Take a look around; Seattle in 360

Picture: 360-degree view of downtown Seattle from the top of the Seattle Space Needle, Seattle, Washington State.

Image: view of downtown Seattle from the top of the Seattle Space Needle, Seattle, Washington State

Perhaps you’ve occasionally seen a 360-degree panoramic image on the Internet where you can virtually spin around in all directions. They’ve become hugely popular with hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. What you may not know is that these images can often be stitched together using as few as 4-6 images.

I just recently returned from a week’s travels to the Pacific Northwest. Before plunging into a week of non-stop (typical) gray skies and rain, we were treated to two spectacular days in Seattle, with crystal clear blue skies and their warmest temperatures of the year-to-date. (A fact that was incessantly repeated on the local news, so it must’a been a big deal for them.) I used this great weather window to my advantage by planning a specific shot from atop the landmark Seattle Space Needle, namely a 360 degree view as if you walked around the entire observation deck.

To create this image required shooting 61 vertical frames, shot over a period of nearly 20 minutes in order to make a full circle around the building, and of course weaving in and out of all the other tourists and visitors. In this case, like several other of my Panoramic Photos, I’ll sometimes create a full-sized draft version to isolate any mistakes. In this case, I forgot to check the “remove vignetting” option, so you can see some light banding issues in the sky. Once I’ve had a chance to work out other issues like blending areas of the water, I’ll make a second, and hopefully final render that I will prepare as a master file.

The image was shot using my Nikon D7000, and the original file is 18″ x 174″ @ 300 dpi. Between layers and making some transform actions, the file again pushed my machine to the functional max of 65.1 Gb before getting flattened and saved. I chose not to use my D800, as I can only imagine those large files would have broken my poor machine, creating the electronic version of a brain embolism.

Click here to see a large 400×3700 pixel version.

Click here to see a sample of my first try at making a 360-VR image, so I downloaded a software trial. That’s why you’ll see trial watermarks as you spin around in a full circle. Also, there’s a special process to make a seamless blend in the 360 view, but since this is a first time experiment for me, and I just got back in town, I haven’t had the time to do that part yet.

Below is a sample shot of the city taken from the full res pano, and a 100% detail shot.

Image: view of downtown Seattle from the top of the Seattle Space Needle, Seattle, Washington State

Image: view of downtown Seattle from the top of the Seattle Space Needle, Seattle, Washington State

Image ID#: Space Needle Pano

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3 Comments on “Take a look around; Seattle in 360”

  1. Peter West Carey Says:

    Lovely shot of Seattle!

    Just some tips if you want to do more. Consider PanoTour Pro from Kolor to create Shockwave files from image (you can make tours and some other stuff as well). That will spit out a .swf file.
    Then use the “swfObject Reloaded” & “PanoPress” plugins for WordPress to be able to present the panos on your site. You still need to manually upload the image to your site, but then a simple bit of code on the post and you can embed panos in posts like this: thecareyadven...exploration/

    That was embedded with just this line of code “[pano file=”http://thecareyadventures.com/pano/SanFran-BernalHill.swf” w=”900″ h=”500″]”

    Let me know if you want to know more. I’m not selling anything, just remembering the frustration I had with presenting panos on a blog.


  2. Greg Russell Says:

    Beautiful image, Gary. I can imagine what this did to your poor machine, but the result was well worth it. I would imagine that even over the course of 20 minutes light changed enough such that blending could become an issue. I know for me shooting even a 4 or 5 image panoramic at sunset when the light is changing rapidly can become an issue.

    This is an impressive effort, and I’m sure once you get the bugs worked out it will be a spectacular print.

  3. Floris Says:

    Cool! Yea those were some beautiful days.. I was drinking margaritas in the snow with a view of Mt Rainier from the Mt Tahoma hut system that weekend. It’s back to cold, gray, and freezing now. Can’t wait for summer!

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