Dare to be different

Dare to be different

Miniature World

Would you dare to be different?

Once upon a time in a land far far away was a company that wanted to be different, they wanted to stand out from all the rest, they were prepared to dare to be different.

In business we all make decisions on how we will shape our business, will you be like everyone else in your industry, will you follow the usual path and be no better or worse than all the rest?  Or will you dare to be different? do things your way stand out from the rest be known for being different.

Standing out from the crowd is a risk, you are saying to people come and look at me we are good at what we do we go further than the rest, we have nothing to hide, we give you what you need to make an informed decision, we dare to be different.

One company that has dared to be different is Newport Caravan Centre, a company that wants to give customers a better experience, a better way of buying.

They are planning on having 360 degree virtual tours of all their preowned caravans next year, giving customers the best possible buying experience.

Below you can see a sample tour of one of their mobile homes, this allows clients to do a complete walk through from the comfort of their home, allowing them to choose their perfect caravan or mobile home before visiting the showroom.

 

Check Newport Caravans Centre website and watch the changes over the coming months.

Virtual tours are the perfect way to stand out from your competitors, but only if you want to be known for being different, only if you want to stand out from the crowd.  So ask yourself one question.  Do you dare to be different?

For more examples of people who want to be different, check out my virtual tour page. Dare to be different

Cold Calling

COLD CALLING

Love it or hate it cold calling is here to stay.  Now although cold calling can be a little annoying to a point I can put up with it, although why do they always call when you are just about to sit down to tea?

I don’t agree with being rude to cold callers, but there is only so many times and so many ways you can tell the same person you are not interested in there services.  I’ve told the same person probably 20 or 30 times that my walls are already insulated, but every few weeks he still calls me, he explains how this is not a cold calling call as it’s a survey, George from India if you are reading this, sorry but it really is a cold call and again MY WALLS ARE ALREADY INSULATED.

Automated Cold Calling

As stated previously cold calling is her to stay.  I’m in business and occasionally I have to cold call people, I accept this is part of life.  But I’m sorry when I get those automated cold calls that’s just one step too far.  You pick up the phone and you get a recorded message explaining why you should press one to speak to someone about PPI or a new boiler scheme.  If you are going to cold call please at least speak to someone.  Does automated cold calling really work?  I just think this is the ultimate in laziness.  Why would anyone buy anything from a recorded message?  At least if someone calls you you can have a conversation about the products or services they are trying to sell you, it’s getting more and more difficult to actually speak to someone on the phone.  So for any company that wants to cold call me, please do it in person, not via a recorded message.

 

Christmas Image

Christmas Image

Christmas Image

Snow scenes always make for a great Christmas image.  The image above is one of my favorite images, it was taken a few years ago at Beechwood house just on the outskirts of Newport.  The image is a complete 360 degree image of the outside of the house and grounds.

I love going out with the camera when the snow is down, I’ve always thought of turning some of my snow images into Christmas cards and calendars, but I never seem to get around to doing it.  Although Beechwood park now has a committee setup to help raise money to regenerate the park, one of the plans is to take photos of the park at various times of the year, they will then turn the best of those into Christmas cards and calendars ready for next Christmas.  So next year you may have the opportunity to buy some of the great images taken throughout the park next year.  It’s a great park and if you can catch it at the right time of day you can get some fantastic images of sunrises and sunsets, the light in the park is truly amazing.

For your own images if you ever look at creating cards and calendars it’s worth approaching local shops to sell some of your products, shops love selling local scenes, it not only brings in the extra money, but it’s also a great way of advertising the local area.   And if the images are good enough you could try advertising them on some of the stock image sites, another great way of making a little extra money and getting your work known.

So when the snow comes down don’t stay at home in the warm, put an extra jumper on, get your camera ready and get out and take some great images of the snow, best of luck.

Panoramic Images

Panoramic images

Caerphilly Miners old ward

Panoramic Images

Panoramic images are a great way of displaying a scene, be it indoors or outdoors.  The image above is part of a series of  360 Panoramic Images taken at the old Caerphilly Miners Hospital.  It displays a complete 360 image of one of the old wards at the hospital.  The images where taken before work commenced at the hospital to renovate the premises, it will eventually be a community center.  All the Panoramic images taken at the site where later turned into 360 degree virtual tours.  The image above is made up of 24 images stitched together to create the Panoramic Images.

 

Panoramic Images

Flooded Caerleon

Caerleon

The image above is an outdoor scene from the Home Farm area of Caerleon, this was taken when the area was flooded earlier in the year.  The image is again created using a series of 24 images just like the hospital ward image above.  The distortion effect is created on purpose, this is because the image will be used in a 360 virtual tour.

School Gymnasium

Panoramic Images

This is one of my favourit indoor Panoramic Images, It’s bright with lots of equipment, for a school Gym it’s extremely well equipped, it was never like this when I was in school.

But Panoramic Images can be used in all sorts of situations, as above with both indoor and outdoor scenes.  They also make exceptionally good images for banner images for the top of pages.  Lots of my clients use the images I create as a heading across the top of their web pages.

If you would like more information about how to create 360 degree Panoramic Images send me an email and I will send you details.

Are all Virtual tours the same?

Are all Virtual tours the same?

Are all virtual tours the same

There are subtle differences:

Apart from the difference in formats are all virtual tours the same?  If you look quickly at different virtual tours from different photographers you could be forgiven in thinking that all virtual tours are the same, but they are most definitely not.

  

If you look at the two tours above they are exactly the same tour, but there are subtle differences in both tours.  Before continuing to read have a play around with the tours above and see if you can spot the differences?  Are all virtual tours the same?

Are all virtual tours the same?

If you had a play with the tours above hopefully you will have notices a couple of differences?  The tour on the left is a full tour, that means you can view over the top of the tour and see the ceiling, you can also view below the normal tour and see the floor.  With the tour on the right, this is a normal tour by that I mean this is the type of tour most photographers will present to you.  You have a limited field of view.  You cannot see all the ceiling or all the floor.  This difference in view may not be a lot but it can make a big difference to how customers see your premises.

But the big difference with these tours is the distortion, if you look along the floor line you will notice that with the tour on the left the floor lines remain square, so the bath the doors etc. are always square.  If you look at the floor lines on the tour on the right the lines are distorted.  This is a simple enough issue to resolve but so few photographers do, I see many virtual tours with this kind of distortion.

And the one thing that nobody ever asks is what format with the tours be?  If the tours are being done in flash then people using ipads/iphones will not be able to see your tours, the only real option for virtual tours is html, this will give you the best coverage across all platforms.  So are all virtual tours the same?  You judge for yourselves.

Training Aid

Training aid tour

Virtual tour training aid

You may not have thought of using a 360 virtual tour as a training aid, but using virtual tours can make a big difference to your training.  If you want to try this click the image above and find the three hazards.

I was recently approached by a training company who wanted to use the tours as a safety training aid, the idea being we set up a series of hazards within a factory before we photograph the tour.  When the tour is compiled we then add additional links into the tour, so when someone clicks on a suspected hazard more information will popup.  This could be in the form of a text box, a picture or even a link to another website giving even more information about that hazard.

Additional benefits

Doing this type of tour doesn’t just work as a training aid it can also be used as a test to see if you could benefit from a course.  Imagine if you had a tour with 10 hazards set within the tour.  You could then use it to test peoples awareness and standard of competency.  So if someone found all then hazards they don’t need your training course.  If they scored between 6 and 8 you might need a refresher course, if you found less than 5 you need to take a complete course.

Also as a training aid if people are interacting with the tour they are more likely to take in the information, it’s a much more effective way of training than just watching a video.  It’s also a very cost effective way of training, with prices for these training aid tours starting form just £180 it’s much cheaper than you would expect.

To receive more information just send me an email and I would be happy to discuss the various options available. Use this contact form.

 

Pack Shots

Leather bag pack shot

Pack shots what are they?

A pack shot is basically another name for a product photography photo.  this could be a single pack shot or multiple photos.  if you are going to commission product photography shots it’s worth doing your homework before appointing your photographer.

Generally the more products you have to photography the cheaper you can get your pack shots done per item.  The cost will generally be dependant on the size of the item, how difficult it will be to photograph and whether or not the items need to be suspended.

White on White

Doll Photography Pack Shot

One of the most difficult pack shots is any product that is white, a white product on a white background is difficult to get right.  Like any photography there are tricks of the trade to enable you to get these pack shots done.  But if you are going to get items like this photographed make sure you ask the photographer if he has done this work before.  I’ve seen some very poor attempts at achieving these shots, so always ask to see other white on white pack shots the photographer has done before you commission them.  In the long run this could save you from a very expensive mistake.

Wine

wine product photography pack shot

Spanish Wine

Wine is another difficult pack shot to achieve you have to look at the different reflections on the bottle, I like to shot these shots with a light running down the side of the bottle, this is used to represent a window light, although in fact it is a light off to the side with a softbox attached.  Many people would put an object like this inside a light tent, but this produces a very flat image, not the best for a good quality pack shot.

3 reasons not to use virtual tours?

3 Reasons why you should not use 360 virtual tours

I’m a photographer and I specialise in 360 degree virtual tours, below are 10 reasons why you should not use virtual tours for your website or blogs.

(1)

  • You cannot see virtual tours on ipads, or iphones?
  • The above statement is perfectly true……. and also completely false.  There are three main formats used when compiling virtual tours, Flash, Quicktime and HTML and depending on which format you choose the above statement could be true or false.
  • Flash is the most versatile of the three formats, but it cannot be used on apple devices, so my advice is DON’T USE FLASH.
  • Quicktime is not a particular favourite of mine for many reasons, but the main problem with quicktime is if you don’t already have a quicktime player on your device then before you can play the tour you have to download it.  Most people will not do that so your tour is not viewed.
  • HTML if you haven’t guessed by now this is my favorite format, and the main format that I use.  HTML can be used across platforms and doesn’t require any download.

(2)

  • Video can include music and voice-overs so Video is the better choice?
  • I have nothing against video and indeed I believe video is a brilliant marketing tool, and I think video lives well side by side with virtual tours.  But Music and voice-overs can also be added to virtual tours making them just as versatile as video.

(3)

  • Virtual tours are expensive?
  • Virtual tours are expensive compared to what?  I’ve endeavoured to make my pricing as straight forward as possible.  There’s a setup fee of £100 then £80 per tour, so for a five room virtual tour it would be £500.  Is that really expensive when you consider what you get?

360 software

360 software image

Angel Inn

 

360 software is so versatile

When you commission a 360 degree virtual tour you don’t have to settle for a standard tour.  360 software is so versatile you can let your imagination run wild.

Apart from the standard tours 360 software allows you to add many extra features.  As well as audio files and floor plans by adding a few extra features you can turn your virtual tours into a much more useful tool.

Training tour

Recently I was giving a talk on 360 photography at a local networking group.  after the meeting I was approached by a gentleman who wanted to know more about the different ways the 360 software could be used.  He was putting together a training program for a local factory.  After seeing my presentation he had an idea of how it could possibly be used within his training program.  The idea was simple he had an idea of using the 360 software to create a tour but he wanted even more interactivity than usual, he wanted people to be able to click on possible hazards and a message pop up giving more detail, even linking out to further information.  Also if they clicked on something that was not a hazard it would also tell them they where wrong.  360 software allows this and much more, we can customise the software to your needs, there are many ways of achieving the effects you require.

Skins

Every tour has a skin added to the tour, this skin holds the control buttons but can also include so much more.  Every skin within the 360 software can be customised, or even designed from scratch.  Customising the skins means you can add whatever you want to the skin, you can even add features that can be hidden until you click on something within the tour.  Images, text boxes, links or even a logo can all be hidden until you want them revealed, this allows us to have some great fun with how we develop your tours.

To see examples of 360 virtual tour visit Virtual tours

The only drawback  is your own imagination.  If you can imagine it let us create it.

Free Software

When is software Free Software?

It’s always nice to receive something for free, and Free Software is great, but having a version of software and getting a crack code for the software isn’t Free Software, it’s illegal software.

But why should we care? If we are getting the software for free then that’s all that matters, or is it?

Do you want to get paid for your work?

Whatever you do for a living would you like to get paid for your work? or are you happy to work for free?  What if you owned a shop, would you be happy to say give every 10th customer all their goods for free?  If someone is stealing from you I’m sure you would not be happy with it, but that’s what you are doing when you use illegal software.

Victimless crime?

Stealing software (Free Software) is a victimless crime?  The software is available to download as a trial for free, just because I obtain an illegal code it doesn’t really effect the company does it.  Developers have to employ people, they pay rent, rates and have to bear all the costs of developing the software you want to use.  So if everyone used their Free Software illegally then the developer goes out of business, and the software you like using so much no longer exists.  So in the end the victim in the crime that you are happy to commit is you.

Recently I was advised to download a certain software to use on my website, the software is very good and free.  No it isn’t, the Free Software is only free for personal use, if you are a business it costs money.  I was advised to play the ignorance card and just pretend you didn’t know it wasn’t free.  Needless to say I decided not to use the software, I wasn’t happy to pay for the software so I wasn’t prepared to use it.