360 versus Snap Photography?

Since before any VR headset came my way (from the Samsung GEAR VR to the official Google Cardboard ‘viewer‘), photography was something I realised might be changed heavily by VR, but not as much as games and computer-created environments.

I didn’t appreciate that ordinary photographic panoramas could be so easily ‘souped-up’ by these apps and headsets to become cool immersive ‘360 content’.


A new choice: Just tap here…


Time to fire up the Cardboard Camera app?

Yes I’m talking about simply tapping this app, turning 360 degrees slowly and taking a basic photo-panorama that is automatically stitched together. And then…..especially in the GEAR VR, I’m already ‘changed’ – pop-eyed, even – by the viewing of such photos inside a headset, and find myself ‘experiencing’ photography and 360 video like never before.

Ok… so I’m catching up. It’s true that when you actually bother to catch up with new technology, you can find it has really zipped on ahead.

However, as with much VR photo and movie content – at this present time – there’s a big variation in quality, the influential factors being resolution and capture equipment. There’s still a long way to go with headsets too, but I’d suggest that maybe it’s ‘arrived’. VR and 360 is here… It could be time to pick up the Oculus Go and these more convenient, upcoming ‘stand-alones’.

But watch out for the ‘4K’ Mark

In terms of content, where you see the 4K + mark, this means the quality will be great, as opposed to some really poor 360 sports video cameras out there, that are clearly being used by the masses on Youtube 360, and actually damaging the growth of VR.

Don’t forget your bandwidth issues too, while streaming on, say Youtube, may also cause blurring. Then there’s your mobile phone resolution to factor in.

Anyway, the implications for normal video and photography seem… interesting – to say the least. I actually decided to create a special album inside my Google Photos just for my panoramas taken only via this Cardboard app thing. I don’t need to because when I shove on my headset – with phone mounted – they are already on the phone, and the headset /  app will detect their file-type and display them easily.

In quicker terms, they’re all very accessible and astonishing when viewed in a headset. And thus to thinking… just how far is photography set to change with this?

Not much overnight. Not until we’re all able to whip out devices with at least 180 degree snapping features. This ‘power of capture’ (such as this recently-announced item, or the Samsung Gear 360) will only get better and better. What do you do when you’ve created your photos or footage? Websites such as InstaVR allow you to put together and publish VR apps with good support and for company, personal or widespread needs.


Companies/sites such as InstaVR allow simplified creation of VR content

Then… the target applications of these ‘total captures’ lends itself especially to the following areas: tourism, real estate, landscapes, showroom + showcase; anywhere where something requires soaking up a more detailed moment.

360 versus Snap

But you have to ask yourself the question: why did I ever bother with old photography? The answer lies with the images you frame and put on the wall. They’re a snap. A moment. I can see them becoming known as ‘snap-photography’ or ‘stills’ again and 360 evolving to become more common for bigger memories, or those experiences you especially want to capture or re-live. It’s a conscious choice more people will start to make. It will make photography deliberate again for a moment – more considered (“come on everyone, gather round the tripod for a special photo”) – before it all gets instantaneous again and the age of being ‘inside photography’; inside every moment… starts to take over…?

Sure, we’ll be crossing time and space and ‘visiting’ long-distance friends and relatives a whole lot easier with this new, more immersive photographic power. It will by gut-wrenching and heart-aching, inspirational and fascinating. It will be used and abused and as distracting from our own spaces and environments like everything else these days.

But maybe we’ll have other stuff like the hyperloop too, to take the edge off!


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