Saturday, October 24, 2015

Photosphere is now native on Google Street View App

That's right folks. You can not shoot and upload photospheres (bubble photos) from within the Google Street view ap which you can download from the Playstore right now.

As some of you would have seen the Google Street View car going about capturing the main roads of cities and towns all over the world, there are still many places which are not included in streetview as these places were either too narrow for cars to pass through and remote for the Google car to traverse.

So Streetview took on a whole new meaning when Google photographers were asked to carry a cumbersome backpack with GPS and high resolution photosphere camera to map these paths. This backpack carousel would go where no car has gone and only those with brave hearts need to apply.

Later, Google started to authorize Google Business Photographers to photography bubbles of the interior of buildings (as requested by building owners) as a means to promote their shopfront from the outside to the inside.

To be a certified Google Business Photographer, you need to qualify for one. The details are available on this link.

Since the launch of the Streetview app to allow you to take your own photos, many of you have submitted weird and psychedelic spheres, I suppose it wasn't as easy as you might have thought when shooting bubble photos.  Standing still and capturing patches off a bubble isn't easy. Each patch of these photos are then stitched together within the Google Camera app.

To qualify for a Google Business Photographer badge, you need the right equipment and currently, the Ricoh Theta S isn't on that list. Instead you find a Iris360 camera which cost US$2K which will be made available by the time you read this.

Not having a camera of choice does not mean you can't shoot those bubble photos with your mobile device, you can still submit those bubble photos for publishing but you won't be awarded a Google Business Photographer badge or have any sort of business referred to you.

User generated bubbles look pretty bad if you ever had the time to research some of the sites. The capture itself is fraught with legal problems if people's faces are visible.

Google Business Photographers are not allowed to use a mobile device to capture photos for paying clients who list their interiors in Google Streetview. This has been made clear and the only non DSLR allowed on the list of equipment you should have is the Iris360. Even the Ricoh Theta S is not listed as an approved camera equipment for Google Business Photographers.

Even though Google Business Photographers have classified themselves as  Google Street View Photographers, the terms itself is a misnomer since business photographers only capture interiors of shops and restaurants as opposed to just a street view of the desired location. You can take a virtual walk through of the shop from your street view app and decide if you want to make that effort to visit the place. It is a great marketing tool but unfortunately for now, it's not open to mobile photographers.

The chief problem here is really about interior lighting and how mobile cameras are unable to adjust the exposure to match that of each patch of image.

Over a decade ago, I shot using an IPIX system, which creates the same bubble effect but it could only  be viewed with a desktop PC plug in. Getting the two halves of a bubble picture to blend into each other is a lot hard than you think and I cannot imagine how a mobile camera would be able cope with interior lighting.


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