WE­B­CAM APPS

Around the world in one easy click

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

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.

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