Monday, 14 February 2011

More than a bird's eye view

Did an interview with Aram Pan when I was back in Singapore in December. I still remember it was the day I thought I lost my four leave clover necklace! The article spent a month in the queue and finally came out today in the OSP, reproduced below. I couldn't upload a flash video so click on the clicks to get to the actual page.

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More than a bird’s eye view

Would you attach your camera to a kite and let it take flight hundreds of metres into the air?

That’s what VR photographer Aram Pan did one windy day. The result? A beautiful aerial panoramic view of Marina Barrage.

Click this: Marina barrage from the air
Drag your mouse cursor around to explore the view from above!

VR photography stands for “virtual reality” photography – a continuous 360-degree spherical view of photographs.

Aram delved into VR photography back in 2003. He started out piecing together panoramic photos he’d taken during his travels to show his family and friends. His work eventually became a 360-degree presentation.

As the general internet speed back then hadn’t caught up with photography technology, it wasn’t until 2008 that Aram launched the Singapore VR website, featuring the various sights in Singapore. And suddenly, what started out as a personal hobby became a hit with viewers from all over the world. Today, about 50 per cent of his visitors come from outside of Singapore. In fact, a visitor from the US was so enamoured by what he saw that he moved to Singapore for six months to experience life here!

Aram laughs off the grouse of some people that Singapore is boring, and shares his life philosophy, “My cup is half full, not half empty. There are beautiful and interesting things in Singapore if you know where to look.”

So where does Aram get his inspiration?

He shrugs, “Mostly by chance.” He keeps his camera in his car, which comes in handy when he encounters something interesting. He is one curious cat. For instance, what does Zouk look like when there is no one around? How does it feel like when you swap places with a stall owner in a coffee shop?

Besides photographing all over Singapore, Aram also does fun things with objects like a new pair of running shoes “because it has a white interior whereas my past running shoes all had a grey interior.”

View from a shoe: Aram Pan

While it takes no more than a few seconds to take a photograph, stitching a series of photographs into a VR takes a lot more time. The most challenging ones are those involving movement, e.g. the VR of the fireworks at the National Day Parade last year.

“But that is also my favourite,” he beams proudly. “There was so much energy there (at the parade).”

Click this: NDP 2010 fireworks
360-degree bedazzlement of fireworks on National Day

In Aram’s words, “VR photography makes you feel like you are there.”

Indeed, I can’t think of a better way to get a complete view of Singapore. Apart from actually being at home of course.

More of Aram’s work can be viewed at his website:

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