimentary oratory. After Séverin’s death, a basilica was constructed on the spot. This was destroyed by the Vikings, and the current church building was started in the 11th century, though its major features are late Gothic and date from the 15th century. Its external features include some fine gargoyles. Its bells include the oldest one remaining in Paris, cast in 1412; their ringing is recalled in a well known poem in praise of Paris by Alan Seeger. Internal features of the church include both ancient stained glass and a set of seven modern windows by Jean René Bazaine, inspired by the seven sacraments of the Catholic church, around the ambulatory. The ambulatory also includes an unusual pillar in the form of the trunks of a palm tree, that brings to mind the Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn Chapel. The construction of the marble choir was made possible by donations from Anne, Duchess of Montpensier, a cousin of Louis XIV. The organ is signed Jean Ferrand. …from Wikipedia

via 360 Cities on 7/21/10
Panoramic photo by Christopher Blake.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Mount Hope Bridge from the Bristol Side in Mount Hope Bay

via 360 Cities on 7/21/10
Panoramic photo by Tayfun Boylu.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Khao San Road takes off at night: neon signs flicker into life, music begins blasting from streetside sound systems, while the masses begin mapping out the long, alcohol-soaked night in front of them. And there’s no shortage of choices. From the (relatively) upscale Silk Bar and Cinnamon, to the quiet tranquility of the back-alley Hippie de Bar, or the crude charms of a kerb-side cocktail shack complete with plastic stools and ghetto blaster, there’s something to suit every mood, taste, budget and state of cleanliness. Some of the truly thrifty even opt to purchase beers from the local 7/11 and drink on the street, hobo style.  More

via 360 Cities on 7/21/10
Panoramic photo by Melkan Bassil.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Lebanon is a land of water, this is also why the country position is geopolitically so complex. As it is also a land of loss, the country is loosing milliards of cubic meter of water every year. The ministry of energy & water has a plan to build 27 water barrier over the country; so far this is the first one in the project.

via 360 Cities on 7/21/10
Panoramic photo by Rami Saarikorpi.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Ilosaarirock in Brief This year (2010) is the 40th consecutive year of the Ilosaarirock Festival. The first festival, called Rock Rieha (Rock Rave), took place in 1971 on the Ilosaari island (which literally translates as Fun island) in the Pielisjoki River that runs through the heart of Joensuu. This is how the festival got its name. Rokki, as the event is informally known, has grown to be one of the main events of the Finnish rock festival calendar. The 21 000 tickets on sale have been sold out in advance every year during the past decade. There is a total of five stages at the festival, in addition to the club events, held on Friday at the actual festival site. During its entire history, the festival has presented bands and artists from both Finland and abroad and represented a multitude of popular music genres. Ilosaarirock is highly regarded by the national live music industry with many of the Finnish major promoters, manager agents, and concert venue owners dropping in at some point over the weekend. Source: http://www.ilosaarirock.fi/2010/

via 360 Cities on 7/20/10
Panoramic photo by Andrea Biffi.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

The Paris Pantheon (from Greek, it means “Every god”) is a building in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The inscription above the entrance reads AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE. This is because during the early stages of the French Revolution, the National Constituent Assembly decided to convert the old church Abbey of St. Genevieve, already remodeled in 1790, it into a secular mausoleum for prominent Frenchmen. An early example of neoclassicism, with a façade modeled on the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante’s “Tempietto”, the Pantheon looks out over all of Paris. Among those buried in its necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Marie Skłodowska-Curie, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, the architects of the Pantheon. …more on wikipedia

via 360 Cities on 7/20/10
Panoramic photo by Martin Broomfield.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

I was walking around Paris looking for a shot. I thought the red scooter would make a good forground image, then the bride wafted in on the breeze. I have no idea where the groom went.

via 360 Cities on 7/19/10
Panoramic photo by Ivan Roslyakov.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

This is the place where God gave to Moses Ten Commandments. We were lucky to come there on the sunset, and spent unforgettable night on the top, one of incredible views from there is this VR. Comming more ;)

via 360 Cities on 7/19/10
Panoramic photo by Clifford Compton.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Annual Mt. Carmel Fireworks, Berkley Heights NJ. I don’t LOVE this pano, images were very grainy, But what the heck, its fun….

via 360 Cities on 7/19/10
Panoramic photo by Sotero Ferreira.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

via 360 Cities on 7/19/10
Panoramic photo by Sotero Ferreira.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by Andrey Dorogin.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by Neil Creek.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

The sun heads towards the horizon over a snowy clearing in the Australian alpine bush on Mount Hotham.

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10
Panoramic photo by Supasit Srisawathsak.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Brooklyn bridge on the middle. One of the nice place to walk across in summer.

via 360 Cities on 7/18/10

Panoramic photo by Ryan Helinski.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Roger Berry, our intrepid adventurer who spends a great deal of time in India photographing tigers, elephants, and other animals, has a great set of panoramas from the backwaters of Kerala. He says:

Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, is a town in Alappuzha District of Kerala state of southern India. A town with picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches, and lagoons where I enjoyed the slow boat cruses through the canals stopping along the way for fried bananas, fresh fish, coconut beer and sweet fresh coffee.


Alappuzha (Alleppey) Kerala Backwaters Boat Ride in India

Be sure to click through to the main panorama page to see many more boat panoramas from this area. Thanks Roger!

One of the most wonderful applications for spherical panoramas is the ability to visualize a place – we all know that. The question for us panoramic photographers then becomes “what crazy place can I place the camera to let the viewer visualize a place where they could never possibly go?”

The answer is often “the top of a tower”. Here are a few examples of panoramas from towers. This might give you vertigo if you’re so inclined. Be sure to click “fullscreen”!

First, let’s go to the glass skywalk observation deck of the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shangai, photographed by Jook Leung. Be sure to look down!


Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower glass skywalk observation deck in Shanghai

Next, let’s see some “tower without the tower” panoramas. This is done by treating the entire tower like a panoramic tripod head. Since everything is so far away, you can make a fully spherical image by walking (and shooting) all the way around the tower.

Here is the Eiffel Tower at night, photographed by Ninoslav Adzibaba:


View from Eiffel Tower in Paris

Next, we’ll go to Berlin, to the top of the TV Tower, courtesy of Willy Kaemena:


TV Tower Berlin in Berlin

Finally, we’ll go to the tiny, ancient town of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, where we’ve got a gigapixel (that means – zoom in – more – more!) panorama from the castle tower (courtesy of your correspondent):


Gigapixel from Krumlov Tower in Cesky Krumlov

If you want to see more panoramas of, in, around, and above towers, you can search for it over on our main site.

Wow, that was some incredible response to the MC Escher panorama from Boing Boing! Thanks everybody!

Let me take this moment to say – this is only ONE out of TENS OF THOUSANDS of incredible panoramas we’ve got from all over the world.

If you want to keep tabs on all the awesomeness we have to offer, be sure to subscribe to this blog or get updates via email.

You can also subscribe to our EDITOR’S PICKS panoramas (about 25 wonderful panoramas per week).l

Or if you’re into Facebook, you can join our Facebook page here.

Thanks, and enjoy! Come back soon :-)

For all fans of the granddaddy of psychedelia, mind-bending, hyper-perspective craziness, MC Escher, our photographer member Nico Roig has created this amazing “Tribute to Escher” from a computer-generated 3d environment, and then converted it into an interactive spherical panorama. Take a look!


Tribute to Escher in Barcelona

Russia: Tree on Mashuk in summer – Pyatigorsk, Russia

Panoramic photo by Pavel Bogdanov.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Lisbon: Praça do Comercio

Panoramic photo by Willy Kaemena.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

California: Devil’s Golf Course

Panoramic photo by Rod Edwards.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Ouvea Loyalty Islands New Caledonia: Ouvea Hotel Paradis Loyalty Islands New Caledonia Gazebo

Panoramic photo by Richard Chesher.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

India: Elephant Bathing in the Periyar River, Kodanad Rescue Center

Panoramic photo by Roger Berry.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

New Paltz: Oct2009 Minnewaska Lake

Panoramic photo by Konstantin.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

France: Rue Grande à Arbois (Jura)

Panoramic photo by Philippe-Emmanuel Chassaing.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Yemen: Fishing shacks with ships near Al-Khawhkah – Yemen

Panoramic photo by Sergej Esnault.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Finland: Rising storm

Panoramic photo by Janne.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Paris: View from Eiffel Tower

Panoramic photo by Ninoslav Adzibaba.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Novi Sad: Exit Festival Exit Music Live Stage

Panoramic photo by Ninoslav Adzibaba.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Ukraine: River Prut

Panoramic photo by Oleg Shevchyshyn.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

We’ve got quite a big plans to show businesses on the 360 Cities site. Let us share some of them.

Most of our member photographers have already noticed that we only allow the 360 Cities PRO account members to publish business panoramas. We review every single of your published panoramas and we do not allow publishing of business panos if you don’t have a PRO account. Therefore you might have thought that it’s actually a bad thing for you when your panorama gets reviewed as business. Well, think again.

Today I’m going to show you the first three things how we are actually planning to make it useful for you if a pano gets reviewed as business. The good news is that these features are going to happen very soon, some of them are already live on the site.

Popular businesses in the footer

The most popular business panoramas are shown in the footer of all 360cities.net pages. The popularity is currently based on the number of views of the panoramas.

This feature is currently live.

Business panoramas on the homepage

The place where you now see Editor’s Picks, Most Recent and Most Popular tabs on the homepage is soon going to contain the most popular business panoramas on 360 Cities.

This feature will go live probably next week.

Better SEO for PRO accounts (no nofollow attribute)

You probably want the best possible SEO juice for your business panoramas. If you put a link into the description of one of your panoramas then we currently place a rel=”nofollow” attribute in it, which means that the search engines do not value the link as much. Now for PRO accounts, the attribute is going to be removed so everybody who owns a 360 Cities PRO account can enjoy the full SEO juice for that link. Always remember to write long and original descriptions, though. That ensures your panorama is found by search engines because they don’t see the content of the panorama and there is almost nothing else on the page. The more visibility and the better pagerank for your panorama pages, the more SEO juice your links will get.

This feature will go live probably next week.

PRO account badges on images and profile pages

We’ve been asked for this many times and we’ll soon have it. Every panorama published by a PRO account(business or otherwise) will get a PRO badge to show the status of the photographer. The PRO badge will also appear on the home page, in the recent activity page, etc. Basically everywhere where the photographer’s name appears.

360 Cities PRO Account Badge

It has not been decided when this feature will go live.

More?

Yes, there will be more, including promoting the business panoramas more on the map, show-casting PRO photographers and business panoramas on various parts of the site, etc. Give us some time to figure out how to do it properly and stay tuned.

Mark Fink has created a blog featuring the Hudson Valley in New Your state and his panos hosted on 360 Cities.  It’s intriguing to see how our PRO members are using 360 Cities to promote businesses, their photography and tourism destinations they know and love.   Thank you, Mark, for bringing the Hudson Valley to our attention – I look forward to visiting on one of my trips to the U.S.