Photographing a spherical reflector and post-processing the image to produce a one-shot panorama is not a new idea; what’s really cool about Ryan Burnside’s recent project is how cheap and accessible he’s made the process. Besides the obligatory digital camera and computer, Ryan’s method requires just two essentially free tools: 1) a mirrored Xmas ball, and 2) the GIMP open-source image manipulation program:

  1. Photograph the Xmas ball.
  2. Crop the image to a square circumscribing the ball.
  3. Run GIMP’s “Polar Coordinates” filter.
  4. Scale the aspect ratio as needed.

The exact scaling of the aspect ratio is a matter of some ongoing debate in the comment thread on Ryan’s blog. It occurs to me, also, that a lens-distortion correction step might be useful in this case as well. In any case, once you get a post-processing protocol established, automating it using Script-Fu, Gimp’s native macro language, should be straightforward. [via Hack a Day]