As many explore panoramic photography, they off stop short (at least of making a full 360˚ arc). The truth is that its gotten much easier to make a fully actualized 360˚ image.  If enough photos are taken, then a large panoramic image can be made.  These photos can then be turned into an interactive panoramic for the web or multimedia.

Here’s an example — http://pan0.net/upano.php?id=5004

Merging Photos

Let’s explore piecing together a full 360˚ VR photo.  In this particular case, I have 24 exposures to capture the entire environment.  Adobe Photoshop makes the combining of multiple shots easy using the Automation command called Photomerge:

  1. Choose File > Automate > Photomerge. Photomerge is a specialized “mini- application” within Photoshop that assists in combining multiple images into a single photo.
  2. Click the Browse button and navigate to your images.
  3. Press Cmd+A (Ctrl+A) to select all the pictures in the folder and click Open.
  4. There are several Layout options available that attempt to fix problems caused by panoramic photography (such as distortion).  A good place to start is Auto, which attempts to align the images but will bend them as needed.
    360pano1
  5. Select the check boxes next to Blend Images Together and Vignette Removal.  These two options will attempt to blend the edges of the photos together and can hide subtle differences in exposure.
  6. Click OK to build the panoramic image. Photoshop attempts to assemble the panorama based on your choices in the dialog box. Due to the number of images, the process may take a few minutes.
    360pano2

With these images, you’ll notice that the tree trunk appears on both the left and right edges.  This image needs a little additional processing to create a completely seamless 360˚ photo.

Creating a Seamless Loop with a Photoshop Action

When you first merge your 360˚ photos, the resulting image is quite large, but not a perfect loop.  While the image can be seamless, the left and right edges have not been properly cropped to use the image as a circular loop.  To fix this process would normally take several (tedious) steps.  To solve this problem, we’ve created an action that will finish processing the full 360˚ panoramic image.

Get the 360˚ Photoshop Action Here

  1. Choose Window > Actions to call up the Actions panel.
  2. Click the submenu of the Actions panel and choose Load Actions. A new browser window opens.
    360pano3
  3. Navigate to the action you downloaded and unzipped.
  4. Select the action Panoramic.atn and click Load.
  5. In the Actions panel, locate the Panoramics set (folder) and choose the Seamless Loop action.
    360pano4
  6. Click the Play selection button in the Actions panel.
  7. The image is now seamless on the left and right edges.  A new dialog box invites you to crop the image as needed.
  8. Click Continue. The image may need a little bit cropped from its top or bottom to remove gaps (cause by not being level).
  9. Choose Image > Canvas Size.
  10. Enter a new height to trim away unwanted pixels.  Be certain to only crop from top and bottom (and not the sides) or the 360˚ image will be broken.
    360pano5
  11. Click OK. A dialog warns you that some clipping will occur. Click Proceed.
  12. Choose Layer > Flatten Image to discard any layers.
  13. Choose File > Save As to name the file and store it on your drive.

The image is now ready for printing, or authoring in a myriad of 360˚ applications such as Pano2VR.

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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