Monday, 11 September, 2017

Inside Iran: 360° images let armchair travelers tour the country


Armchair travellers can now enjoy 360° views of the ruins at Persepolis, and other attractions in Iran, thanks to a photographer’s images of the country.

Willy Kaemena, from Bremen in Germany, created the above panorama of the city, the Persian Empire’s first capital, founded by Darius the Great in 518 BC, following a holiday in April. The photographer worked in Iran 35 years ago – “before, during and after the Revolution” – and wanted to revisit to see how it had changed.

The above image – one of a series taken around Iran (others include Shiraz, Pasagardae and Isfahan) – allows internet users to view up close the columns and stone terrace that make up Persepolis, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1979.

Tripods are not allowed inside the ruins, so Mr Kaemena lifted a monopod and swivelled it to take the four photographs needed to make a panoramic image. He said it took “only a few seconds” to capture the pictures, but that the digital “stitching” afterwards to create the 360° image took up to an hour.

His images - all available to view on his website - are all the more interesting given that Google Street View – which allows internet users to roam the streets of North America and Europe – has not yet captured anywhere in Iran.

Pasagardae, another site captured by the photographer (Willy Kaemena)

Mr Kaemena said he did not encounter any difficulty taking the images, and found himself free to shoot as he pleased. “I had a friend in Iran who sometimes used to be arrested for his photography, but no one paid me any attention or asked any questions,” he added.

Isfahan (Photo: Willy Kaemena)

He said that Persepolis had changed since his first visit to the site in the 1970s: “It is more touristy now – it was more natural back in the 1970s. It is just different.”

Mr Kaemena’s images capture mosques in intricate detal (Photo: Willy Kaemena)

On his seven-day group tour, he also visited mosques, bazaars and bath houses in the famously beautiful city of Isfahan and in Shiraz, renowned for its gardens and as the resting place of Persian poets Hafez and Saadi. He took panoramic shots from the “Towers of Silence” in the desert city of Yazd, which were once used as a perch for dead bodies to be picked apart by birds before the remains were laid to rest.

“The panoramas of the mosques are my favourites as they are just so beautiful,” he said.

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