How to Turn Your Panoramas Into Photographic Planets

By Matthew Braga

It's incredibly simple to turn your photos into something straight out of Super Mario Galaxy — and the results look totally awesome too.

Super Mario Galaxy was perhaps one of the best examples of what a good Wii game could be. It was simple to pick up, a solid Mario platformer, and above all, visually beautiful. Perhaps the coolest parts of the game were the small planets from which Mario jump, flew and ran to, giving the game a unique charm and sense of whimsy that was simply a joy to play. Did we mention that it looked damn cool? 
What's cooler is that you can apply that exact effect to your own photos and panoramas. Perhaps it's a beautiful landscape, or a modest shot of your front lawn — either way, it'll take you less then five minutes to turn that regular old photo into a panoramic planet of your own.

Photoshop or the free alternative GIMP, and of course, a suitable photo. Not just any panorama will make this work, however, so you need to keep a few criteria in mind. An aspect ratio of at least 2:1 will work best, with wider photos looking the most impressive. Because the goal is to create a photographic sphere, a 360 ° panorama is also ideal.
Our test image. 

Depending on the quality of your photo, you might need to touch a few things up. For example, if the horizon of your photo isn't perfectly straight, or you didn't use a full, 360 ° panorama, you might find the point at where the two ends meet is uneven. Use of the clone tool and other masking options can help to clean up the seams, and any colour differences can be equalized as well.
In our case, the final product looks something like this:

Now, get shooting and show us what you can produce!  
Images via Flickr users Schtumple and San Diego Shooter.