I first introduced the concept of 360 degree interactive panoramas and virtual reality tours to Visit Britain (formerly British Tourist Authority) back in 2009. At that time, it was still a relatively new and developing web technology, so it wasn’t until five years later in 2014, that the web content manager at VB contacted me about the idea of shooting 360 degree photographs for their new project “The Love Wall”. This was an online interactive map of the UK, which pinpointed places of interest for tourists to visit and explore.
Visit Britain asked me to shoot a 360 degree virtual tour of a number of locations in the UK for “The Love Wall”. Once again, the tours would include real location audio recordings and atmospheric soundtracks to help establish the spitit of the place and effectively promote the locations to a global audience. This imagery was to be part of the ongoing “Britain is Great” worldwide advertising campaign, and it was indeed a great opportunity for me to introduce and pioneer 360 media to the tourism and travel industry.
Once again i chose to shoot the location during the night, for several reasons. Firsly, Westminster Bridge is as busy as Picadilly Circus during the daytime, choked with tourists and day trippers who are coming to see one of the world’s most famous landmarks. Secondly, the Palace Of Westminster looks majestic when the lights switch on around dusk. Thirdly, the wind also tends to subside at night, which was paramount in recording the long shutter exposures that were needed to capture low light levels. Fourthly, its not possible to clearly hear the bells of Big Ben ring when they are drowned out by the heavy drone of daytime traffic.
I shot in multi frame High Dynamic Range to record the high contrast levels ranging from deep shadows to bright lights. I also shot the clock face separately at 4am, as i didn’t want the sound of the camera shutter recording in the ambient audio of the bells. I added the clock face later in Photoshop. Finally, whilst there were a few light trails from the passing traffic, i had to extend these in Photoshop to make them more fluid and convincing. What looks originally conceived to be a relatively simple shot, was actually a real technical headache to produce … but I hope you agree, it was worth every last drop of effort.
To read a more comprehensive case study of Visit Britain’s “Britain Is Great“campaign, please click the link.