Aerial 360 Sphere Panorama – How we captured Inverclyde from the Lyle Hill

We’ve had such an amazing response to our latest Aerial 360 which was taken above Inverclyde, so we thought we would share how we captured the view.

Step One: Weather

First of all one of the biggest variables you need to understand is the weather, not just if the environmental conditions will be favorable for flight, but also how it affects the aesthetic quality of the shot composition.

So how do we do that? Well, first we check a range of weather apps, mainly AccuWeather and Apple Weather to see if a flight is going to be possible (check for high wind and dense rain).

Step Two: Operational Planning

If all looks good (and on this day it did!) then we need to move to planning our operation – Where do we want to fly from that is A: Safe, B: Respects all CAA Regulations, C: Provides the best angle for the shot we want to capture.

After some quick research on Google Maps and Google Earth, we found that the Greenock Golf Course at the Lyle Hill would be our best position, it’s easily accessible from some steps at the top of the hill which makes life easy when transporting all the equipment, provides a breathtaking view and allows us to take off and land 30-50m away from anything not under our control (roads, persons, property).

  1. Identify operational position.
  2. Identify and address any risks.
  3. Identify which equipment required.

We gave Greenock Golf Course a call to ask if they would allow us to take off and land from their grounds, which they were very accommodating of, so the next thing was to work out where the safe boundary would be to take off and land – which is explained in the below image.

Flight Plan

On the ground we had the pilot set up on the golf course and then a secondary team member along the road monitoring traffic and relaying information to the pilot. At the time of day there was very little moving traffic along the road so there was no delay in getting up in the air.

Step Three: Composing the Shot

Our next step was to work out exactly what time the view was going to look its best. To do this we use an app called The Photographers Ephemeris – This is an app that allows you to input some data on where you are positioned with the camera and what you are looking at, from this it will tell you where the sun will be, whether or not it will be obstructed by the topography of the land, and even how impressive the clouds will look during sunset.

From this information, we knew there was a nice amount of clouds relatively high up which would become set on fire as the sun goes down and exactly what time and location.

Step Four: Taking the Photos

So this is relatively easy, we used the Litchi app for flight – this simply automates the process. We set Litchi to take 16 photos in a circle and at four angles (from the sky down) so we end up with 64 photos. We also tell Litchi to take 4 photos of the ground at North – West, known as Nadir’s.

In addition to the 68 photos we set the camera to take 5 RAW images of each position at -2 to +2 EV, so 5 photos of varying exposure for each shot. This allows us to merge all 5 into an HDR to get the best exposure possible across all areas and capture all the colours and textures that you see, so in reality, this is 340 photos in total.

Step Five: Stitching Together

The last step is to take these 68 HDR images and import them to software which allows them to be stitched together, for this we use the Microsoft Image Compositor. Load the images and in a few seconds (CPU speed depending) you have a completed 360 Panorama!


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