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360 degrees of Leckhampton Hill in autumnal virtual reality, by Stephen Shepherd

1 November 2016

Stephen Shepherd started working as a national press photographer at the features picture desk of The Daily Telegraph, shooting the usual weekend supplement imagery, such as portraits and features. For over nine years he worked there on a freelance basis as well as shooting for a variety of business publications, consumer magazines and corporate clients.  He then moved to Glouchestershire and has been based there for the past ten years while continuing to work in London for few days a month.

His current portfolio includes VR work, library shoots, commissioned work in education, press and in industry, and his clients include The Times Educational Supplement, Guardian & Observer, The Times, and The Express, in addition to corporate clients.

To see the full 360 panorama of this autumnal scene, please click here.

As with all these things it started simply, with me shooting a panoramic image made up of four shots, trying to rotate the camera around the nodal point of the lens on the end of my finger, and then layering the images together in Photoshop. This then also progressed onto me offering clients stitched panoramas and full Virtual Reality (VR) photography.

However, I was still balancing the camera on the end of my finger but with the knowledge of the process gained by reading about how to shoot the images and use the sticthing software on the "Panoramic Tools Graphical User Interface"(PtGUi) website. Of course a client then responded with "Yes, that would be great, can you come next week?" So what started out as a bit of fun away from day to day work saw me, as always, having to make an investment in new kit, a new tripod head for moving the camera around the nodal point of the lens to make stitching easy and new software, plus lots of time practicing the technique. The commission went well and I delivered VR interiors of lecture halls, meeting rooms, the chapel and so on.

Some time later on a weekend walk I remembered the reason I had started shooting this way - the landscape. I found myself in the woods on an amazing late autumn afternoon with the sun going down a canopy of multi-coloured leaves set against a blue sky and the floor a carpet of bronze beech leaves. I grabbed my gear from the back of the car, headed back to the centre of the glade, set up the kit and shot the images required to make up the VR scene. I have always enjoyed shooting landscapes but felt a little limited in the single shot / lens combination, so this is where the VR world has given me a new way to look at and interpret the landscape. I used the PtGui software to stitch the individual shots together then took it one step further and created the VR image from this panorama (another option in the PtGui software) which delivers a final package ready for uploading to a website as you can see here.

See more work by Stephen Shepherd

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