Fun with Polar Coordinates

20 04 2011

As a photographer, Photoshop is an integral part of my workflow. Most of my work on it is very simple.

Curves adjustments, sharpening and some dodging and burning.

Sometimes, it takes a bit more than that and I start using it like a power user. For example, I wanted to try and punch up an portrait I took in Sri Lanka over 4 years ago by emulating the work of Dragan.

Processed before and after

Processed before and after

This took about 10 minutes to get the right result I wanted and I am very impressed with it.

Photoshop has a ton of filters that you can use to create that certain look. Since it is also for designers, there are a bunch of filters that I just don’t use as a photographer. One of those is Polar Coordinates. What it does is alter the coordinates of the image from rectangular to polar. You can read the full description here. Here’s what the filter does to this photo:

On a gokart

On a gokart

This one has the filter set to Rectangular to Polar. Notice how it wraps the photo around a central point. More on that later.

Rectangular to Polar

Rectangular to Polar

The last example is set to Polar to Rectangular.

Polar to Rectangular

Polar to Rectangular

The second altered photo is completely unusable but the first, if the right side connected to the left side, it would make for a pretty funky looking photo. Then I got to thinking about panoramic photography.
So I tried it out and this is what I got after about 10 minutes of fiddling.

Panorama of Plaza Vieja in Havana using Polar Coordinates

Panorama of Plaza Vieja in Havana using Polar Coordinates

Looks pretty cool but it’s a bit uneven for me so I went and looked around for a more uniform panorama and found one from a recent trip to Phu Quoc, Vietnam.

Desert beach in Phu Quoc orb using Polar Coordinates

Desert beach in Phu Quoc orb using Polar Coordinates

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

A few tips if you want to try this. The image size has to be square. It will look wierd when you constrain the image but it will turn out in the end as the image will be restretched when the filter is applied. Also, make sure you flip the image vertically or what you get will be an image that turns in instead of out. Which is another photo in itself.

Hope you enjoyed reading this!




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