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Ocean Front 360VR Photography by Mario Restrepo

Published: 23/05/2008
By: larry

Mario Restrepo of San Diego, CA sent me a link recently to one of his recent shoots of an ocean front Las Gaviotas luxury property about an hour south of San Diego.

I particularly like Mario's simple, elegant tour interface and integration of a large satellite Google map of the area into the tour. Nice work Mario.

Mario also asked about resources for improving his 360VR photography. My suggestion to him was the following:

  • Study the work of others. For VR photography one of the best communities is the PanotoolsNG forum on yahoo. This is one of the biggest communities of VR photographers I know of. In particular look at the work of Jook Leung. I think Jook is one of the best in area of VR work.
  • Join and participate in IAPP (International Association of Panoramic Photographers) this group is a great resource for VR photography.

5 comments on “Ocean Front 360VR Photography by Mario Restrepo”

  1. Hi Larry,

    I really appreciate you taking a look at my work. I took an interest in learning about real estate photography to help market my own listings. I put in an effort to learn as much about property presentation as possible, and 360° panoramas became a big part of that.

    To shoot 360° panoramas for real estate, you really have to use a number of different programs with my main ones being PTGui Pro, Panotools plugins for Photoshop, CS2, Photomatix, Immervision, and sometimes Flash. In addition, it really helps to become familiar with html, Java Script, and xml.

    I chose to use the java platform for virtual tours versus flash only because I like the way I can control antialiasing, which makes for smoother panning while still being able to maintain reasonable file sizes. I find that I am keeping my file sizes down to about 50% of what 360° full screen panorama artists are using. I know there is an expense that goes with that, but I still think there is enough detail and quality in the panorama to satisfy the client’s conversion rate. If I was displaying a panorama for artistic expression, then I would be okay with increasing my panorama file size to over 1.5 megabytes. But for 360° real estate photography, which is more commercial in nature, I keep my file sizes to nearly half that, and I can still comfortably display panoramas in full screen, which is an important part of my presentation.

    Ocean views here in Baja and San Diego are huge, so I put a focus on capturing the views through the windows. Of all the techniques available to capture the views through the windows, I prefer to wait until the light coming into the room through the windows is nearly equal to the light present in the room, which happens near the end of the day. I arrive at the house early to preview all the rooms and outdoor areas, and then I determine what rooms and areas to shoot first. Usually I shoot bathrooms and rooms away from the sun first. Sometimes I have to shoot fast to get to the next room quick because the best lighting for a house may only last about 10 minutes. And sometimes I have to go back to the house the next day to finish the shoot. Also, to capture views through the windows, I will do some occasional masking in Photoshop, some hdr, and for still images I will occasionally use Speedlites. But I put an emphasis on keeping images looking as natural as possible.

    When asked to do so, I will include a still image slide show and have a button on the user interface identified as ‘movie.’ In the very near term, I will improve on my presentation of slideshows.

    As for hardware, I use a sigma 8mm Sigma fisheye lens, a Panosaurus tripod head, and manfrotto tripod. I also use a 10mm Sigma lens for still shots. The Rebel XTi I use has been adequate, but I plan on upgrading soon. I do prefer to shoot in RAW, but I have had success with just shooting jpegs.

    At first my 360° work was horrible, I had stitching errors everywhere, and my photography skills were not much better then anything you would find on some of the most funny horrible real estate photos slide shows. But I kept on practicing and reading. My sources for online learning were, and still are, and the related site,, and some of the forums of the different software programs that I use. Larry has also introduced me to other sources as well.

    I am originally from San Diego and I can service that market. But I like being down in Baja, about an hour south of San Diego because the people are great, and the surfing is less crowded here. I also find the real estate market to be very interesting here in Baja, with plenty of properties in the $500,000 to over the $1 million mark.

    I need to thank you Larry for all your excellent information and this informative and friendly website. I have really enjoyed learning from all you have to offer.

    I would be happy to answer any questions if I can.


  2. I have seen Mario's work and I have seen the dedication he has put in improving his art. His name is well known in Baja, so much as I'm pretty sure you will have a very hard time looking for a better man for the job when it comes to real estate 360 shots down here.

    Keep it up Mario!

  3. WOW, all i can say is his tour is amazing. I especially like the clarity of the the tours, often in a virtual tour, if you stop it things are hazy or out of focus in spots. His are spot on and solid in sharpness all the way through. I also love the size it really works well to show off the home and helps the viewer really appreciate it, much better than a small 2 inch by 2 inch tours you routinely see.

    My hat is off to you sir, GREAT work, you should be proud. You are also a former/current San Diegan, so that just makes it even better!

  4. Hello,

    I received a question about including hotspots on the rotating/panning image that link one scene to the next, like putting a visible hotspot on a door that the user can click on, to see the room behind that door.

    Yes, it is very possible to set up hotspots to go from one room to the next. In my opinion, there are some pros and cons.

    One of the cons is that hotspots have to be, or should be, visible. I believe that a visible hotspot can take away from the impact of the panning image. It is possible however to set up the interface to turn on and off, meaning to make visible or to hide, hotspots if the client would like.

    Another obstacle with hotspots is that not all rooms connect. So there may be areas of the home that don't link to other areas or rooms. In this case in order to have hotspot links present, I would have to link one room or area to a room or area that is not adjacent to the first, creating a situation that does not correctly present the floor plan, or flow of the home. With this being true, I just prefer to have buttons or links that lead the viewer to a different scene, or area of the property as presented here: (This home however would have been a good candidate for hotspots from room to room as the this courtyard could have been a hub for the whole house.)

    The pros of having hotspots are that you can use it up sell the client, which is a bit selfish actually. Hotspot creation adds to the workflow so I would have to charge a bit more. Another pro of having hotspots is that it gives the user more options on how to navigate through the house. I am sure there are many users that would be encouraged to click to see what is behind door #1, or curtain #2, and to keep them looking at the property longer.


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