Selfies with Photosynth

By Aimee Whitcroft 06/09/2012 3

A few months ago, I downloaded Microsoft’s Photosynth app for my iPhone.


Now, before you all start shouting ‘Booooo!’, I’d like to point out that Photosynth has been around for a while, and is a pretty cool and clever piece of tech. Also, the app is a joy to use.

Another reason I’ve been playing with Photosynth, other than knowing about it for yonks and being overjoyed when I saw it as an app, is that I _like_ the idea that one can upload one’s synths into a global map containing other people’s too, as well as explore other synths.

However, today I discovered an interesting weakness.  It all started when I thought – ‘ooh, lemme try taking a selfie, as I almost never manage to take any decent ones!’. Next thought was then ‘oooh – what about a 3d synth selfie?!’. And then: the weirdness 😛

While the app is awesome if the photo taker is at the centre of the panorama being taken, it handles things rather less well when the photo taker _is_ the panorama being taken.

Essentially, if one thinks of oneself as being the centre of a sphere, it’s very good at taking photos of the shell of the sphere, but not its core.

So, below, a couple of examples, just to show what I mean!

First, one that worked.  This is the view from Greta Point, looking out across the bays (Wellington harbour on your left, the airport on your right). Also, Wellington is gorgeous, yes.


Greta Point, Wellington. Click on the image to get to the full, interactive, 3D synth. Credit: aimee whitcroft


And now, one that worked less well, with me at the centre.  Yes, this is me.  Taken exactly the same way, I might add, just with the camera facing _into_ the sphere rather than _out_ of it.


aimee whitcroft, taken at Greta Point, Wellington. Click on the image to get to the full, interactive, 3D synth. Credit: aimee whitcroft


Also, I tried it a couple of times of the bus, and same thing!

For those who doubt that I don’t look like some sort of exploded Picasso-type thing, here’s the proof 😛


aimee whitcroft selfie - credit aimee whitcroft

My head – normally in one piece.


So anyway, I’ll keep playing with PS, and see how I go.  There are some more of mine here, and I am KICKING myself for not taking a bunch in Mongolia. Sigh.

3 Responses to “Selfies with Photosynth”

  • Classic result from not rotating the camera about its focal point.
    You will get best results if you don’t put your head at the centre and take photos with your camera at arms length. This gives parallax distortion and unless you tap to take many more pictures than the minimum you will get terrible stepping in the panorama.

    Instead. Try to hold the camera fixed in space. I you have a pole or stick. Hold the camera at the top of it and rotate about the sticks axis.

    Good luck. Takes some getting used to the concept. It just sounds to me like a “selfie” isn’t quite the process envisaged the math geeks that designed the software.

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