Family playing in the back yard

I’ve had this idea kicking around awhile of a cool 360° panoramic photo of the kids playing on the swing set in the back yard. The weather hasn’t been very cooperative the past week, but it stopped raining yesterday after sunset and the clouds started to break up a little so it wasn’t a boring, white sky.

I put the 14-24mm ultrawide lens and camera on the panning head in portrait mode and shot 6 photos for every hemisphere at 14mm, one photo every 60° tilted 40° up and 40° down, 12 photos in all. That covered the entire sphere with enough overlap to stitch nicely. Then I had the kids individually get into different photos (without moving the tripod) to mask over the entire scene I’d already captured, so I took four more shots of them doing various things at different angles. The light was fading fast and the last photos were already nearly two stops darker than the rest, and unfortunately I forgot to include myself in the family photo in the rush! Lastly I tilted the camera down and held it in relative position while I removed the tripod and took the “nadir” shot at the bottom of the sphere.

I adjusted the photos a bit in Lightroom, creating some HDR images from single RAW files because the grass and lower half of the images were too dark or the sky was too washed out. Fusing several exposures captured the entire dynamic range. I had already shot at ISO 1600 to get a fast enough shutter speed to stop action and a small enough aperture for more depth of field, so the HDR process introduced a bit more noise on top of that–especially on the last four images of the kids where the light was fading fast and the images were already underexposed. As a final step I stitched it all together with PTGui, masking out the tripod and duplicate swings, and masking in the kids. Click the image below to see the result!

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