360 Night Panoramas: A Full Moon Virtual Tour of Eagle Field

Eleven interactive 360 panoramas are included in the full moon virtual tour of Eagle Field. The airplane 360 above was particularly challenging to shoot and stitch due to the wide dynamic range and oppressive orange sodium vapor lighting.

360 Night Panorama Gear and Technique

All of the panos were shot with a Canon EOS 6D and an 8-15mm fisheye lens. I used a Really Right Stuff PG-02 panohead on a Nodal Ninja rotator and leveling base. The files were processed in Lightroom and stitched using PTGui Pro. The interactive panos and tour were created using krpano.

Most of the exterior shots were 90 seconds at f/8, ISO 800. The exteriors are 4-shots-around at 12mm with a 5th shot to patch the ground (nadir). The interior of the hangar was 6-around at 15mm plus a zenith (up) and nadir (down). Shooting 6-around provides more resolution, but 4-around was easier outside due to the fast moving clouds.

Even with the short exposures, blending the clouds between shots was sometimes difficult. In some cases, the Enblend plugin for PTGui did a better job with the clouds. Enblend didn't stitch the foreground well, and the stars weren't as sharp. So I output a second version with the standard PTGui blender, and combined the two files in Photoshop.

Blending bracketed exposures with a natural look

The shot of the plane outside the hangar required a lot of dynamic range, and includes 5 bracketed images at each camera position. The interior shots of the hangar and radio room also required HDR exposure techniques.

Photomatix was used to combine the bracketed exposures. I've been impressed with the natural looking blending options in this software.

Reducing the orange glow of Sodium Vapor lights

The orange sodium vapor lighting was really intense in the exterior shot of the airplane. Placing the white balance eye-dropper on the silver airplane or gray sidewalk gives a color temperature reading of 2000K. This makes the sky a deep intense cyan that just looks wrong. A color balance of 3250K looks much better for the sky.

If you pick a white balance in the middle and then reduce the yellow and orange saturation during raw conversion, the image can look pretty fake and lifeless. In this case, a split conversion was necessary -- one for the foreground, and one for the sky.

I used a blended version of all 5 exposures at 2000K for the foreground. Next I did a 3250K version of the 30 second exposure of the sky, because it had the best exposure and cloud movement. The images were combined with layer masks in Photoshop before stitching.

Enjoy the tour, and I hope these technical tips are helpful!