This time, we interviewed Dave, a THETA photographer who captures and edits amazing photos of nature and the city with his THETA V. We asked him about his fun experiences with 360 degree cameras and the tricks he uses for editing.
Photography life with THETA.
Please introduce yourself and let us know about your hobby and family life?
Hello! My name is Dave Hohisel and I’m 40 years old. I currently reside in Big Bend which is a small town just south of Milwaukee. I’ve lived in Wisconsin most of my life, and can’t really think of anywhere else I would’ve wanted to grow up and live.
I have many hobbies which include geology, a huge collection of Star Wars collectibles, and of course photography which kind of just happened by chance. When I was younger I did a lot of drawing and painting, but I have found photography has really brought my creative side back out.
I met my wife Becky almost 8 years ago, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Becky has always encouraged my photography and is my biggest fan. We have a seven year old pit bull mix dog named Jax, and are in the process of trying to expand our family.
What is photography to you?
Photography is definitely a release for me. It’s one of the few things I can do that completely takes my mind off of everything else in the world. I started photography as a hobby three years ago, and never thought it would be such a big part of my life. I tend to take photos whenever I find a subject or area that I find interesting. Sometimes I shoot daily, and other times it could be once a week. I prefer shooting in the city and nature. I feel these two areas give me the best subject matters.
I also shoot a lot of random shots that I find interesting. I use a variation of cameras including my Canon, phone, and of course several different 360 cameras. I generally shoot with whatever I have handy, but there are scenarios I will use a specific camera for. I think as a photographer you just know this will look great as a close up, or this will make a great 360 image. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of pictures that just won’t work.
A photo taken by Dave
How did you find out about THETA?
THETA was actually the second 360 camera I ever owned. I started with an Insta360 nano, which is really a primitive camera by today’s standards even though it’s only a couple years old. I started to see different editing styles and capabilities of other 360 cameras on the market, and knew I needed an upgrade to step up my photo taking abilities.
We have a pretty close 360 community, so I started asking fellow photographers their opinions and thoughts on other cameras. THETA S was definitely the center of many conversations, but I still did a lot of research and comparisons on the internet. THETA’s photo taking ability and the fact it had a built in SD card helped, but the price point was the deciding factor. I’m not the type to spend a lot of money on a camera I knew nothing about. I was really pleased with the purchase, and after using it I realized I had the right tool for the job.
Why did you select THETA from among several 360 degree cameras in the market?
As I stated earlier I have several different brands of 360 cameras. I originally owned the THETA S but was upgraded to a THETA V through a contest, and a once in a lifetime trip. They all have some different capabilities, but the general operations are similar. All the cameras have the ability to shoot photos and video. I shoot only photos because video has really never interested me. The THETA V offers 4K resolution so, if you are into video, it definitely would be a great camera. One of the main reasons my THETA is my go to camera is its size and portability. Yes, all the cameras are compact, but the THETA V just fits right in my back pocket.
I also believe that THETA is a great night time camera with its built in HDR capabilities it takes great night shots. The only other one I own that is comparable for night shots is my Xiaomi, but there is quite a price difference between the two. I feel the photos taken with the Theta are more natural looking than those shot on an Insta360 One, or the Samsung Gear 360 (2017). THETA cameras really launched me into photography, and will always be my first choice.
You can set the HDR mode on the RICOH THETA app.
<Comparison – Auto vs HDR>
Do you feel it is easy for you to use?
Of all my 360 cameras that I own I definitely feel that THETA and it’s companion app are the easiest to use. I actually do most of my editing with all my 360 cameras photos in the THETA app.
I’ve had several connectivity issues with the other brands’ cameras, but my THETA V connects every time. If you’re not really tech savvy you want to be able to connect to your phone to transfer pictures without the hassle of trying to figure out why your camera won’t connect. I believe it’s the easiest and most straightforward app to use for 360 photography. Switching between photo / video mode and other features like the self timer and shooting modes is really simple as well.
THETA also offer quite a few unique plugins that are easily accessed by connecting your phone and selecting the desired plugin.
What is your favorite plug-in?
The two plugins I use most are time shift shooting and self timer locked.
Time shift shooting is the easiest way to get yourself out of the shot. You will need to use a monopod or a selfie stick on a mini tripod along with the self timer to achieve this shot. Of course there are other ways to take yourself out of the shot*, like using the healing function in Lightroom or Photoshop. Depending on the pattern of the ground you are standing on, it’s not always the easiest way to remove yourself. It can become blurry and distorted if you are not careful.
*Please have a look at this blog to learn about easy ways to take yourself out of a 360 degree shot.
I’ve been a big fan of the self timer because it always allows you time to set up the shot, and get yourself into position. With the self timer locked plugin you don’t have to hold buttons down when turning on the camera to achieve this function. These two are the perfect companion plugins in my opinion.
Your most memorable and the best 360 degree images…
What is your most memorable photo?
To me this photo embodies Japanese culture to the fullest. Bright lights, music, and crowds of people enjoying every minute of life. This was taken in May of 2019 during our trip to Tokyo, and one of my favorite moments. The Robot Restaurant is located in Shinjuku, one of many bustling districts in the city of Tokyo. It’s one show you have to see in person, and will forever be a cherished moment from our trip.
I have about six different edits to this picture because it could be manipulated in so many ways. The lighting and the vibe of this district just helped make this one of my favorite pictures and edits.
What a cool shot! Although there are so many edited 360 degree photos on Instagram, I have not seen this type of edit very often. Your style is very unique!
<Original 360 degree image>
Can you show us your best photo too?
This shot is from my 40th birthday weekend over Labor Weekend 2019. It was taken at Sand Dunes park on Washington Island, which is a small island off the peninsula or Door County Wisconsin. The entire island is surrounded by Lake Michigan and a beautiful beach just in general. This was our last stop on the island. You have to walk down a small path to get to the beach and at the end it just opens up to the lake. I just remember being in complete awe of my surroundings.
Setting up the shot was rather easy seeing as the beach wasn’t too crowded. Just like in regular photography your position where you take the shot can be rather critical. It’s definitely one of the most memorable moments from the trip because of my surroundings and company that was present with me.
Do you have any tips when you shoot 360 degree images?
The best tip I could give anyone shooting 360 is to use a selfie stick or attach the camera to a mini tripod. Try holding the camera in different positions, there’s really no wrong way to hold the camera unless it’s in your hand. Just like with regular photography the subject or area can matter immensely. You just really have to experiment with shooting styles, and have fun while you are doing it.
Your favorite edited 360 degree images…
What is your most favorite image that you edited?
This photo was taken in the Ginza district of Tokyo. We spent a fair amount of time here, seeing as our hotel was a short walk away. This is another photo I had taken with an almost endless amount of editing options.
<Original 360 degree image>
WOW! This is totally different from the edited one! How did you edit it?
There’s actually several steps in editing a photo like this. You have to start with the equirectangular photo which is just a stitched version of your 360 photo. After this I load the image into a panorama stitching program where I can manipulate the photo. Obviously I’m not going to give away all the secrets, but there are a few stitching programs to choose from. You will also need a very powerful computer or laptop to do this style of editing. After manipulating the photo I do the post editing in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. I prefer Lightroom because I feel I can really set the tone and mood for a photo much better. 360 photography really has no limits to whichever editing style you choose.
Do you have another favorite photo you edited?
This is one of my more unique shots and definitely a favorite. About a year or so into photography is when I really started getting creative with my editing style.
What is happening in the image?!
This is an inverted planet layered over a tiny planet and was made using Photoshop Mix. A lot of these layered photos are trial and error. Sometimes you can use the same picture and other times two separate shots are needed. In this particular edit it looks as though a pearl is emerging from a shedding earth. This was taken at Copper Peak in the Upper Peninsula of Ironwood Michigan. On a clear day on top of the ski jump you can see Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and parts of Canada. The top of the ski jump is 469 feet high and overlooks 2,500 square miles.
<Original 360 degree image>
Thank you for sharing your beautiful work!
Do you recommend any editing apps other than the THETA+ app?
Yes, Gear 360, Photoshop, and Lightroom.
Do you use accessories with your THETA?
I generally use a selfie stick and a mini tripod** every time I shoot 360. These two tools really help me set up the shot. Depending on the position of the selfie stick you can really manipulate your surroundings much better, or if I’m using the tripod and can generally get myself completely out of the shot. If I’m not using the self timer function I’ll use a Bluetooth shutter remote. The remote is small enough that it’s not seen, and it doesn’t put you in an awkward position for the shot.
**Please have a look at this blog to learn about easy and creative tripod or selfie stick shooting techniques which let you have fun in new ways with your THETA 360-degree camera.
Do you have any final comments？
There are really no rules for 360 photography. You need to go out and shoot. Just like in regular photography you’re going to make mistakes, but as long as you’re enjoying it that’s all that matters. I never imagined I would be creating images like this, or be given the opportunities I’ve had just by taking photos. I am truly grateful for all of these.
We are glad to hear that you enjoy our product and appreciate that you shared some useful tips to shoot and edit 360 images!
Interviewee: Dave Hohisel