The Bead Biz - Google Business Photos in Helena, Alabama / by

As some of you might know, I've began working as a Google Trusted Photographer. This means that I've been trained and authorized by Google to create 360º virtual walk through tours of businesses and integrate them with various Google functions.

Last week I was able to do my first ones. This was both exciting and nerve racking. This kind of photography is extremely technical. There are details, such as finding true north, sight lines, camera angle, etc that I’ve never had to deal with before. Still, I’ve practiced many times, taken tests, and proven myself worthy.

The very first one was for Bead Biz right here in Helena. The owner, Lora, was fantastic to work with. Her store is a dazzling pallet of color and shining detail. This is really the perfect setting for the Google tour. I’d driven by many times in the years that I’ve lived in Helena and never known what they were all about. Lora has classes where she teaches you how to make jewelry, she can guide you in making your own creation, you can buy ready made jewelry. If you’re in the Helena area I would highly recommend stopping in and saying hi to Lora and her staff!

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The tour itself is created using a fisheye lens. In this case I use a Sigma 8mm 3.5 mounted to a Canon T2i. The focus is manually set and between the super wide angle and the aperture of f8, I get plenty of depth of field. The ISO is set to 400 so the shutter speeds aren't crazy slow but they are still long. Each direction is photographed using a 2 stop bracket on either side of the metered exposure. The lens has to be at a specific angle and the camera has to be rotated exactly 90º for each direction. To make this happen smoothly I use a Nodal Ninja R10 panoramic head in combination with my tripod. To avoid any camera movement I change camera settings and trigger the shutter remotely by my tethered laptop. The panoramas are then stitched together in Google's software to create the final tour.

Want more photography lessons and tips? Check out my e-book, See the Light - Understanding Digital Photography. Now available in the iTunes book store!