With the release of the 1.1 update for the Photosynth App for iOS last week we started a contest where for the next 15 weeks we’ll be featuring the best panorama entered on the new Best of Bing Maps page in the app, and giving away an Xbox 360 with Kinect prize package to the photographer who took it.
For the first week’s contest we had 702 Entries by 313 photographers, but though there were many strong contenders, in the end, there could only be one winner.
Greg’s panorama is of a harbor along an inlet in the South of France. Check this area out on Bing Maps and see other panoramas and synths nearby.
I thought it might be useful to other aspiring entrants to give some insight into what makes a great panorama and why we considered this week's winner something special.
Chances are that a panorama of your living room or the parking lot of your local mall will never be a winner, no matter how technically perfect. We’re looking for subjects that will appeal to and interest all our users. Landmarks, scenic vistas, spectacular events and/or the unique, weird, surprising or strange will all stand a better chance of winning than the mundane.
In this case Greg did a great job selecting his subject, it’s a beautiful location and there’s so much detail to zoom in on in the harbor and cliffs. And even the “back” side of the panorama has interesting things to look at – the path along the cliffs, other hikers and blooming flowers.
Just like taking a traditional photo, the conditions you create a panorama under have a large effect on the outcome. Let’s say we have two panoramas of the Eiffel Tower taken from the same spot. If one was taken on a gray day in flat light, and the other in the magic hour (just after sunrise/just before sunset) with brilliant lighting, the one with the great lighting conditions will come out on top.
Though it wasn’t taken at magic hour, Greg’s panorama has great color, and there are no harsh midday shadows.
One difference between a panorama and a single photo is that it is made up of multiple captures that need to come together as a whole. A single blurry capture can ruin the chances of an otherwise great panorama. Stitching errors caused by the photographer moving the phone around their body, instead of their body around their phone is another common problem we see. Check out this how-to video for details. Another factor to consider when capturing is coverage. In most cases more is better – get as close to a full sphere capture as possible. But there are cases where a full sphere could hurt your chances. For example if you’re taking a dramatic cityscape from a hotel room balcony, including the bland hotel decor behind you isn’t going to win you any points.
Greg did a great job capturing this panorama, it’s apparent he took great care to keep the phone in a single position and it shows in the results: no stitching errors introduced by a change in position, a clean horizon, and the panorama is sharp in every direction. He also came very close to capturing a full sphere, leaving only a small section at the south pole uncovered.
Have you added a name and place to your panorama? When trying to decide between two potential winners the presence or absence of this data may serve as a tie-breaker. It only takes a few seconds so be sure to add it.
This week’s winner has a clear, descriptive title, and was also associated with a place.
Get Out and Shoot!
You still have 14 more chances to win. You can find all the details on how to enter and official contest rules in the Best of Bing feature in the app. So grab your phone, enter the contest, capture a panorama of places and events that you find interesting, and then share them with the world!
Tony Ernst on behalf of the Photosynth Team