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vibes35 Reviewer says

Just thought some may be interested in some of the specifics of shooting spherical panoramas and the equipment used.

Personally I own the Nodal Ninja 5 along with the R16 Rotator and easy LevellerII. This is a great setup that I have mounted to a very sturdy carbon fiber rocketfish tripod.

I used a standard 28mm lense on my Canon camera which requires a shot every 30 degrees. Now I know some may wonder why I just do not use a fish eye…well, a fish eye lens allows for far fewer shots (4-6) but you can get a much higher resolution file with more… For instance the latest HDRi’s I have uploaded to the marketplace for approval stitch together for a total image size of 20000×10000 pixels which I then can resize.

So basically my workflow involves the following in creating and HDRi ready for sale:

1- Shoot 12 bracketed images every 30 degrees at -2,0,+2 exposure at the horizon level 2- Shoot 12 bracketed images at a 42 degree angle up followed by a straight up bracketed shot 3- Shoot 12 bracketed images at 42 degrees down followed by a straight down shot

I then end up with 114 images of bracketed shots…. I should mention also that the best way to adjust exposure value is to use the camera in full manual mode and adjust the shutter speed only- this way you do not mess with the DOF by changing the aperature.

I then take all these bracketed images into PTGui for stitching… typically the program does a very well job but at times requires some manual stitching. I typically use Photoshop to remove the tripod footprint before stitching the nadir or straight down shots.

I then render the panoramic as a spherical map which works very well within 3D Studio Max and other 3d packages environment mapping.

Moving on I save an .hdr and .exr and load into Photomatix to check the dynamic range value and tonemap an image for use as the background of the scene playing with the contrast and color balance as needed.

The shots I have done with heavy clouds and mountains work very well to provide great lighting from the sun and reflections in my scenes.

I hope you have enjoyed this bit of insight and welcome others general workflow and ideas!

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Daniel_R says

Im a photographer fan also and your implementaion looks super cool!! Im not into panoramas…how much is the setup you have? I mean for the gear?

Thanks for sharing

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ChristineWilde Reviewer says

HDRi still confuses me! I can set a HDRi up in Cinema 4D and create nice renders but I still don’t have a clue as to where to start creating an actual HDRi skydome. I’ve seen many different variations such as HDRi skydomes and panoramics. Also some say to use a tripod and rotate the camera and other say to photograph a silver ball.

I think I may just have to stick to the modelling :)

Reading through your steps might help me to understand a tad more. I will give it a go when I can get to somewhere with some nice scenery.

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Matthias_ says

I just know the silver ball method.

Just photgraph a refelecting ball (no color) with diffrent exposures. Merge them together with HDRshop.

If you want to take an indeph look just go there: http://www.max-realms.com/modules/tutorials/guide_to_hdri_lighting.php

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ChristineWilde Reviewer says
I just know the silver ball method.

Just photgraph a refelecting ball (no color) with diffrent exposures. Merge them together with HDRshop.

If you want to take an indeph look just go there: http://www.max-realms.com/modules/tutorials/guide_to_hdri_lighting.php

Thanks for the link! I’ll have a read through of this tonight. Might pop down to my local garden centre this weekend to pick up a shiny ball too. :)

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Matthias_ says

make sure that there are no non-shiny areas! -Just my personal tip :P

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vibes35 Reviewer says

I know using a shiny ball definately has some advantages… I have heard though that one of the best ways to shoot using that method is with a decent zoom lense to eliminate reflection and minimize re-touching. WildMedia- I would say the best way to get started is to simply download a trial version of Photomatix and take the camera you have now and simply take 3 images to begin with at different exposure levels. Even better if your camera can do bracketed exposures… check the user manual… If not lock the aperature, ISO and take a few shots at different shutter speeds to space exposure at a -2,0,+2 level then use Photomatix to combine the 3 images.

ZonadeArte- I have spent roughly $800 on the tripod and pano setup + camera can get expensive for sure!

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MarkBrodhuber Staff says

From my knowledge (which is very minimal) the shiny ball method it not the correct way to do it. It seems to be more of a jerry rigged solution. With Vibes’ solution being the real way to do it. Although, like he mentioned, its supposed to be done with a Fisheye lens. But I guess your method of shooting more photos at a higher res produces the same result with better quality.

I think the whole reason for the fisheye is to get a 180 degree shot to cut down on the amount of shots that need to be taken.

On a side note, this is only stuff I’ve pieced together. Never actually found one solid resource on this. Vibes, your write up is actually the most comprehensive I’ve seen that doesn’t use the shiny ball.

You should write a tutorial on it! If you submit it to Tuts+ you’d get paid for the tutorial. And it could be a two part tutorial. The first half on PhotoTuts and the second half on CGTuts. Just a thought.

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ChristineWilde Reviewer says

That’s an awesome idea Mark! Do it Vibes! :p

I wasn’t too keen on the idea of the shiny ball because of the reflections of the camera and tripod. I’m going to follow Vibes suggestions this weekend and see what I achieve. Got some nice countryside and hills near to where I live. Also Hundred Acre Woods ( Winnie the Pooh ) is just down the road from me which would make some nice panoramics.

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Matthias_ says

You can Remove yourself from the Ball method, by making a 90° turn, and then merge them together in HDRshop. Just take a look at: http://www.max-realms.com/modules/tutorials/guide_to_hdri_lighting.php

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