Networking with tiny planet photographers around the globe has made my world smaller.
Tiny planet refers to a type of digital photo/video manipulation that wraps a photo into a sphere and lines up the horizon from each side of the photo. The result looks like a little planet floating in the sky. Though apps exist to turn any photo into a tiny planet, the best ones are created from extreme panoramas or full 360 spherical photos. My love of tiny planets started four years ago with my Ricoh Theta m15, the first consumer 360 camera.
As I started posting tiny planets on my Instagram account with tags relevant to my Theta m15, I encountered a very creative early adopter from Australia named Ben Claremont. Unlike me, Ben quickly devoted his entire Instagram output to tiny planets and added early 360 cameras from LG and Samsung to his toolkit. In the process, he became something of an authority on consumer 360 cameras. I also saw Ben posting in various 360 groups on Facebook where people discussed shooting techniques, software and gear. Ben and I have exchanged several messages and comments over the years, but he’s taken his 360 game to the next level, establishing himself as a true tiny planet and 360 camera guru with his Life in 360 YouTube channel.
There must be something about the land down under and tiny planets because I’ve interacted with several Aussies in those same Facebook groups. One of them is Daniel Pharaoh, who calls himself “The 360 Guy,” moderates several groups, runs a website and produces a lot of YouTube content. Closer to home, Michael Ty of Los Angeles shows up on all the major social media channels and in Facebook groups as the man behind 360 Rumors—a site that exhaustively follows gear and industry news. Michael always finds the time to post useful content, answer questions and give suggestions. It is hard to imagine anyone seriously interested in 360 cameras who hasn’t crossed paths with Michael in cyber-land. Late in 2017 when Ben Claremont hopped across the pond to give some 360 workshops in USA and Canada, he and Michael collaborated on some YouTube videos, and it was like a meeting of giants in our tiny planet universe.
While those guys stand out as movers and shakers in the 360 community, I can think of a dozen more individuals in the 360 community who regularly post their work, solicit tips and share their experience with the medium. VeeR, a Chinese-based social media VR/360 platform, is very active on Facebook and Instagram, recruiting creators like myself to contribute content to their site and staging themed contests to encourage submission of new content. While you can post the same sort of videos to YouTube and watch them in a headset, VeeR’s all-in support of 360 and VR makes me want to root for them. They recently launched the ability to upload 360 stills in addition to 360 videos. Each photo loads in as a tiny planet before spinning out to a rotatable 360 image. VeeR helped facilitate a couple of giveaways on my Instagram account. We had winners from Germany, Brazil, Bosnia, Texas and Boise—a testament to the global nature of this community I’ve found myself part of.
In a time when we hear to so much about the divisiveness of social media, it is fun to be part of a global community of creators that lets our passion for tech gadgets and crazy photo manipulation unite us online.