Earlier this year we were approached by a web development company. It turns out their client’s website needed some updated 360 content (specifically street view in this case). Their client (who will remain nameless) had some Google Street View photos taken a few years ago. Even by their standards it was pretty sub-par. To people who are not exposed to 360 photography it might not be so obvious. To someone who works in 360 all the time… well let just show you. Today we are looking at amateur 360 Photography and what to look for.
Examples Of Amateur 360 Photography & Bad Editing
Super Low Resolution
One of the worst offenders of amateur 360 photography is super low resolution. This is normally the culprit of people using their smart phones. We hear clients say at times “yes our Intern James told us he can take 360 photos with his smart phone”. These normally have a few major flaws but the main one is that the photos are blurry (also badly stitched) which is shown below. Smart phones cameras while constantly improving are no match for professional DSLR camera optics. The same is definitely true about professional 360 cameras and equipment. While they can do the job technically speaking its not on the same level of quality.
Take the below snapshot the main issue is that the resolution is so small on any screen it looks over-pixelated like it was taken in the 1990’s.
When you combine images to make a 360 panorama they require ‘stitching” this is the process that blends all the photos together. We mostly see this on smart phones and amateur DSLR photographers where the stitching is so bad you have literal body parts missing. Take the below example… its just a foot, seriously where is the rest of the body. Not to forget that the columns and railing are really badly stitched. It kind of looks like you are in that movie Inception staring Leonardo Di Caprio and reality is breaking down around you.
To prevent vertigo and other disorienting factors when making a 360 photo / video you need to have the camera aligned correctly. If you don’t it can feel like you are about to fall over. The below image was taken from a 360 photo on Google Street View. It honestly feels like I will fall in the water. As a result a lot of people with smart phones and selfie sticks are usually the reason for this happening and a good example of amateur 360 photography.
As mentioned a complete 360 photo combines many photos together and many factors must be taken into account. One factor that must be taken into consideration when you merge the photos, is that the lighting must be consistent. The reason for this that the photo needs to be seamless and be a smooth experience throughout. The below photo is an example of a ceiling. As you can easily see 4 separate colour tones from the centre. This is because while the photo was stitched together well the lighting was not accounted for. This gives of the feeling of 4 segmented parts of the 360 panorama.
Ghosting is when you have strange anomalies when you stitch a photo that can look like a “ghost”. A professional 360 photographer or videographer will edit their work to make sure this is not shown in their work. The below photo is a great example. If you look directly in front you will see a person look like he is ‘out of phase’ from our reality. In addition, check out the busses in the background. In reality when this shot was taken there were 2 buses. Due to the massively bad ghosting in this photo I can see 5. Really bad ghosting can make a photo look like a garbled mess.
Camera In The Photo
One personal pet peeve I have when people take 360 photos is when they do not edit themselves out of the photo. As a professional you are there to showcase the location. By appearing in the photo or having your equipment appear, it takes away from the experience. Many 360 professionals will position the camera in the ideal spot to maximise the location. They will also position it to not appear in the photo. Finally, if they do appear in the photo they edit themselves out. They may use professional editing software such as Photoshop / Premier Pro. This is to edit themselves out and not be in the photo. As a result the below photo is an example of really bad positioning and no editing to fit it whatsoever.
Hire A Professional
Furthermore 360 imagery is literally a surround experience. Every angle must be taken into account when shooting 360 for your business. This is why you need a professional and not an amateur. The above example’s were shown to showcase examples of publicly listed works on google street view that are quite common. If you are getting some 360 work done take a look at their portfolio. Know what you are paying for. Contact us today by filling out the contact form on this page or give us a call.
What are your thought of this list? Is there anything I should mention in this amateur 360 photography quality? Have you had any 360 photo / video done for your business and noticed things after they were published? Join the discussion and let us know in the comments below.