How to make 360-degree photos (photospheres)

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I learned how to make my own 360-degree photos for Facebook and Google Maps by using a DSLR & tripod instead of the Google Streetview iOS App, and achieved much higher resolution. It takes more time, but the results are pretty good I think! It was a 5 hour learning curve on a slow night, but I’ve got the hang of it now.

Next up, trying this at a darker sky location to get a better view of the stars!

See 4 of my new images on Google Maps below, then resources and my tips at the bottom.


Resources I used:

  1. How To: Create a Photo Sphere With Your DSLR Camera
  2. How To: Editing Facebook 360 Photos & Injecting Metadata
  3. Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom CC
  4. Google Streetview mobile app (for importing into Google Maps)
  5. Exiftool (for importing into Facebook)

My tips:

  • Use Manual shooting mode on your DSLR. Turn off auto white balance, and make sure all your exposures have the same settings.
  • Use a tripod which you can turn your camera vertical, and make sure the tripod camera mount is level (mine has a bubble level on it and made it easier). I also used a wired shutter trigger.
  • I used a 10-18mm wide angle lens, and set it to 10mm. It took me about 45 pictures, each overlapping at least 20%, to capture the whole scene. First pass (level, looking straight ahead) was about 15 pictures, then 15 pictures angled up, and another 15 angled down). There are panoramic tripod camera mounts that make this easier, but that costs $.
  • Adobe Lightoom made this easier, you select all the pictures in the series and a couple clicks gets you there, but it took my laptop about 20 minutes processing time. If you took pics in RAW format, turn them to JPG first so your computer doesn’t have to do more work!
  • Final 360 images need to be a 2:1 ratio and use “spherical” projection. Facebook requires MAXIMUM 6,000 pixels wide by max 3,000 pixels high (always in 2:1 ratio). Google Streetview can take more, but I limited mine to 12,000 w by 6,000 h.
  • You can edit the “start point” in your 360 image by using Photoshop CC 2015’s menu: Filter / Other / Offset. I would recommend only changing the horizontal offset for starters or else you can get weird results.
  • Facebook needs special EXIF tags to know it’s a 360° photo, so it took me a while to find out “inject” metadata using the PC/Mac free software called “Exiftool.” There are probably other ways to do this, but read the #2 resource link above for what I followed.
  • I’ll add more tips here as I learn them myself!

-Marty

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