Polar Panorama Effect: Create Your Own Planet

I don’t know about you, but ever since astronomers kicked Pluto out of the party, I’ve been feeling mighty lonely over here on the Earth, but wait!if you feel the same, I think I just found the solution with a tutorial that would show you how to turn any panorama or landscape photograph into a full-pledged planet!

Best of all, once you’ve selected an image to work with, the process takes only 5 minutes. (Launching your new planet into solar orbit may take a bit longer.)

There are special moments in the life of any photographer that suddenly change his view of his hobby (or profession). For me, those moments included:

  • Getting my first DSLR
  • Getting my first digital camera
  • Discovering a software that could stitch together photos into a seamless panorama
  • Discovering the rather simple instructions to create my own planet

To make a long story short: The “Polar Panorama Effect” is one of my favorite ways to process photos into unique pieces of art. It takes a panoramic (or landscape) photo and uses the Polar Coordinates filter of Photoshop CS or The Gimp to create a circular image that seems to wrap the panorama around a planet.

Lets get started:

When selecting a photo to start with you should keep the following things in mind:

  • Panoramas or landscapes cropped to have an aspect ratio at least 2:1 (the width should be at least two times the height) work best. Wider photos are better.
  • The bottom area (bottom 25% or so) of your photo should have very little detail (e.g. sand, asphalt, water). This area will become the center of your planet and will be distorted the most.
  • The upper area (upper 25%) of your photo should also be light on detail– preferably just one color (e.g. blue sky, night sky etc.)
  • The left and the right edges of your photo should match, or come close to matching, each other. (Always the case for a stitched 360 degree panorama.)
  • The horizon must be exactly horizontal. Since the left and right edges of your photo will be joined, if they are at different heights your planet will have a big crack in the surface. (Again, a non-issue for a properly executed 360 degree panorama.)

To start off, I would be using this panorama picture of a city I just found on the net

Step 1: Size and Rotate:

The first thing we need to do is prepare the image for the Polar filter. We do this by stretching the height of the image so that the image is a perfect square.

Select Image>Image Size from the menus. Uncheck ‘Constrain Proporties’ and set the “height” to the same value as your “width”. Next, rotate the image 180 degrees. (Image>Rotate Canvas>180)

You should end up with something like the image below.

 

 

Step 2: Apply the Polar Filter

Next, we’ll apply the Polar Filter to wrap our image into a sphere.

Choose Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates from the menus and in the resulting dialog box, select the “Rectangular to Polar” setting.

(If you’re using The Gimp the command is Filters > Distorts > Polar Coords.)

As you can see we’re 90% of the way there

 

 

Step 3: Rotate and Clean Up

The rest is just digital darkroom work: Rotate the planet to your liking, adjust the contrast and colors, clean up the sky and the edges where the ends meet. The clone stamp and healing brush may be handy here. That’s it! We’re done!

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About aybanlim


One response to “Polar Panorama Effect: Create Your Own Planet

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