Polaramas are images that have been distorted to turn them into little worlds, as in the images above. These two polaramas were created from the same image, one just slightly more cropped. You can see the huge difference that it makes to the image itself.
Polaramas are images that have been distorted using Photoshop's Polar Coordinates distortion which turns them in on themselves to create a little world out of your photo. They are really fun to look at and really simple to make.
So what do you need to make a polarama?
- First, you need Photoshop. I don't work with other photo editing programmes, so I am not sure if they would have the same option to create this or what it would be called.
- You need to have a photo that is at least twice as long as it is wide. Panoramic images work well with this, particularly if they have been taken at 360 degrees as it means that the ends of the photos come together well. You will see in some of the examples that are posted here, the sky was bluer on one end compared to the other or one side of the image had rocks when the other didn't. I still like the look of them, but it isn't as cool as when everything comes together perfectly.
- You may want to choose an image that is fairly simple around the top and around the bottom. The top area is the area that gets distorted the most, so if it very busy, you will have a very busy area around the top and it won't keep much definition. I find that photos with a sky framing them work well.
- Five minutes to spare.
Open up your Photoshop and either load your image or (if you are using a panoramic image that has yet to be pieced together) put it together. Note: If you are planning on using a panorama, you will often find that the bigger the image, the longer the polarama takes to generate and the more of your CPU space it uses - don't be scared to save the panorama somewhere and then resize it for the polarama.
These two polaramas were made using the same panorama of my front garden. On the right is the regular polarama, on the left is the inverted one.
Once you have your picture in Photoshop, the next step is to change the dimensions. I use Photoshop CS5, so please bear with me... I only know how to use this and do not know the steps to change the image size in other versions or other programmes, but it really can't be too difficult! Select Image from the top menu and click on Image Size. You will want the height to be adjusted to the same size as the width. So copy the width and paste it into the height area. You will see that you have a big, distorted square.
Now, here you have a choice. You can either have a regular polarama with the sky on the outskirts of the image, or you can have an inverted polarama where everything else is on the outside and you are looking into the sky. I love them both to be honest and can't decide which method I prefer. You will have to decide that for yourself. If you want a regular polarama, be sure to rotate your image 180 degrees so that it is upside down. If you want an inverted one, you can leave it as is. See the above for examples of each.
Some polaramas from tongyeong island in South Korea. Note the different colours and aspects of the photos joining in the middle where the two sides of the image meet. Taking a 360 degree panorama will fix that, as in the cases of the panoramas taken in my garden above.
Now your image is ready. Select Filter from the top menu, mouse over Distort and select Polar Coordinates. It may take awhile to load, particularly if the photo in question is a large one. I know that I had trouble with large images that couldn't handle the distortion and it kept coming up saying that I didn't have enough RAM to complete the job. If that happens to you, just shrink the image and you should be fine. Make sure that Rectangular to Polar is selected and then click OK. And voila! You have yourself a polarama.
A panorama of Tongyeong and one of Grahamstown.
Have fun with it! I know I have been :)