Spherical Panoramas by Carel Struycken
April 20, 2012 2:37 PM   Subscribe

As an actor, Carel Struycken is known as Mr. Homn on Star Trek: TNG, Lurch in The Addams Family movie, and The Giant in Twin Peaks, but that is largely his past. Currently, he makes spherical panoramas, and "Picture Bubbles" with Josh Korwin. Struycken also posts his panoramas on 360 Cities.

Both Spherical Panoramas and Picture Bubbles have blogs, which is usually a more informative way to browse the panoramas.
posted by filthy light thief (20 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

I made myself dizzy. In a happy way.
posted by Splunge at 2:42 PM on April 20, 2012

Yeah, making the panorama careen around is a remarkably accurate simulation of being really drunk.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2012

Oh, I love that guy! I just watched the first episode of TNG he was in last week, and I saw him in Twin Peaks last year. Great to know that he's doing this cool artwork as well!
posted by limeonaire at 2:59 PM on April 20, 2012

When I started reading I initially thought that this was going to be an obit post, and my body started going through the startup process for a good, long cry.

In the best of all possible worlds, there is a Star Trek spin-off series about Mr. Homn and Morn from Deep Space Nine living as bickering roommates.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:00 PM on April 20, 2012 [10 favorites]

I hope he knows not to listen to those guys trapped in the books.

Always interesting to read about career changes. How do you make a living off of this? Press photos for companies or tourist boards?
posted by curious nu at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2012

I still can't figure out how they remove the tripod from these shots. I'm pretty sure there has to be some kind of fixed mount to swivel the camera around, but you can look straight up and down and nothing shows up. It must be something clever that stays out of the field of view at all times. And it's got to be fast, because this definitely isn't a static scene.

Pretty neat technique. And some of those spaces are really beautiful.
posted by figurant at 3:03 PM on April 20, 2012

Actually, they've managed to remove the camera itself from this shot. It's probably very clever stitching and after-the-fact image manipulation, but my money's on witchcraft.
posted by figurant at 3:09 PM on April 20, 2012

In the best of all possible worlds, there is a Star Trek spin-off series about Mr. Homn and Morn from Deep Space Nine living as bickering roommates.

Always giving each other the silent treatment over various slights, but everyone else remarking on how damned loud they are when they go at it hammer and tongs.
posted by codswallop at 3:20 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm with Parasite Unseen. I'm very happy this isn't an obit.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:20 PM on April 20, 2012

The Spherical Panoramas blog mentions the Nodal Ninja 3 MKII, which is reviewed and used in detail here, including how to photograph a complete sphere and omit your camera equipment.

As for the speed of capturing live crowds, I can only guess that he took enough photos and spent enough time to be able to stitch people seamlessly.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:26 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Incidentally, the actor who played Lurch in the TV series (Ted Cassidy was also in Star Trek. The guy really was huge.
posted by Flunkie at 3:30 PM on April 20, 2012

I've liked him ever since I knew he contributed Feodora to the Witches of Eastwick soundtrack.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:54 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

filthy light thief: Bah, that takes all the mystery out of it. I was imagining a more refined version of this. Still a really neat technique though, and it must take incredible skill and patience to make everything come together so flawlessly.

Learning how it's done, I think I appreciate these even more.
posted by figurant at 4:19 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay, so this is basically so great
posted by spiderskull at 4:50 PM on April 20, 2012

"Thanks for the drinks."
posted by cjorgensen at 5:46 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I loved how in The Witches of Eastwick, he sits down at a little piano and plays a very interesting waltz. Which he wrote himself. Now, that's a character actor.
posted by sneebler at 5:58 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let me tell you as someone who's done it, under immense pressure (it was a frickin' photography museum being documented for a newspaper at a photography school), architectural photography is about as hard a discipline in photography as there is.

Problem One - it's a great big three-dimensional thing, meant to be experienced by human beings who can look here and there and everywhere, and piece together an impression of the space just by standing there. A camera is a little bitty scrap of light-sensitive material that has to stay really, really still for a few moments to "see" something.

Problem Two - You are representing someone else's art in a collaboration, yet neither of you can actually collaborate. You have to interpret what the architect meant, while bringing your own vision and perception to the work.

Problem Three - The lighting sucks. You have great big, bright windows with beautiful landscaping outside of them. You have charcoal fabric wall coverings. You have mirror-finish stone floors. You have elaborately burled fixtures and brightly colored furniture. You have dozens of hallogen track lights, and dozens of framed works of art, some of them covered with very reflective glass, some not. You have an ethereally glowing chandelier. All. In. The. Same. Shot.

Problem Four - Three Dimensional Space is trying to kill you. The architect loves graceful horizontal curves and sweeping vertical lines. Your two dimensional camera is doing its best to foreshorten all of it into a distorted squiggle about as elegant as an elephant turd. Break out the view camera! Tilt! Shift! Yaw! Now it looks boring, and about as exciting as notepaper-flavored tapioca pudding.

So. There I am, trying to figure out where to put the view-camera, a gigantic piece of rube-goldberg equipment that takes a piece of film the size of a post-card, where I can minimize distortion while emphasizing the space and wonder of the place, and I say: screw it. I sign out a fish-eye for my Nikon FA from the school equipment store, set up a tripod in the middle of the place aimed straight up, and spend three hours in the darkroom burning and dodging the hell out of that print.

As someone who's done all that... Struycken is really fucking good at what he does. Beautiful exposure range, never washed out or blacked out, and he clearly knows his subjects better than their architects - the place he chooses to stand, the way he chooses to see - that shit is beautiful. Plus... it moves. I think he could rightly call himself a film-maker if he chose, but I'm proud he thinks of himself as a photographer. So much harder to do, to keep the exposure and vision intact, when you can view in all directions. There is a fuckton of work involved in these... and it appears as if there was none, as if it was your own eye seeing. Sign of a master.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:04 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

One and the same... (SPOILER!!)

"TPA: Before the last episode did you know that the Giant and Hank Worden’s Room Service Waiter were one and the same?

CS: No, I didn’t know. And it may be that he (Lynch) only decided that on the last episode. The whole shoot happened in one very long night. I remember a 24 hour shoot and learning my lines backwards at three in the morning. Little Mike, he can read something and say it backwards in real time, so he helped everyone and became our backwards dialogue coach."

24-hr shoot? wow.
posted by marienbad at 8:42 AM on April 21, 2012

I've got good news. That gum you like is going to come back in style.
posted by borborygmi at 10:23 AM on April 21, 2012

Ooooh. had never visited 360 cities with an iPad before... there goes my night.
posted by Kabanos at 5:43 PM on April 21, 2012

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