If panoramic photography responds to the desire to overcome traditional image formats in order to capture a large scene in its entirety, the assembly of several shots offers many other creative possibilities. After having approached the panograph during a previous photo exercise, we are now looking at the creation of an effect little planet, also called circular panorama ou polar outlook.
The little planet effect consists of a 360° panoramic photograph assembled in such a way as to produce an image similar to a stereographic projection, ie a representation of a sphere on a single plane. This effect can be achieved using a series of images captured with a conventional camera but has been popularized in particular by applications for smartphones and 360° cameras which offer a higher degree of automation.
Photo : Steven Brace.
If any panoramic can in theory lend itself to the little planet effect by means of an adequate assembly, some prerequisites are necessary to obtain the expected aesthetics. The series of photos at the base of the panorama must therefore be captured over 360° and with a perfectly straight horizon line in order to facilitate assembly. Also with this in mind, the top and bottom portions of your photos should feature simple textures, such as a clear sky and relatively even ground (lawn, body of water, etc.).
As for any type of panorama, the shooting phase must be thought out according to a future assembly of the different images obtained. We therefore advise you to use a tripod, an accessory that will allow you to rotate your camera on a horizontal axis while keeping more or less the same position. To obtain the best possible connections between each image, the most demanding photographers can purchase a panoramic head — allowing them to find the ideal point of rotation.
Always with the aim of facilitating assembly, panoramic photography requires using your camera in manual mode: exposure, white balance, focal length and focus must be strictly identical from one image to another. Also remember that each captured image should contain a strip of elements common to the previous photo and the next photo. This overlap zone will subsequently allow the assembly software to link the images together.
Photo : Nestor Ferraro.
To group the captured photos into a single image, the use of software allowing the creation of panoramas is of course essential. If one of our tutorials discusses the procedure to follow with Hugin, know that it is possible to perform this type of operation with Lightroom or Photoshop. Once your panoramic image has been obtained, you will also have to open it in Photoshop in order to transform it into a circular panorama.
The various tasks to be carried out are then relatively simple: it is necessary to modify the size of the image so that it adopts the square format — without worrying about the apparent deformations —, then to perform a 180° rotation so as to reverse the direction of the image. To obtain the desired effect, all you have to do is apply the "Polar coordinates" filter found in the "Distortion" tab to your creation. The finalization of the image using local retouching tools must then be done according to the quality of the initial assembly and your degree of requirement.
Photo: Charith Gunarathna.
Note that it is not only possible to vary the aesthetics of a circular panorama thanks to the type of subject photographed but also by carrying out various experiments during the assembly and retouching phase. The use of an image that has not been rotated 180° will, for example, give rise to an inverted little planet effect — the sky then being in the center of the photo.
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