The inside scoop on 360° photography

Viewing collection objects on our website is nothing new, but being able to turn the object completely around and zoom in to get a close-up view of the intricacies of an object is. The Corning Museum of Glass Collections Photography department is working hard to bring 360° photography of select Museum objects to our guests and online visitors.

What does it take to create a 360° photograph?

Blaschka Nr. 216, Porpita mediterranea (1885); Porpita porpita (2016), Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, Dresden, Germany, 1885. Lent by Cornell University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. L.59.3.2015.

Blaschka Nr. 216, Porpita mediterranea
(1885); Porpita porpita (2016),
Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka,
Dresden, Germany, 1885.
Lent by Cornell University, Department
of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
L.59.3.2015.

The curators of our glass collection, which spans more than 35 centuries, prioritize which objects will be photographed in 360°. Starting with an object that lends itself to be viewed in 360°, we need to make sure that object is centered precisely on the turntable. That may not seem very complicated, but some objects have a natural curve to them or, as with this Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka 1885 model of a Porpita mediterranea (more commonly known as a blue button jellyfish) are not perfectly centered on their stands. We want the object to appear centered as it is viewed, instead of floating around your computer display. The last thing I want to do is cause someone motion sickness while viewing our amazing collections objects in 360°!

Once on the turntable, the object is illuminated to best show off its features. ***Warning: TechGeek Info: Depending on the size and details in the object, I may use a single soft light source such as a Lowel-Tota light mounted in a Chimera softbox, or a hard light source like a Mole-Richardson Mini-Mole. More often, a combination of lighting types is used. Reflector cards are also carefully placed to reflect light around and under the object, highlighting otherwise hidden details. USB cables tether both the Nikon digital camera and the turntable to the computer, and a sync cable from the turntable connects to the camera to control the shutter. Once all of these connections are made, the camera is positioned and I’m ready to shoot.

Allison preparing to shoot 360 images of Blaschka Nr. 213.

Allison preparing to shoot 360 images of Blaschka Nr. 213.

***Warning: More Tech Geek Info: I use Adobe Lightroom software to control the exposure settings on the camera and to capture the images. Adjustments to the turntable settings are made with Circleshot software, which allows control over the number and timing of stops, as well as the speed, acceleration, and deceleration between stops. The minimum number of shots per object is 36, taken at 10° intervals. I’ve found that capturing 72 exposures allows for a smoother transition when the object is rotated.

Screenshot from Lightroom showing the various exposures for Blaschka Nr. 173.

Screenshot from Lightroom showing the various exposures for Blaschka Nr. 173.

Once the images are captured, I review the RAW format images in Lightroom and export them as Adobe Photoshop PSDs so they can go through the post-capture workflow. Post-capture processing includes making sure the images are free of imaging spots and dust (it happens) and are cropped appropriately. Once complete, the images are converted into high-resolution TIFF files. The Digital Media department then uses the TIFF files to create animated GIFs like the image of Blaschka Nr. 213 below (click on the image to see the animation).

360 animated gif of Blaschka Nr. 213, Physophora magnifica (1885); Physophora hydrostatica (2016), Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, Dresden Germany, 1885. Lent by Cornell University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. L.17.3.63-516.

360 animated gif of Blaschka Nr. 213,
Physophora magnifica (1885);
Physophora hydrostatica (2016),
Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka,
Dresden Germany, 1885.
Lent by Cornell University, Department of
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
L.17.3.63-516.

Now you have the inside scoop on how the 360° photographs are made at The Corning Museum of Glass.

Follow the links below to view 360° photographs already available from the Collections Photography department. Scroll down to the 360° image on the Museum’s website and watch for new 360° images in the future.