Microsoft Photosynth is a service that takes photo composition and sharing to a new level. Going beyond stitching together a few photos to create one wide picture, it allows you to create 360-degree views that also let you look upward and downward, as well as create 3D views of a single object by taking photos from all sides.
You can share the "synths" you create via the web, publicly or just with your friends, and with geo-tagging your synths can be incorporated into Bing Maps.
Before we get into the software, let's start at the very beginning: Photos. You will need to take many photos to get a good synth. If you're using an iPhone or iPad, "there's an app for that," which provides some guidance that I'll cover later on.
For now, let's assume you'll be using a digital point-and-shoot or SLR camera. You should go take a look at some of the examples at Photosynth.net to give you inspiration.
If you're shooting the interior of a room and want to create a 360-degree view, you'll want to start by standing in the center and taking photos as you turn around. You don't want the number of degrees in rotation to change more than 25 degrees per shot, so that means at a minimum you'd need to take 15 photos, and it's a good idea to take twice that many or more to give Photosynth as much material to work with as possible.
You need at least 50% overlap from one photo to the next; if you don't have enough overlap, Photosynth won't be able to figure out how to tie everything together, and you'll get something less than 360 degrees worth of synth.
Once you've got the hang of doing a 360-degree view of a room, you can take the experience up a notch by taking more photos (still 25 degrees apart) from all the corners of the room, as well as the center of each wall.
Here is a good example. It will let you go beyond a 360-degree panorama, allowing the viewer to see multiple points of view from within a room. This is perfect for indoor shoots in museums or historical sites!
You can also create a different sort of 360-degree experience by having a stationary object and walking in circles around it while taking photosthis is great for statues and cool cars. To get really good results, you'll need to be able to walk in a circle in a 5-foot radius around the object. It's also helpful if you can vary the height and/or angle of the camera and take more than one pass around the object.
Figure 1 Select the overhead view in the Photosynth viewer to get your bearings in a large synth