Intro to Spherical Photography

I’ve always been fascinated by 360° spherical photographs (sometimes called “mirrorballs, planets or wormholes”). [Click to Enlarge]

I bought a Ricoh Theta S with two 180° fisheye lenses pointing in opposite directions. The raw photographs are similar to equirectangular maps where the equator is “normal” and the poles are stretched. To prove this point I took a random map from the web and transformed it into a globe…

Here is the Theta S equivalent of the source map above…

The camera is controlled from a smartphone, and comes with software to turn the flat image into a sphere (top), a planet, or a wormhole (below).

The photos above were taken with a special tripod that is mostly invisible. The camera does have a physical shutter release so it can also be used as a handheld. [Note the giant hand, but where’s the camera?!]


You can flatten the horizon for an ultra-wide angle panorama.

Or bend the photo into a 360° planet


In the two photos above, the camera is mounted on a two foot mast just in front of my feet.

Trim the top and bottom and you have a 360° conventional panorama

You can also hold the camera above your head for an interesting effect…


I finally understand how these Mars Curiosity self-portraits are possible, again where’s the camera?!

My Two Cents on Net Neutrality

Comment Sent to the FCC

I strongly object to splitting the Internet into fast and slow
lanes. The current near monopoly power of a handful of companies
(Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, etc.) has led to our current
situation (supply of bandwidth lagging well behind demand). We the
people are already paying too much for too little. The fact that
Netflix must pay to have Comcast deliver its product is damning. If
Netflix is in such high demand, why doesn’t Comcast increase its
capacity? The public has already paid for it!! In a normal
marketplace this would be automatic. The FCC has been asleep at the
switch on this one.

The simple solution is to correctly label and regulate ALL
Internet Service Providers as Common Carriers! Please do this soon!!

Send your comments to:

Painfully slow submission process; confusing, redundant web forms; when I first tried to submit I got a “can’t find the server” error. Had to come back an hour later to complete the process. Oy Vay!

It’s almost as if they don’t want to hear from us?

November 10 Update

President Obama comes out strong for Net Neutrality, including the most important bit… I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. In other words, regulate ISPs as common carriers. Yes!

Lucid, Engaging Explanation of Net Neutrality by Vi Hart

This is the best exposition I’ve seen of the recent about face by the FCC and what’s at stake if it should become reality. Major take home…

ISPs Are Common Carriers!

They should be regulated as such. She also answers the question why we in the US pay so much for so little? Directly out of my Econ 101 textbook… Monopolies are bad for everyone except the monopolists. Vi puts traditional media outlets to shame. Kudos!

June 1 Update: Humorous take on the same topic by John Oliver! [profanity]