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Photo sphere

Started: 2019-04-06 16:05:45

Submitted: 2019-04-06 17:49:31

Visibility: World-readable

A couple of years ago I bought a small handheld camera capable of taking an entire 360° view, an LG G5 Friends 360 CAM LG-R105 . It takes a complete spherical picture by having two fisheye lenses on the camera, opposite each other, and stitching the images together in software. It stores these images in a rectangular jpeg stretched using an equirectangular projection to represent the entire sphere on a flat digital representation. Looking at the whole image is a bit disorienting; it's really meant to be viewed using a tool that allows panning (and, ideally, zooming) around the image to get an idea of what the space is supposed to feel like if one were there in person.

I've had this camera for more than two years, but I lacked a good protocol for dealing with the images it took. Google Photos has a good interface for viewing the images, so sometimes I'd post links there; but Google Photos makes it difficult to share deep links to single images, and did not integrate well with my existing (homegrown) blogging platform.

This week I finally got around to fixing that: I integrated Google's VR View; so now, if you click on the photo sphere images embedded in this blog post, you can view the images in their full spherical glory. (You can see the photo sphere icon in the bottom-right corner of the image, giving you a clue that you should click on it to view the image in greater detail.)

At this exact moment I've only integrated this into the desktop version of the site. VR View is supposed to have a neat mobile browser integration, and I can officially promise that's Coming Soon.

Here are some of the highlights from my collection, some never seen before. Let's start with the center of Pancras Square, from my visit to the Google office in London in April last year. This is a new infill brownsite redevelopment across the street from both Kings Cross Station and St. Pancras Station (and next to the Google Landscraper, which was still under construction concealed behind the construction hoarding when I visited).

Jaeger in Pancras Square
Jaeger in Pancras Square

Most of the photos, you will see, were taken by holding the camera at arm's length in a weird kind of selfie. If you open the image and pan down to the bottom of the image you can see my hand gripping the camera itself -- but the camera clumsily edits itself out of the picture so my hand is gripping thin air.

From the same trip, here's my cozy hotel room at the Great Northern Hotel, perched right in front of Kings Cross Station. For this shot, I set the camera on a small tripod and retreated around the corner to trigger the shot remotely with the camera's app on my phone.

Cozy room at the Great Northern Hotel
Cozy room at the Great Northern Hotel

And finally, a slot canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park last month:

Jaeger in the slot canyon above Palm Tree Wash
Jaeger in the slot canyon above Palm Tree Wash