Around the world in one easy click
IT’S not likely that you’ll have the $ 500,000 to spare and the time to wait a few years to visit Mars yourself, but thanks to the increasingly accessible 360- degree webcam apps online, you can gaze over those dreamy, dusty red mountains in the meantime.
The NASA Curiosity rover has touched down on the red planet and for now, you can at least get a little more immersed in the experience.
The immersive experience of 360- degree cameras are created by high- res colour photos stitched together in a surroundsight landscape that you can navigate from your computer.
The Mars panorama allows you to rotate and zoom a virtual camera mounted on top of the Curiosity rover, also known as the Mars Science Laboratory. You can even pan the camera down and get an up- close look at the $ 2.5 billion off- road vehicle and the Martian surface, but Mars isn’t the only place you can explore by proxy.
360Cities is a website devoted to collecting stunning, georeferenced panoramic photos, created by thousands of panorama photographers around the world.
Explore the majesty of Fitz Roy Valley in Argentina, the ancient ruins of Tonto National Monument in Arizona, and sunrise from the summit of Teewinot Mountain in the Rockies.
Explore the Mutianyu Great Wall in China, browse an antique store in Damascus, Syria, poke around underwater shipwrecks, take a hot air balloon ride over Paris, and marvel at geological wonders. All online.
It’s not necessarily new technology. Panoramic photography has existed for more than a century and you can find 360 degree photos from 100 years ago as well.
But right now we’re seeing a boom in this kind of visualisation technology, due to the increased availability of publishing tools and apps that make stitching your pictures together as easy as hitting ‘‘ upload’’.
There’s an amazing world out there and photographers are making it possible for you to experience it, full- screen, in detail.
HOW TO CREATE A 360 PANORAMA
1. Choose a place for which you want to create a panorama photo. 2. Hold your camera straight in front of you in ‘‘ portrait’’ orientation ( so that it takes vertical photos, not horizontal photos). It doesn’t matter what camera you use. You can even use a phone camera if that’s all you have, but make sure the photos overlap. A fisheye lens is best if you have one ( you will have to take fewer photos). 3. If you keep your camera over the same point, your panorama will turn out better. Use a tripod, or if you don’t have one, attach a piece of string to your camera with a rock or coin tied to the bottom. Mark a place on the ground for the rock to touch and ensure that it is in the same place with every photo that you take, as you turn around in a circle. 4. Take photos around you ( make sure they overlap 30 to 50 per cent) until you cover the whole intended field of view with photos. If you want, make another row above or below the first one. 5. Stitch your photos together with an online tool like Panomonkey.com ( fully automated online panorama stitcher, freemium use), or Hugin. sourceforge.net ( also free, a little more complicated to use). 6. Upload to your website, blog, or a hosting site such as 360cities. net and share the world around you with the world at large.