Archive for November, 2011

360° panorama by Rahim hamada.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

360° panorama by Giovanni Saini.
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360° panorama by Arno Dietz.
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Die Meilerhütte (2.374 m) ist eine hochalpine Hütte des DAV-Sektion Garmisch-Partenkirchen im Wettersteingebirge. Sie ist von Mitte Juni bis Anfang Oktober bewirtschaftet und verfügt über 83 Schlafplätze und einen ganzjährig zugänglichen Winterraum (6 Lager und Matratzen).Quelle
360° panorama by Riess FotoDesign.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

"...Dive 17 (104) Marsa ShounaThe final dive of the trip is in a bay near Marsa Alam known as Marsa Shouna – which translates as the bay where fishermen meet. It is known for its sea grass and the animals which live in the grass………"http://patandpaulharvey.blogspot.com/2010/08/elphenston-again-and-marsa-shouna-day-6.html
360° panorama by Riess FotoDesign.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

.…Den letzten Tag verbringen die Taucher dann noch in El Desha, El Shoona oder Gota Abu Ramada und wer fit ist und den teils heftigen Wellengang und das heftige Schaukeln der Boote an den Brothers überstanden hat, erlebt hier noch weitere schöne Tauchgänge….http://www.unterwasserwelt.de/html/premiere_safari_2005_2.html
360° panorama by Riess FotoDesign.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Mitten im Roten Meer, etwa auf der Höhe von Marsa Alam, findet sich einer der spektakulärsten Tauchplätze in Ägypten: Das Daedalus Riff. Wie die Brother Islands ist auch das Daedalus Riff nur mittels einer mehrtägigen Tauchsafari erreichbar, meist während einer Tour in Verbindung mit Brothers und Elphinstone. Wer hier abtaucht, ist oft nur in zweiter Linie an dem grandiosen Bewuchs oder allgemeinen Fischreichtum interessiert – er will das Rudel Hammerhaie sehen, welches sich recht standorttreu bei Daedalus aufhält und welches dem Riff zu seiner Popularität verholfen hat. f.f.http://www.tauchen-ultimativ.de/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=239&Itemid=89
Example panorama shot with the hidden panorama mode in iOS 5 / iPhone 4s
Example panorama shot with the hidden panorama mode in iOS 5 / iPhone 4s. Click image to open the full size.

We’ve made a video to show you how to modify your iPhone’s backup file to enable the “panorama mode” that’s currently hidden inside the camera. Read below for more thoughts on this feature.


Here are the basic instructions: 1. Save backup of your iPhone in iTunes;  2. Install and run the application “iBackupBot”; 3. Find the file “com.apple.mobileslideshow.plist” and open it; 4. under the line that says <key>DiskSpaceWasLow</key> <false/> , put
<key>EnableFirebreak</key> <true/> 5. SAVE! 6. Quick iBackupBot, return to iTunes; 7. Restore your iphone to this backup; 8. Unplug your iPhone from your computer; 9. In your phone, open the camera. tap “options” and activate panorama mode; 10. Start shooting!

Now, I’ve go to say how exciting it is to see this panorama mode finally. We all knew it was coming, didn’t we :-) It was with some disappointment that this feature, rumored to exist already for months, didn’t appear in the iPhone 4s release event.

How does it actually work? Well it seems to be essentially a “slit scan” panorama: imagine if you used your flatbed scanner to take a photograph, by moving it slowly from left to right. It seems that this iphone panorama mode has all the shortcomings of such an approach: it only works moving in a specific direction, and moving objects (ones that are moving either with or against the direction of shooting) become very weird in the final image.

Since you don’t actually have to move your phone at a predefined speed (this would make it basically impossible to use), the panorama mode is clearly utilizing the phone sensors to determine how often to take a vertical strip from the camera buffer and add it to the panorama. The final image has far fewer “stitching errors” (seams where two individual images are blended together) because there isn’t much being really stitched, rather the image is sort of “painted” across. This does however give some very strange geometry to the image, where straight lines are not straight, but neither are they curved in a predictable (as in a “true panorama) way – I’d personally rather see more stitching errors than crooked lines, but I think this is up to individual preference.

Exposure is also locked, and probably white balance also (though I didn’t check). This has strengths and weaknesses – while it’s nearly always good to lock the white balance when shooting a panorama, it can actually be beneficial NOT to completely lock the exposure, especially on “partial panoramas” (images smaller than 360º in width and 180º in height) – it’s a fact that when you’re shooting such a large area, there will always be large variations in the lighting of the scene. Unless your sensor has very high dynamic range (and again, this iphone panorama mode seems not to be using any HDR, tonemapping, or exposure fusion techniques) then locking the exposure usually results in a rather flat image with large portions being completely under- or over-exposed. In fact, almost every “super-wide” or 360-degree image needs a considerable amount of exposure blending and unsharp mask in order to improve both local and global contrast in a way that is seldom necessary in “normal” photographs.

The saved panorama size is somewhere around 6122×2852 pixels which is about 17.45 megapixels.

Here are some examples of panoramas that we shot.

example 1 of a panorama shot using the iphone 4s hidden panorama mode

Example 1 of a panorama shot using the iphone 4s hidden panorama mode. Click image to enlarge.

 

Example 2 of a panorama shot using the iphone 4s hidden panorama mode

Example 2 of a panorama shot using the iphone 4s hidden panorama mode. Click image to enlarge.

Here is what happens if someone walks past you while you’re shooting. This shows probably the biggest drawback to this “slit scan” technique of capturing a panoramic image. If you were shooting multiple photos which were then stitched together, you might hope to get multiple people in the same image (kind of of funny at least) instead of this slightly freaky humanesque form squished across the image :-)

Example 4 of a panorama shot using the iphone 4s hidden panorama mode. Click image to enlarge.

Example 4 of a panorama shot using the iphone 4s hidden panorama mode. Click image to enlarge.

So, my conclusion? I’m glad it’s not public yet – this is cool but it’s not ready. Panoramas are hard to shoot, but I think mobile phones are ready to help the user create beautiful and nearly perfect 360º panoramas with the aid of the excellent image sensor and all of the other sensors (gyroscope, accelerometer, compass). A 120º panorama such as the ones above are ok, but why not any more? Well, 120º is probably the most comfortable distance you can pan a camera without physically turning your body, which will usually result in some serious errors unless you’ve practiced a little bit. However, is 120º so much better than a single picture? Maybe. But given the other panoramic imaging apps out there (photosynth, dermandar, occipital), I think I would pick any of those over this “native” panorama mode. But again, Apple probably knows all of this, which is why it’s not released yet.

In closing, let’s look at an example that demonstrates the real power of 360-degree photography in visualizing a place in a way that’s simply not possible with normal “flat” photography. This panorama, of a Bread Souq in Sana’a, Yeman, was shot by Stefan Geens (using a high-end SLR camera and fisheye lens). It will eventually be possible to make images like this with your smartphone but it might still take a few more years before it is really feasible…

Bread suq, Sana’a, Yemen in Yemen

360° panorama by Jan Dunlop.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Hidden under the Auckland Harbour Bridge is a Bungy Jump Pod. In true kiwi style, if its high enough you can bungy it!
360° panorama by Dirk von Loën-Wagner.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

View inside the Double Arch, Arches National Park, Utah, on a cloudy afternoon in july 2011. Due to the weather conditions it wasn't this crowded ;-)
360° panorama by Arroz Marisco.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

On the way to the 4830m high Siula Punta (Quesillococha Pass) one passes a series of three consecutive lakes, and by far, the 2nd lake, Laguna Siula is the largest of them all.