Richard Chesher joined 360Cities.net in 2007 and has posted 288 images of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Australia. He is an Expert Pro and his images have had over 1.5 million views. He has contributed to the blog before on how to take Underwater 360 Panoramas: This blog is about how to expand the impact of your panoramas with themes and descriptions.
By Richard Chesher, Ph.D.
Trekking New Caledonia Dumbea River Pool
I love sphere images. For me, a sphere image is a memory bubble; a perceptive memory of a focal point that can be shared with thousands of people all over the world – thanks to 360Cities.net and Google Earth. Using the metaphor of a memory bubble has some real advantages (to me) when I am planning an image, or looking for the perfect place to set up my camera.
Think of it like this: Memory bubbles allow viewers to extend their perception through time and space and, from that vantage place, look out and turn their own perception in any direction they wish. So when you create a memory, it will be more effective, more interesting, if the viewer knows more about what they are looking at – so they can share the memory.
I Was Here Style Memory Bubbles
The vast majority of images on 360Cities.net are “I was here” images – landscapes, seascapes, aerial images, monuments – documenting that location. It’s what Google Earth likes and what Street-View has made into a viewable interactive model of many cities in the world.
These memory bubbles allow people to locate places they want to visit and, if the images are taken with care, reveal our planet’s beautiful, special, unique places, creatures and events as clear, sharp, delightful memory bubbles; captured from just the right angle, just the right light, when they are looking their finest.
Ouvea Paradis Beach Footprints
The above memory bubble from Ouvea shows a pair of lover’s footprints along one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – the footprints vanished with the next tide but they remain in the matrix, available for anyone to experience.
By providing the viewer with a written description of what the image means to you, the creator of the memory, you help shape the viewer’s enjoyment of the moment. Locations and moments like this are very few and far between, and precious to record. My wife and I waited two weeks to get the light, beach, water, and sky just right to make this memory bubble reveal the beach looking just right.
Themed Memory Bubbles
Memory bubbles become more interesting if they reveal a story, and not just a place or a thing. This is important because it gives the memory bubble an added depth of meaning. One of my favorite themes for memory bubble stories is life in the tropical Lagoon. I make memory bubbles showing behavior of sea creatures; not a photo of a reef or a fish or a shark, but the interacting behavior one senses when actually percieving the moment.
Coral Reef Fish New Caledonia
These brilliant yellow fish form dense schools over the coral reefs during the day – but they move away if a diver approaches to photograph them. To tell the story of these snoozing fish I had to think of a way of moving the focal point of my memory bubble right into their midst – a place they would not let me actually go.
So I anchored the underwater camera in the center of their usual schooling area with a little motor to turn it around. After I swam away and got back in my dinghy the fish resumed to their normal behaviour and the robot camera captured them undisturbed. Getting the image took 6 months of tinkering from the time I first decided I wanted to take it.
Water Sports Noumea New Caledonia
Sometimes a story happens by surprise – like when a sea turtle appeared while I was taking photographs of starfish gathering to spawn in a marine reserve. Surprise opportunities mean you have to be quick to get the shot. Again a description of the surprise adds an important element to the memory bubble – revealing why the girl in the image (my wife) is laughing.
Bird Fish Feeding Frenzy New Caledonia
The ideal memory bubble image would tell the story without any written comment at all. Like this image recording a mad feeding frenzy of sea birds and fish. – every fisherman will know right away what’s going on here. But not everyone is a fisherman and a description can make all the difference in the world to the viewer’s ability to share the memory.
Triton Attacks Crown Of Thorns Starfish
Very few people in the world would know what this memory bubble is about – or why it is an important story about the survival of coral reefs in many parts of our world. I wrote a really long description of that memory because it was, for me, quite a stellar day in my life. As with all of my descriptions I write in the first person – this is happening to me – to help re-create the memory bubble in the mind of those who will, in the future, revisit this moment in time.
If you take the time to do the image correctly it obviously means more to you than just the scene. So share the story, too.