Sunday, July 19, 2015

The 360 Degree Spherical Panoramas

I recently did a trek in the Himalayas (Pahalgham, Kashmir). While trekking, and clicking away with my newly purchased phone (A Samsung Galaxy Edge), I discovered that it had a feature called 360 Spherical Panorama (or photo-spheres).

I started experimenting with this mode and was really amazed at how easy Google had made it to create an immersive 360 degree view. More importantly, these panos could be easily uploaded to Google maps, and then viewed via Google Views. This link explains the process of creating and sharing these photo-spheres.

I was thrilled, and created a number of these photo-spheres during the trek. Upon returning back to civilization, I realized I had made one mistake. I had switched off the GPS during the trek to conserve battery, which meant that my photo-spheres did not have the geo-coordinates embedded, and Google Maps gives an error, if you try to upload a photo-sphere without the geo-coordinates.

After much trial-and-error, I downloaded an app called "GeoTag" (a free Android app), that allows you to embed the geo-tags manually. After downloading the app, and updating the geo-coordinates, I could finally upload my photo-spheres to Google Map.

Below are some of the photo-spheres that I captured. To view the 360 sphere, just click on the image, and move the mouse up, down, left or right.

1. Royal Sar Lake (This is a small lake). Locals believe that you should not put your hands in the water, and we were forbidden to enter the water. We could, however, go a little further where the water was flowing, and enter the water there.

2. Dudhsar Lake. A beautiful lake that is nestled on top of the Kolahai mountain. The name Dudhsar comes from the fact that the water from this lake drops straight down into the valley and appears like milk (Dudh).

3. Near Tarsar Lake: This was actually the first time I discovered the photo-sphere feature on my phone, and this was my very first photo-sphere. It was taken about 2 kilometers from Tarsar lake. I was completely mesmerized by the scene of blue skies, while clouds and the majestic mountains.

4. Tarsar Lake: The lake was half-frozen when we visited it at the end of June, and it looked amazing. The photo-sphere has stitching errors due to subjects moving while the panorama is being taken. Photo-spheres are ideally to be taken of static subjects.

5. Near Royal Sar Lake: I took this photo-sphere while trekking to our camp at Royal Sar Lake. We had to navigate this slippery patch covered in snow. Shooting this photo-sphere was a bit tricky, as I had to make sure I don't slip and fall in the icy water.

6. Royal Lake: This is the same view as #1, except it was taken during noon time.

7. Base of Kalohai Peak: We set up camp at the bottom of Kalohai peak. It's easier to climb from here to view the glacier and the Dudhsar lake (which is a one-day trek from the base camp).

8. Kremsar Lake: I am not too sure about the exact spelling of this lake. That is what the guide told us. It is part of the Royal Sar Lake. The water first collects here (it was half-frozen like Tarsar lake when we visited), and then then water flows down to Royal Sar Lake, before eventually flowing into the Lidder river.

That's it. I hope you enjoy this new way of looking at places.


skattoju said...

Looks awesome! Question: How do you keep your gadgets charged when you are out and about in the wilderness ?

Cajie said...

@Skattoju. I used powerbanks.
I had 3 powerbanks. Each powerbank had a rating of 20,000 mAH. This allowed me to easily charge 4 phones and a GoPro for about 1 week.
My main camera (D800) had its own set of batteries, as they cannot be charged via USB. The spare batteries also last me for around 1 week.