Monday, 16 May 2011

360 Photography by

As a photographer I need to keep up with advancing techniques and technology. In todays world it is no longer sufficient to do what you are good at and forget about learning new skills. Anyone who thinks like that will never reach their full potential or be as successful as perhaps they would like.

With new updates in photoshop namely CS5 and with the market requirements ever changing, its time for an update in workflow and technique in 360 photography.

My first 360 photography guide can be found here :

CS5 has made life so much easier, you are no longer required to spend an age with layers and timings, it is much more straight forward.

Also with any niche market you will find that you will have to refine your technique to match your clients requirements. In this blog I will update you on new techniques.

How to Technique

Mainly recap and refinement here, firstly on the lazy-Susan rotating tray. 

Step 1. You need to divide the rotating tray in to 16 sections for a good smooth rotating image. To do this firstly measure around the circumference of the tray as in the picture below:

Step 2. Divide the measurement you get by 16. For example if the circumference of your rotating tray in 80cm, 80cm /16 = 5cm. You need to place a mark ever 5cm accurately around the tray with a marker. You will get 16 marks in total.

Step 3. Mark the lower part of the tray too ensuring that each mark lines up as you go. You will end up with something like this : 

Step 4. Once you have your tray marked it is a good idea to number the upper and lower lines you have just marked on the rotating tray. The reason for this will become obvious when you start using the tray often. When under pressure from a client to create 360 images accurately and quickly there is always the tendency to rush. If you don't notice that one shot in 16 that is out of focus or your flash didn't fire, having each image numbered on the turntable allows you to simply rotate the tray back to the corresponding number in your photo and re-shoot it. Otherwise with 16 images and no reference point things can get confusing! Big tip here...always review each image in the batch before removing the item from the rotating tray!

So now you have something that looks like this :

Step 5. Almost ready to start shooting 360 images! What you need to do first it tack on a good non reflective piece of material or card to your rotating tray. I usually opt for thick matt card. What colour you use really depends on the product you are shooting. I would start with white as most images are easier to maniplulate with a clean white base and backdrop. Once you have your card draw round your rotating tray using it as a template and carefully cut out the circle with a modelling knife. 

Step 6. Finding the centre of a circle is not the easiest of things to do. There are many different methods out there to be found. the best of which is this style

Once you have found the centre of your circle place the card using double sided tape or blue tack  on to the rotating tray. You are now ready to shoot your first 360 image. 

A suggestion for any item that needs to be shot upright but wont stand up by itself is to use perspex stands as in the image below :

You will need to shoot 8 images of the product's front side then turn the product over to shoot 8 images of the product's rear side. This can then be merged and manipulated in to one image in photoshop. 

On to the Editing
Once you have the 16 images you will need to edit them, you can do this as a batch if you shot in raw format or individually. If you are cutting them out for a pure white background take you time and get them matched as closely as possible.

The 360 merge
 Luckily with the introduction of Photoshop CS5 the merging of multiple images in to a rotation 360 .gif is very easy. Bare in mind that dependant on the output format you may need to reduce the file sizes of your images. 16 x 1MB images will initially be a single 16MB file that some systems may struggle to edit, save or operate.

Step 1. Firstly get all your images in to the same folder and in sequence by filename.

Step 2. Open Photoshop CS5.

Step 3. Go to File >Open > and navigate to the folder in which you save your images.

Step 4. Click on the first image only in the folder then check the image sequence box as below:

Step 5. Click open.

Step 6. You will be asked what frame rate you want the image set to. For 16 frames 10fps is fast, 6fps medium and 3fps slow.

Step 7. The images should now be open in sequence. You may need to go to Window > Animation view the animation view.

Step 8. Providing the images were labelled in sequence correctly all you should need to do now is save the images. Click save > save for web and devices.

Step 9. If your computer fails to save or advises that it cannot save due to insufficient memory such as the warning below then you will need to go back and reduce the file sizes even further. For website images 100kb or less work well :

Step 10. If the images go on to save correctly then a new window will pop up and you will need to specify the following settings:
  • Preset = Gif No Dither
  • Selective
  • Diffusion
  • Animation Looping Options : forever (this will make the image constantly spin)
Step 11. Click save and your done!
Thank you for reading, please do leave me comments and any questions you have and be sure to check out my 360 images and services at

Monday, 24 January 2011

360 Product Photography

As a photographer my preferred line of work is in the studio, taking shots of people and products. My aim is to always create images that need a minimal amount of post production. This not only saves me time but I feel it forces me to be a better photographer. If I take my time composing a shot with consideration to how it’s going to end up looking on my screen or in print then hopefully it will come out right with minimal post production work. It’s not easy to do this and far too often I hear people say 'ah that will do, I can photoshop it out'. True, with the right skill set on photoshop there is very little that is not possible these days. But does that make you a better photographer, no it makes you a better illustrator or image retoucher or essentially a lazy photographer!

If you can get an image spot on with minimal editing why would you not choose that path? Unless you are more of a photo retoucher and enjoy editing image after image why do it? Well an answer to this question may lye in the economic climate of todays world. Businesses are having to become very clever in their marketing strategies and to keep on to of the game they need something fresh and new. Good photographers are no different; constantly on the look out for new ideas, new challenges and finding a niche or edge over the competition.

So you’re a product photographer and your client is looking for something different or fresh for their website, why not offer 360 Product Photography?
How to... 
360 Product Photography is surprisingly easy to create, it is a little time consuming and you will most likely need to do some post production but it is worth it for the end result. As you see above you can create an almost seamless 360 image of any object and you really don't need any expensive specialist equipment.The above image was created with a Canon 50d, Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro lens and basic lighting.

The trick....the only vital piece of equipment you need is a rotating cake stand / tray. They can be purchased for very little and enable you (once marked) to take a high number of images through 360 degrees. There are kits available that are fully automated. By this I mean for $$$ you can purchase a kit comprising of an electronic rotating tray, all required hardware and software to do the job for you! All you have to do is set up your product on the tray point your SLR towards it, plug your SLR in to your PC and the software rotates the tray, takes the photos and even edits the photos for a pure white background! If you find yourself suddenly being requested for a high number of 360 images it may be worth investing.

If however you are just starting out in 360 imagery and rarely get requested for it then there is a slightly longer yet more cost effective solution.

Stage 1
  1. Buy a cheap white rotating cake tray.
  2. Buy some white card (your choice of satin or matt)
  3. Set up the card on the tray and either use card or a mini light box for your white background.
  4. Set your lighting.
  5. Take the required amount of images, remember the more images taken the more seamless the end result will be. 
I took a series of 16 individual images, this enabled me to get the image above once they were all merged.

Stage 2
  1. It may be worth playing around with Stage 2 with a small number of images first to get used to the process.Open up Photoshop.
  2. Click on 'Window' - 'Animation'.
  3. Open all the required images.
  4. Edit the images size, crop and white background to your requirements.
  5. Put them in order. Start with the first image in the series (the image you wish the animation to start with, for example the front of the product)
  6. You need to add all following images as a new layer to the first image.
  7. Unlock the first layer / image and make it invisible by clicking the little eye icon.
  8. To add a new image firstly click on new frame which is next to the bin icon on the bottom left.
  9. Drag and drop the second image in to the animation strip.
  10. Make the new layer visable by clicking the little eye icon.
  11. Click on image one in the animation strip and make that visible in the layer by clicking the little eye icon.
0 sec delay
0.2 delay

Once all images are in line highlight all frames and set the delay parameters, then set the first drop down to 'forever'. This will ensure the image constantly rotates. Also set the time delay between 0 and 0.2.
See examples left 0 sec delay and right 0.2 sec delay.

Thank you for reading, please take a look at my gallery and other blogs and don't hesitate to contact me.
My 360 website