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360 Camera Techniques

Why and how to become a Google Trusted Photographer for Google Street View: techniques, cameras, equipment

Why and how to become a Google Trusted Photographer
Why and how to become a Google Trusted Photographer

360 photos are in great demand, yet there are many businesses and unsold houses that don’t have one yet.   If you want to earn money with 360 photos, one way to get started is by becoming a Google Trusted Photographer.  This post will show you how, including the cameras, tools, software, tips and techniques that will help you.

What is a Google Trusted Photographer? Why should you become one?
Video tutorial
Where to buy cameras and stands
Shooting techniques


What is a Google Trusted Photographer? In addition to fulltime Google Street View photographers on Google’s payroll, there are independent photographers who take 360 photos of businesses for Street View — those are Google Trusted Photographers.  Although Google won’t pay you for contributing 360 photos for Street View, becoming a Google Trusted Photographer allows you to be listed on their directory of trusted 360 photographers, and get the opportunity to get hired by businesses to take 360 photos of their establishment.

Google Trusted Photographer directory
Google Trusted Photographer directory


Here’s a tutorial that shows why and how to become a Google Trusted Photographer

TABLE OF CONTENTS for the video
00:31 Benefits of becoming a Google Trusted Photographer
00:51 How to become a Google Trusted Photographer
01:35 Which camera to get
01:38 Low cost cameras under $100
02:50 Better cameras $199 to $399
05:48 Stands and tripods
08:38 How to add a photo to Street View
09:53 Tips and techniques
10:34 How to get more views on Street View


WHERE TO BUY:
In the video, I showed several cameras and equipment.  Here are links where you can buy them.

Cameras:

Some 360 cameras I would recommend for Street View
Some 360 cameras I would recommend for Street View

Samsung Gear 360* (~$80) – good detail and dynamic range; limited exposure controls, compatible only with Samsung S6 and above.
LG 360 Cam* (~$100) – low cost; noticeable chroma noise
Ricoh Theta SC* (~$200) – built in HDR mode, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls; chromatic aberration
Ricoh Theta S* (~$250) – built in HDR mode, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls; chromatic aberration
Ricoh Theta V* ($399) – Street View video mode, built in HDR mode, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls; chromatic aberration
Ricoh Theta V* with free selfie stick
Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere ($250) – excellent resolution and dynamic range, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls; some chromatic aberration
Xiaomi Mi Sphere discount codes
Insta360 ONE for iPhone ($299 at Gearbest or Amazon) – excellent resolution and dynamic range, excellent stitching, excellent exposure controls
Insta360 ONE for Android: TBA
Yi 360 VR* – excellent stitching on desktop; poor stitching on mobile app

* these cameras can connect directly to the Google Street View app

Stands:

For best results, use a stand for your Street View photos
For best results, use a stand for your Street View photos

Benro MK10 selfie stick tripod. How to remove the ballhead – see here.
Manfrotto Nanopole
Manfrotto Nano
Monopod (use your own tripod legs)


Shooting techniques:

As I mentioned in the video, it is important to use the right techniques for 360 photos to ensure that your photos will be approved.

1. Avoid placing anything important in the stitch line. This is a fundamental rule of 360 photography. Almost all spherical 360 cameras use two or more lenses. In order to create a 360 photo or video, images from those lenses must be combined (“stitched”). Anything placed in between a 360 camera’s lenses (the green area is within the stitch line, where there is the highest likelihood of distortion, especially for objects close to the camera. Therefore you should avoid putting anything important within the stitch line.

Green area shows the stitch line
Green area shows the stitch line

2. If possible, point the stitch line toward the key light (the primary light source).  This is another very important and fundamental technique.  If you aim the stitch line toward the key light (the primary light source), then the light will be more or less similar between the lenses, thus ensuring an even exposure throughout the 360 photo.
3. Ensure that the horizon is straight.  This is another very important rule for 360 photos.  The horizon must be level, or else looking around the 360 photo will be disorienting.  To ensure a level horizon, make sure the camera is level when you shoot.  If necessary, correct the horizon with Theta Converter or similar software.
4. Understand the exposure triangle.  You should understand ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and exposure.  You should also understand the correct exposure for digital cameras.
5. Ensure that the lens is clean.  Unlike telephoto lenses, ultrawide lenses such as those used in most 360 cameras are very susceptible to dust and fingerprints, and they will affect your image quality.  You should ensure that your lenses are clean.
6. Use a self-timer or remote shutter.   If you trigger the shutter with your finger, then your hands will be very prominent in the 360 photo.  To avoid this, you should use a self-timer or remote shutter to give you time to move your hand and probably yourself away from the camera.
7. Use a stand.  360 cameras sometimes have mini tripods but they are rarely tall enough to be useful.  Instead, use a stand to position the 360 camera at the right height.  One way to determine the correct height is to place it between eye level and shoulder level of the viewpoint you want the viewers to have.
8. Align the camera with the stand to make the stand less visible.  Align your stand along the stitch line of the camera to make the stand less visible, or in some cases invisible.

With these techniques, you should be able to take 360 photos that will get approved for Street View.  If you are interested in meeting other like-minded 360 photographers, join the 3D and 360 Virtual Tour Network on Facebook.  And if you found this article helpful, you can get posts from 360 Rumors sent automatically to your email by subscribing (for free).

About the author

Mic Ty

17 Comments

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  • Good post.
    Couple thoughts. always put a watermark with contact info at the bottom of a sphere, easier for potential businesses to contact you.
    While the theory is good, “just” being “trusted” is not quite getting a lot of business, visit stores, create a price-sheet structure. with different levels of service, starting at say $250, for 1-click camera type tours going up to higher end tours with HDR and DSLR quality. its good to be able to explain to a restaurant owner what he gets for another $200 and or even much more.. “thats what places like the hilton spend for all there restaurant tours”..

    LOL notice you did not put the Panono on the recommended list? 🙂 probably a good choice as close range stitching may be challenging.

    Bo

    • Hey Spillo, you have to photography google-map POI (Point of interest) like the local flower-store. Google prefer you shooting one in front of the main entrance, so they have a natural link into the tour point.

      If you shot just one outside, its maybe not that interesting, but should still have been accepted. things like doing a tour of a park is typically welcome. I have shot tons of outside shots, never been rejected.. so im guessing there may be a technical flaw ?

    • I’ve taken photos indoors and outdoors. Sometimes it takes a while for a photo to get approved. It could be a week or two or possibly longer.
      Best regards,
      Mic

  • Hi Mic, thanks for this article.

    I want to ask you about the ideal height (of the camera) when shooting. Eye level (appx 170cm / 5’5)?? Or a bit higher, or even a bit lower? What do you think is the best height?

    • Hi Indramin! The ideal height is the height that you want your viewers to see. In general that is between shoulder level and eye level. But sometimes you can take it from a very high height if you want to make them feel like they are floating. Or you can shoot from a low angle if you want things to look gigantic from the viewer’s point of view. Best regards, Mic

  • When shooting inside places like restaurants or cafes, do you ask permission? Or do you just go there to eat/drink and just take the photo?

    • Generally its a good idea to ask permission, remember in public on the street people have no reasonable expectation of privacy, (legal definition of photographing in public) however in a private space they DO have expectation of privacy. if you plan to repost it, best no laws violated. most managers will be thrilled with a couple shots. naturally its a grey-zone, we all have taken selfies in restaurants. and I have grabbed more than one shot in a business with the camera on selfie stick.. but why not ask and do 4-5 for a mini virtual tour if you are just looking to add shots to your StreetView trusted account project.?

      • Yes that’s a good idea. Incidentally, restaurants are semi-public, so it’s a gray area. Anyway, one advantage of street view app is it can blur faces automatically. Doing a mini virtual tour is a great suggestion! Best regards, Mic

    • Hi Alex. When I eat there, I just take a photo. When I want to take a photo without eating I just go there and take a photo. If they stop me, I would tell them I’m shooting it for street view to give them more publicity. If they still tell me to stop then I stop. So far that has happened only twice out of the countless photos I’ve taken. Best regards, Mic

  • Hi, just a note on the LG360, if it’s updated to the latest frimware version, will lose the change to be used though the Google Street View App, lot of posts have been on the Samsung Forums but LG haven’t care about any Fix for this Bug