Putting London in a Spin

March 31, 2011 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Photographers | 3 Comments |
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With help from Swiftspin, aerial photographer Kevin Allen has produced interactive 360° spins of St Paul’s Cathedral and Canary Wharf Tower. Shot using a Canon 1Ds Mk III camera with a 35mm f1.4L lens and a twin squirrel helicopter flying at about 1000ft, the St Paul’s spin is made up of 72 individual photos. The animation part was done by Swiftspin. Since completing the St Paul’s project, Kevin has also produced a similar spin of Canary Wharf Tower (One Canada Square), which you can view by visiting the website below.

Website: Kevin Allen Photography - Spin 360

Swiftspin Press Release

Putting London in a Spin

We’ve all seen websites displaying images of rotating shoes and handbags, but what do you think would be the biggest item you could shoot as a 360 product spin? A drum kit? A sofa? Perhaps a car? How about St. Paul’s Cathedral? Well, one photographer has managed just that, with a little help from 360 product spin experts Swiftspin.

Kevin Allen has been at the forefront of aerial photography since 1994 and understandably, when visiting photography trade shows, he rarely gives companies offering studio techniques a second glance. That is until he met the Swiftspin team at ’Focus on Imaging’. Seeing the variety of products Swiftspin photographers were spinning made him wonder whether the fields of aerial photography and 360 spins could be combined. His idea? To produce interactive spins of various London landmarks.

“Members of our photographer’s scheme often seek our advice on how best to create 360 spins of products such as shoes, jewellery and electronic items”, says Swiftspin director Terry Mapstone. “And from time to time we receive unusual requests like how to shoot a full sized fighter jet and even a stuffed bison. Kevin’s idea was the most adventurous to date, and certainly the largest, but we were confident that his aerial expertise coupled with our 360 guides would achieve the results he was after”.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was shot using a Canon 1DsmkIII using a 35mm L f1.4 lens on RAW setting. The shoot was conducted using a twin squirrel helicopter flying at about 1000ft. It can be difficult shooting over central London, not only the £20 per minute hire cost, but the fact that you can get moved on very quickly should other aircraft be in the vicinity, so time really is of the essence. Another problem is the weather, a windless day helps the pilot considerably but strong sunlight can cause distracting shadows and inconsistent cloud cover can cause havoc with exposures.

“I pick a distance from the subject allowing for cropping and straightening, often using a gyro stabiliser to keep the horizon level”, says Kevin. “I try to keep the focus point on where I think the centre of the image is, in the case of St. Paul’s Cathedral it was the top of the dome, then I have to trust the pilot to keep the same distance in as near a perfect orbit as possible”.

72 shots were taken in total which meant that a very smooth spin could be produced for video purposes or every other shot could be reduced in size to make a web viewable, interactive Swiftspin. “I followed the simple instructions on cropping, how to centre the image, sharpening and batching before sending the files to the guys at Swiftspin to work their magic. I’d much rather get them to animate so that I can concentrate on my photography”.

The St. Paul’s experiment was a great success and Kevin aims to use it along with 360 spins of Canary Wharf and the new Olympic stadium when he promotes his new 360 spin service. You can find out more about Kevin’s aerial 360 photography at http://images2buy.com/spin_360.html.

For photographers wishing to offer a 360 product spin service to their clients you can access invaluable guides and manuals by signing up as a member for a special rate of just £50 per year (ex VAT) at Swiftspin’s website http://www.swiftspin360.com/



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3 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Okono Miyaki

Honestly, ... I don't see the complexity of the task. I won't shout a "wow", because it does not even deserve a pffff. Boring.

12:52 am - Friday, April 1, 2011

#2 Dafydd Owen

As above. Aerial photography has been done before and much better.
Clever little twist but nothing worthy of so much coverage.

12:29 pm - Friday, April 1, 2011

#3 Tayo

Great article, this is a new face in digital photography.

5:32 pm - Monday, April 4, 2011