Archive for the ‘Guest Contribution’ Category

We would like to thank Johan Offermans & Karl Overholt for writing this blog post and for these amazing panoramas created at the Milan Expo 2015.


World’s fairs go as far back as 1851. They are global events with an objective to allow countries to share innovation, foster co-operation and educate the public. Large world expos welcome tens of millions of visitors from around the world and allow each of the participating countries to build special pavilions for the expo that can transform the landscape of a city. Some notable structures that have been built as part of past world expos include the Eiffel tower in Paris, France, the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium, project Habitat 67 and the biosphere in Montreal, Canada, the Space Needle in Seattle, US, and  the Unisphere in New York City, US.

Since the year 2000, world expos take place every five years and typically last six months. In between world expos, a smaller international specialized expo takes place that lasts up to three months.

So when I found out that the 2015 world’s fair, or Expo 2015, takes place in Milan, Italy, I really wanted to experience this event. Milan is only a 3.5 hour train ride away from where I live and I had never visited a world expo previously.  I obtained accredited photographer status for the event in order to take and publish 360 panoramas.

As it was my first visit to an Expo, I did not know what to expect or how the 2015 World Expo compares to previous Expos. There are 140 participating countries at Expo Milan 2015, each country having a different, and often creative, approach to the pavilions and interpretation of this year’s theme “Feeding the planet, Energy for Life”. The different pavilions are built close together, in an exhibition area of 1.1 million square meters.

This panorama, taken from the top of the US pavilion, gives you an idea of the overall experience: You are surrounded by different pavilions from different countries and there is a main, wide, covered passage going through the Expo between many of the pavilions.



Most of the pavilions are clearly temporary in nature. For example, the Belgian pavilion is made out of plywood, glass and solar panels.  Even so, it provided a fascinating experience through the information being offered but also the play of light that was created by the sun hitting the solar panels.


Some other pavilions are clearly intended to stay at the site for longer and transform the area.  Most notably, the large white building in this panorama is the Italian pavilion.  It is a large structure that is fascinating from both the inside as the outside.  On this photo, you can also see the “tree of life”, a contemporary interactive installation made for the Expo that is not only a reference point at the Expo but is also a place to relax by the water as you can see many people do in this panorama. The tree also comes alive during the day and the evening due to special effects and lighting.


And here is the Italian pavilion from the inside:


Some pavilions have the visitor do something active within the pavilion. A great example of this is the Brazilian pavilion where visitors can walk / climb on a net above plants. It was a very popular activity while we were there and makes the pavilion very memorable. This panorama was taken from underneath the net and shows the many people above enjoying the activity:


For me, the most unique pavilion, however, was the UK pavilion, which was build in the form of a cube / sphere which you can enter.  It is a very unique structure to see and visit.  This panorama shows the inside of the pavilion and I encourage you to also explore the other nearby panoramas that show the same structure from below and from the garden:


From the outside, the pavilion looks more like a cube / hive as you can see in this picture taken at sunset in the garden:


The theme for the Expo is feeding the planet. The different countries provided information about their current food production, but also about the future of food production. For example, this futuristic view of food production was in the cellar of the Belgian pavilion providing real-life examples of aquaponics, algae, insect farming, etc:


Many of the pavilions discussed their own food production and offered some of the local food for sale. Argentina is a great example of doing so in a colorful way:


The Expo runs from 1st May 2015 until 31st of October 2015. I thought it was a worthwhile experience, but would recommend two days as there is much to see and the lines in some of the pavilions can be long.  With the Expo expecting over 20 million visitors, it may become significantly more crowded as the word about the Expo spreads.

For our full set of panoramas from Expo 2015 have a look at our Expo 2015 set:

Our thanks to Maestro photographer Bill Edwards for his collaboration on writing this blog post.


This gallery is a reverential visit to a handful of the remaining fire lookouts in Washington State. For me, there is something completely magical about visiting a historic fire lookout. Although some are not too difficult to hike to, most require driving up terrible forest roads and hiking arduous miles up, up and up to reach their summit perches. The effort, however, is worth it because the destinations deliver stunning views that will take your breath away. And being there is a reminder of a more romantic past that represents an era before modern technology when solitary human beings dutifully scanned for signs of developing wildfires from austere glass walled cabins perched on rocky mountain summits throughout the northwest.

“It was a great life. You woke up to the greatest views of all. You breathed the freshest air in the world. You ate and did the chores when the spirit moved you. You had the whole mountain to call your own. And the government even paid you to be there! That’s how it was back in the 1930s when forestry agencies were working frantically to put a firewatcher on every mountaintop. Eight thousand men and women in the U.S. would spend each summer as an official government lookout during the three decades that followed.”

Ray Kresek, Heavens Gate Lookout, Idaho

In the early 1900s private fire watchers began to oversee the expansive white pine forests of Idaho. The arrival of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 and subsequent historic wildfires launched the building and staffing government lookouts to protect America’s half billion acres of national forests.

Early lookouts were non-standard, freelanced affairs that ranged from small tents to spacious log cabins.  By 1915 the U.S. Forest Service had established standards for cabin construction with a 12’ x 12’ D-6 ‘cupola design’ with a glassed-in second story observatory. Nearly 200 were constructed in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. By 1929 lookout designs had evolved to the L-4 model, a 14’ x 14’ frame cabin with gable shingle or hip roof and heavy shutters which were opened above the perimeter windows to provide shade in the summer. The original L-4 cost $500 from Spokane, WA or Portland, OR. This cabin was produced in kits for hauling by mule trains to their rugged mountain sites where they could be assembled on rock or cinder block foundations or timber towers. Other versions followed but the L-4 was the most ubiquitous with over 1,000 put into service. If you hike to many historic fire lookouts chances are high that you’ll visit an L-4.ç

“At the zenith of the lookout era there were more than 8,000 across America. Montana had 639. In Washington there were 656. Oregon had 849. Only in Idaho there were more, with a whopping 989 plus a hundred more “patrol” points visited each day! Only a few hundred are still manned, a few dozen by volunteers. The government rents some to would-be fire watchers to man a summit for a day or week. Others are even being restored by individuals at their own expense under special agreement with various agencies. Some of the cabins have become national historic monuments. Hundreds have survived only in tattered old photographs.”

Ray Kresek, Historic Lookout Project, Spokane, WA

According to recent records, only 92 of the 656 lookouts in Washington survive today, and there will likely be fewer in the future. Fire lookout hikes are among my favorites and I plan to visit as many as I can and add to this gallery as weather and time permit. I hope you enjoy these panoramas. Click here to check the “Fire Lookouts in Washington State” set.

Text and panoramas by Bill Edwards.

First of all, we want to thank Bill Edwards for writing this post and for his amazing work!

This panoramic photo series is focused on the work sites of the SR 99 Tunnel Project where a bored tunnel will replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, Washington.

Above the Launch Pit, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


Background on the SR 99 Tunnel Project:

The original viaduct is a two deck elevated section of State Route 99 that runs north-south above the surface street, Alaskan Way, along Seattle’s waterfront by Elliott Bay. The roadway was damaged during the 2001 Nisqually earthquake and had to be temporarily closed for emergency repairs.


South Cut-and-Cover, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


In the decade following the quake, state and local agencies studied more than 90 alternatives for replacing the viaduct. Leaders from the state, King County, City of Seattle and Port of Seattle ultimately recommended a bored tunnel, along with a host of other improvements, to replace the waterfront section of the viaduct. It was the only alternative that would allow SR 99 to remain open during construction, maintaining a vital stretch of state highway.


Bottom of Launch Pit, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


The SR 99 tunnel is a 2 mile tunnel in Seattle that is being bored by the world’s largest tunnel boring machine, named Bertha. Seattle Tunnel Partners, the contracting team hired by WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) to build the tunnel, is working to open the tunnel to traffic in late 2016. WSDOT maintains a website that keeps the public informed of the activity and progress on the project. Here is the address:


Northern Edge of Bored Tunnel, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


The story behind the panoramas:

As a former architect, the project intrigued me so I contacted a person in the communications department at WSDOT whose responsibility was the tunnel project. I indicated my interest in the project and suggested that virtual reality panoramic photography would be a great way to showcase the project online and would add dimension to their current online presentation of the project. The WSDOT site already had still photo galleries on Flickr and construction camera pages with time-lapse images so 360 panoramas would be a natural addition. Fortunately my contact immediately visualized the possibilities and benefits and decided to explore how to go forward.


Below Bertha, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


After deciding how to proceed, my contact scheduled a photo shoot of the construction activity at the south portal, the launch site of the tunnel project on August 7, 2014. She and an onsite WSDOT inspector signed me in, outfitted me and escorted me through the job site during photography. The site is a closed site so I had to sign in under their sponsorship, sign a liability waiver, wear boots, an orange safety vest, hard hat, safety googles and gloves. The shoot lasted 2 hours during which I shot 8 panoramas, 5 of which are featured in the virtual tunnel tour. A second shoot at the north portal, where the tunnel emerges, took place with the same conditions on September 12, 2014. That shoot lasted about an hour and a half during which I shot 5 panoramas, 4 of which were selected for the virtual tunnel tour.


Tunnel Receiving Pit, N Portal, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


Prior to the first shoot I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I’d have more time. What I didn’t know until later is that the narrow window of time that I was allotted was way more than usual. So my experience was that I needed to visualize the shots quickly and work fast to capture enough source images to create a usable panorama. I was in their house and had to adapt to what was going on because everything was in motion and nothing stopped to accommodate my photography. One of my challenges was to assess the movement of cranes, other equipment and construction workers and shoot enough frames during brief pauses in activity so I’d be able to successfully stitch them together into one realistic scene without parallax or other errors. I had to be conscious of picking stable surfaces for the tripod and assess how to shoot to get rid of tripod and extraneous people shadows in the down shots. I also needed to be mindful where my escorts were standing so I could instruct them where to move if they didn’t want to be in the shot. Since this was a once in a lifetime opportunity I tried to take enough extra ‘safety’ shots so every set up would result in a complete usable panorama. In summary, I had to visualize and work fast and try not to make mistakes.


North Portal, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


To get to the locations onsite required me to make several trips up and down temporary jobsite metal stair ways and vertically pitched extension ladders. I carried my camera in a Crumpler ‘6 Million Dollar Home’ camera bag and clipped my tripod to it with sling and climbing carabiner so I’d have both hands free on those extension ladders. That worked pretty well because I felt much safer with both hands on those steep exposed ladders. I shot with a Nikon D600 full frame DSLR, a Sigma 15mm f2.8 fisheye lens and Yongnuo RF-603N radio triggers. My tripod is a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 with a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead. On top of the ball head is a RSS panning bracket and a one-of-a-kind panoramic head that I designed and built for the Nikon D600 with the Sigma 15mm fisheye lens. It is significantly lighter and less expensive than any commercially available product. I designed it specifically for high country wilderness hiking trips where weight carried is a paramount consideration.


North Cut-and-Cover, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


The people that I met at WSDOT and on the work site were all very enthused about the project and really great to work with. It was exciting for me to be onsite and creatively satisfying to have the opportunity to make these panoramas which help the public actually see what is going on inside the project since tours inside the work zone are not possible for the general public.


Operations Building, SR 99 Tunnel Project, Seattle, WA


Submitted by: Bill Edwards 


Our thanks to Maestro photographer  for his collaboration on writing this blog post. You will be envious of his trip to Melanesia, but maybe it’s the closest you can get to it for the time being ;). Here you are some interesting facts about the Mount Yasur volcano:

  1. It’s is one of the most easily accessible live volcanos in the world. Anyone can walk right up it (361 meters; 1,184 feet) and peer down into its fiery belly.
  2. Huge explosions from the deep inside shake the ground frequently, so if you stand close to the volcano’s edge, it can be a scary experience. Be careful if you go there: three people have been killed over the years because they wandered down into lower, non-safe areas.
  3. Mount Yasur is called ‘‘the lighthouse of the Pacific.” Any guesses why?

Now, let’s enjoy Gregory’s trip without the risk of falling into the volcano:   I arrived at Evergreen Resort :

Tanna, Vanuatu : EverGreen Resort Garden

I went for a swim on the reef :

Tanna, Vanuatu : Evergreen Resort Reef at Low Tide

Then I had a rest in my room :

Tanna, Vanuatu : EverGreen Resort Garden

The day after…Tanna Island has very poor roads, so when they say 4wd they mean 4wd. A very bumpy couple of hours … This is a view from inside a typical banyan where locals can go have a shelter whenever there are cyclones.

Tanna, Vanuatu : Inside a banyan

After having visited this little cascade :

Vanuatu – Tanna Jungle

We continued our tour on our way to Mount Yasur . They call this place “The Belly of Mount Yasur”:

Tanna Island, Mont Yasur Volcano : On my way to the Volcano

This is down the other side of Mount Yasur :

Tanna Island, Mont Yasur : Down the Volcano

On the edge of the crater, first shot at 17h00: There is a bit of a climb up the side of the volcano and there are no real safety arrangements up there, so be careful. It was interesting in daylight, but amazing at night.

Tanna Island, Mont Yasur Volcano, 17h00

17h30 The sun is disappearing, it’s getting harder to shoot …

Tanna Island, Mont Yasur Volcano, 17h30

17h45 shot :

Tanna Island, Mont Yasur Volcano, 17h45

Last shot, at 18h00 :

Tanna Island, Mont Yasur Volcano, 18h00 – The Lighthouse Of The Pacific

The observatory building and telescope are outstanding examples of late 19th-century architecture and technical achievement.

Yerkes Observatory, South Entrance

Yerkes Observatory, Side View


In the 1880s, one of the goals of the trustees of the University of Chicago was to establish a first-rate Department of Astrophysics, on par with leading schools of the East.  As part of this aggressive development program, George Hale (1868-1938), son of an influential Chicago family and MIT graduate, was appointed head of the newly established Department of Astrophysics.


Yerkes Observatory, Lobby


Hale, an experienced astronomer, who had invented the spectrahelioscope while still a student at MIT, was the ideal person to advance the goal of creating a great observatory for the University (a spectrahelioscope is an instrument mounted on a telescope, used to study the Sun’s light).  The University could not have found a person with greater intellectual, organizational, conceptual, and promotional abilities than Hale.


Yerkes Observatory, Portico


Yerkes Observatory, Staircase


Hale first located two 42-inch (106.68 centimeters) glass blanks that were originally intended to be used in a telescope on Mt. Wilson, California (just north of Pasadena).  Funds for this new University of Chicago observatory–a monumental undertaking–were provided by the financier, Charles Yerkes, after several meetings with Hale. The building was designed by Henry Ives Cobb.

Yerkes Observatory, Elevator/Platform

Yerkes Observatory, Spiral Stairs


The mount for the telescope was designed and built by Warner & Swasey in Cleveland, and was displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, billed as the largest telescope in the world.  For example, the mount is 43 feet (13 meters) high and weighs 50 tons.  The telescope tube is over 60 feet (18 meters) long and weighs about 6 tons.  Warner & Swasey also built the 90-foot (27 meters) diameter dome and a 73-foot (22.25 meters) diameter elevator platform/floor.


Yerkes Observatory, South Entrance Steps

Yerkes Observatory, Museum Display


We want to thank David Mariotti for writing this blog post and for creating these interesting panoramas.

The riots on Kiev’s Independence Square ended on February 21. These panoramas were shot by 360Cities contributor Deema on February 22. He says, “that was the first day I had the possibility to take my camera and lens after several months.”

Deema has also spoken of his opinion and thoughts about the events in Kiev.


The barricade near Maidan, Kiev.


– What was it like away from Independence Square?


Euromaidan upper view, Kiev


  Almost during the whole time Kiev lived an ordinary life. Indeed, the Government city region (Maidan, Khreschatyk, Grushevskogo, Institutskaya) changed significantly. Other areas were affected for only 3 days, from February 19 – 22, when the Government planned to use brute force and closed the underground transportation.


The main barricade, Kiev.


Another problem was at night time. The Government brought in many paid provocateurs, called “titushki”, to terrorize the city. I spent several nights as part of a patrol in my neighborhood to maintain the peace.


Dynamo stadium, Kiev.


The Hill of Cry, Kiev.

– What were your feelings after it was over?

People were very upset because of the murders and because they understood that the end is still far off. As for me: I’m still thinking the revolution is the ‘wrong way to solve the wrong problem’, but I’m not ashamed and I helped people to remove the dangerous criminals from authority. “Do, what You must to do, and let it be”.


Crowd near the Maidan, Kiev. 


– Has Kiev returned to normal life?

Physically yes, psychologically no, and I’m suspecting that ordinary life will not be restored for a long time.


Zhovtnevy Palats, Kiev.

Zhovtnevy Palats, Kiev.

We want to thank Deema for his images and remarks. We are always interested in new panoramas of significant events. Let us help you share them with a wider audience.

Occasionally, a piece of history presents itself in front of your eyes without you even knowing it. This is what happened with a panorama created by Roelof de Vries and recently uploaded to 360Cities. The panorama shows the great Dutch writer Harry Mulisch in his office.



Harry Mulisch was one of the “Great Three” writers of the Dutch postwar period. He was born in 1927 in the Netherlands. World War II featured prominently in his work. He and his Jewish mother were interned to a concentration camp during World War II but managed to escape thanks to his father’s help. When describing his World War II experiences, he used to say, “I don’t just remember it, I am World War II”.

He became an internationally well-known writer thanks to one of his books, “The Assault“(1982). This work tells the story of Anton, a teenager who lost his family and house during World War II. He tries to forget all the disasters of the war, but it is not easy. This novel has a film adaptation with the same name, produced and directed by Fons Rademakers. This film won the best foreign film and the Golden Globe and the Oscar awards in 1986.



This panorama was taken two years before the death of the author in 2010, at Harry Mulisch’s office. It’s really interesting to investigate the space, all his books and all the decorative objects, also a picture of Albert Einstein. Can you find it?

Roelof de Vries, the author of this panorama, says about this experience:

“For me this was a really special project. I had my company Little Planet for just one year and this was the first big assignment and for one of the biggest Dutch newspapers. Also the whole concept was quite innovative at that time. Meeting Harry Mulisch was amazing.”

The photograph belongs to a series of panoramas called “Writers at Work”, the photographer created this series in collaboration with NRC Handelsblad newspaper and over a year he made a series of panoramas about the greatest Dutch writers. “With a total of 20 panoramas this series tells the story about the writer and his office and the importance of the office for the work he/she creates. So, every two weeks, a journalist and I visited a new writer. The journalist held an interview with the writer about his office and I made the panorama”, says Roelof, from Little Planet.

We are looking forward to see more panoramas from this series, really interesting work. Also, we would like to thank, Roelof de Vries, for his cooperation in writing this post.

The 360Cities Team

Richard Chesher joined 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 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 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.

Photo by Amypalko



We’ve just created a new category for blog posts created by you, the awesome panoramic photographers who make up our community. The category is called “Guest Contributions” and we hereby invite you to share your insights about techniques, technical improvements, or the story behind panoramas that you’ve uploaded to

Please send your ideas to Write “Guest Contribution” in the subject field. We’ll get back to you to discuss and agree on next steps, the goal being to turn as many ideas as possible into interesting blog posts.

The 360Cities Team

This is last fifth part of the 360° underwater panorama tutorial series by Richard Chesher. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Here is an image of a school of reef fish taken with the robot I mentioned in part 4:

And here is one taken very close to a school small tropical fish

A 3 Volt Hankscraft “Display” motor rotates the camera rig at 1 rpm. I put the motor in a PCV housing with the shaft going through a 1/8″ o-ring sealed camera control fitting. I made a hook mount on the shaft and a bracket to attach to the camera bracket on the other end. There is also a switch and a battery holder (2 AA cells) inside the case (photo below).

Underwater panorama rotator robot

The upper end is attached to the lower end of a section of a pool noodle float – just enough so there remains about 1kg of negative buoyancy for the whole rig. I use the robot as shown in photo 4 for shots close to the bottom or add a length of aluminium strap to raise the camera off the bottom if required.

A GentLED Auto time lapse module triggers the camera.  The camera fits snugly in the Ikelite camera housing and there is no room to place even such a tiny control module as the GentLED Auto. James Gentled was so kind as to make a special GentLED Auto unit with the LED on a short wire extension so I could fit it into the Ikelite housing. I attach the GentLED Auto using a sticky clay-like goo purchased in a stationary store (photo below). I turn on the timer, but not the camera, just before getting into the water and then seal the camera case. The control is set to trigger the camera once every 3 seconds, giving some 20 photos per 360 degrees.

When I have the camera in place I turn it on and check to be sure it is taking photos. Then Freddy and I swim off and spend 15 to 20 minutes taking photos with our other cameras. 20 minutes gives the fish time to get back to their normal behaviour and yields some 400 images. When I return I unhook the float and the motor housing and attach these to each other. Freddy swims off with them and I take the down and up images with the liberated camera.

Post processing becomes a challenge when you have to select 12 to 14 images out of 400 – especially when they contain constantly shifting schools of fish. Unlike land photos, you can’t control the rotational angle of each image because the camera is always moving from wave surge and currents. Sometimes a wave surge will move the camera rapidly – sometimes the focus isn’t correct – and you need an overabundance of images to select from.

Once I have my prime series selected I do all of the color, lighting and contrast corrections to each image in Photoshop before stitching. I save the processed RAW images in TIFF format.

I have tried both PTGui and AutoPano for stitching the underwater panos. I found AutoPano was the easiest and best for stitching these complex images. It works wonders – usually stitching the pano on the first try with practically no adjustments needed. It’s anti-ghosting feature is excellent and I rarely have any half-fish – a big issue when there are hundreds of fish in the image. It also adjusts for color and lighting variations so the end result looks great. After stitching I save the image as a TIFF file and correct any problems in Photoshop. Next I convert the image to cube faces using Pano2VR. I de-fisheye the down shot, open the bottom cube face in Photoshop and cover the nadir with the down shot, carefully matching it with the rest of the bottom view. (I rarely can get the bottom to stitch well in the original image because it is difficult to reposition the camera at exactly the same location). Then I fill in zenith hole in the top cube face and reassemble the cube faces back into a rectilinear image in Pano2VR.

This is last fifth part of the 360° underwater panorama tutorial series by Richard Chesher. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.