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360 Photography: No Turning Back

Photography has come a long way. Only a century ago, Daguerre, through copper sheets and iodine vapors, introduced the method that would eventually give birth to modern photography. Fast forward to 2016 and capturing images is no longer limited to royalty and the aristocracy - or for taking images of dead relatives. Perhaps, much to the chagrin of professional photographers, anyone with a mobile phone or a digital camera can point, shoot, post on social media, and go on with their routine.

Now, here comes another innovation. Facebook recently launched a new way of presenting images. Through its 360 photo app, users can now post photos and let other users explore the images in full 360 degrees.

Like almost anything on social media, the concept may appear to be temporary and with no real benefit, except maybe for boasting about that vacation in Tibet. However, panoramic photography is not a modern day concept. The moment Daguerre came up with his clever method, scientists and inventors have been thinking of ways to produce panoramic images. Simply because words and drawings have limitations, those folks quickly realized that the accuracy offered by panoramic photography greatly benefits science and the arts.

Where perspective is important, panoramic photography plays a vital role. Both architecture and engineering students and professionals, for example, can take a panoramic shot of a site (or structure) and evaluate details or how the said structure relates to its surrounding areas. In archaeology, capturing an archaeological site in 360°, offers a precise recording of where artefacts were found and places it in a larger context. Then there’s forensic science – a panoramic overview of a crime scene creates a 3D environment and can corroborate clues. Businesses can also use 360° photos as a marketing tool and offer a virtual tour of their shops.

So is 360° photography a fad? Sure, it can be used to raise one’s social media status but given its benefits to different fields – there’s no turning back now.

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