Little Planets


In the spirit of my favorite Playstation game of all time, LittleBigPlanet, I present the Little Planets Photography assignment.  After all, we can’t all be Sackboys…..

The Little Planet is a pretty neat effect that’s much easier to achieve than you’d think.  You just have to make sure that you do a couple of things while you’re shooting your panorama and then apply a couple of filters and crops in Photoshop.

From start to finish, the project should only take an hour to complete.  Fun?  Check.  Simple?  Check.  Epic?  Check.


  1. Students will create and shoot two little planets.
  2. Read this post on creating your little planet.
  3. Make sure you follow the principles of shooting correct panoramas:
    1. Shoot in Manual mode to ensure exposure is consistent.
    2. Shoot with a Manual focus.
    3. Use a tripod.
    4. Use small apertures (f/16 – f/22)
  4. Take note of the special instructions for shooting a panorama with the intention of turning it into a Little Planet:
    1. The bottom part of your image (25% or so) should have very little detail because it will become the most distorted.  A road, grass or snow work best.
    2. The top part of your image (25% or so) should be all sky.  This will really aid in the blending process.
    3. The horizon line should be relatively straight and the elements on either side of the panorama should be fairly similar.  The left and right side of your image will join together so you need to ensure that the horizon line is straight and the elements will be able to matchup.  You are afforded some leeway with Photoshop, but getting it right in the camera is always best.  Remember, don’t rely on Photoshop for mistakes, but rather for enhancements. 
  5. Sign out a camera and tripod.  Shoot a series of 10 or more portrait photos for each Little Planet composition.
  6. Upload the images to your Photography 20 folder in a new folder titled, “Little Planets”.
  7. Watch the video, “Creating Little Planets” and create your own.
  8. Create a folder titled, “lastname_littleplanets”.  Ensure that both little planets inside the folder are named properly: lastname_littleplanet, and lastname_littleplanet2.
  9. Hand in on Google Drive.
Little Planets from Stephen Pottage on Vimeo.

And finally, an example of what you shouldn’t do:

The image on the left is the result of multiple mistakes.  Can you spot them?

The first and most obvious is that the photographer shot his/her panorama in either AV or TV mode.  How do we know this?  The exposure isn’t consistent.  The sky colour has changed from one image to the next.  You have to ensure that you are shooting in Manual mode and keeping your exposure the same from frame to frame.

The second mistake was not ensuring that the left and right sides of the frame don’t match up with similar elements.  The photographer started his/her shots with houses on the far left side of the frame (check just to the right of the vertical line) and then finished with a field on the right side.  No matter how much time you spend in Photoshop, trying to blend a house and field just aren’t going to work.

So now that you know what you should and shouldn’t do to create your Little Planet, get out there and create!