Ryan Burnside recently set out to find a cheap way to shoot 360-degree panoramas of scenes, and discovered that shooting a Christmas ornament (or any other spherical reflection) captures all the information needed — all that’s needed is a way to “unravel” the spherical image. Burnside found that the free image editor GIMP can do the trick.
Here are the steps:
- Shot a top-down photograph of a Christmas ornament (perhaps using a tripod).
- Crop the image into a neat square that bounds the ornament
- Run Filters->Distorts->Polar Coordinates and uncheck “To Polar”
- Scale the width by 314% (PI times the height)
Voila! A cheap and easy way to shoot a 360 panorama!