2017 Photochallenge, week 20: Stack’Em Up – Traffic Pile-up

We’ve all seen startrails, they’re basically a series of semi-long exposures of the stars assembled into one image. The technique used is stacking. By stacking multiple images together, the differences in each image appear as one. For a long time stacking was the work of expensive editing software. I personally call that a composite image although some purists will argue. It’s quite obvious that we aren’t going to be making star trails with a title like “Traffic Pile-up”. However the technique is very similar to our week 52 challenge from December 2016. We’re just going to be presenting it in an incremental video instead of a single image.

The little video above is what I’m talking about, we’re going to be stacking traffic, although I used cars, the stereotypical definition of traffic pile-ups, you have creative freedom over the definition, allowing you to add your own personal touch to this process.

What I did is fairly simple : 

  • I setup my camera (RICOH THETA S) to do interval shooting of one picture every 10 seconds for 10 minutes.
  • I stacked the first six images representing the first minute.
  • I then added 6 more images that represent one additional minute of stacking.
  • I continued adding increments of 6 images until I reached the total shooting time of ten minutes, producing ten images where traffic incrementally piled-up.
  • I put together my ten images in a short video in the style of a time lapse.

I did this quickly in photoshop, but I wanted to bring this to the 2017 PhotChallenge in a way that everyone can participate on a budget whether you’re using state of the art camera gear or your smartphone camera.

I found a little piece of freeware designed for startrails that works on MAC, PC and Linux. It’s called StarStax and it does a wonderful job of stacking JPEG images into a single composite image. Here’s the link : http://www.markus-enzweiler.de/StarStaX/StarStaX.html#download

There’s even a Flickr group to inspire you : https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephaniesaccoccio/31637339573/in/pool-starstax/


To complete your challenge:

  • Remember it has to be a TRAFFIC PILE-UP or a reasonable interpretation of…
  • You final submission will be in the form of a time-lapse illustrating the gradual pile-up through composite images.
  • You do not have to follow my timing, however it is an easy formula to follow.


The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

2015 CHALLENGE, WEEK 23 OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY – PhotoSpheres & 360 Degree Panoramas

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


Here’s what we call a photosphere. Although more popular with Android Phone users, I believe the concept was initially pushed forward by real-estate photographers who captured a scene with 4 images from an 8mm lens mounted to a full frame DSLR. Some pros even use computer controlled motorized panoramic heads. It would all be stitched in a professional software solution like KOLOR. The ability to create photospheres is now hitting mainstream thanks to Google. It has also expanded to IOS devices (IOS APP) and a variety of other devices. Small cameras like the Ricoh Theta are specifically designed to capture full spherical images.


The images in their rectangular form are called equirectangular images. To be viewed in their spherical form most photographers upload them to Google +, Google Views and/or share them on the Theta360 web site using the Ricoh application. If your equirectangular image was created with a DSLR instead of an Android phone, iPhone or an other compatible device, you will need to add XMP metadata information to your image before it can correctly be interpreted by Google Maps or the Ricoh Theta application. To do so google provides you with the tools on this web site : http://photo-sphere.appspot.com/

Once the correct information is entered and the XMP metadate updated, you can upload your equirectangular images to google maps and it will display as a photosphere with location information. You can also upload your images to Google+ and the Google+ API will take care of displaying your photosphere correctly.

There’s also your 360 degree panoramic images. They’re at times called a Cylindrical Panorama. Basically it’s a 360 degree view around you without the view of what is above you or below you. These are easier to create with a DSLR or any other camera. They can be merged and processed easily in Photoshop or with an application similar to Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor (ICE). Again the easiest way is to use a mobile phone. The android camera app has it built-in. I created the above 360 panorama with my Google Nexus 4. When I create them with my DSLR I like using a 50mm lens.

Here are a few resources for you:

  1. Al Tompkins has an article on PhotoSpheres : http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/visuals/280433/photo-sphere-a-free-and-simple-tool-gives-interactivity-and-depth-to-stories/
  2. Google has a reference page for creating PhotoSpheres and 360 Panoramic images on Google Views : https://support.google.com/maps/answer/3203091?hl=en
  3. KOLOR has some tutorials for shooting handheld and with mechanical assistance : http://www.kolor.com/panoramas/#start



Since this is Outdoor Photography, we’re looking for this week’s challenge to be completed in an outdoor location. Due to the complexity this challenge may present you are free to choose an urban or natural setting.

Do some research, plan and choose your objective. Will you be creating a Photosphere or 360 degree panorama? A few searches on the internet like “photosphere with camera ***” and “how to create a photosphere with camera ***” should lead you in the right direction.

If you find technical resources that you wish to share that can help your fellow PhotoChallenge members, please feel free to share those links on the PhotoChallenge page @ https://www.facebook.com/photochallenge.org

Since Facebook and Flickr do not support spherical images, you only need to post the flat image of your 360 panorama or the equirectangular image. If you have a link to the animated spherical or cylindrical view on Google, Ricoh Theta 360 or other supported site, please include the link for all to enjoy.

I hope you’re all up to this Challenge. Don’t get discouraged. My first ever 360 panorama was not a great success, but I still like it.

I like to create and use Photospheres for my blog. I find it to be a rich multimedia tool that helps immerse my audience in ways that you just can’t accomplish with video and still images. I hope you enjoy the experience of creating Photospheres and 360 Degree Panoramas as much as I do.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.