Enjoy Dazzling & Dizzying 360° Virtual Tours of Los Angeles Landmarks

Remem­ber when arm­chair trav­el meant a book, a mag­a­zine, a hand­ful of post­cards, or the occa­sion­al after-din­ner slideshow of the neigh­bors’ vaca­tion pho­tos?

Those were the days.

The throngs of trav­el “influ­encers”—both pro­fes­sion­al and aspirant—have tak­en much of the fun out of liv­ing through oth­ers’ vis­its to far-flung locales. The focus seems to have shift­ed from imag­in­ing our­selves in their shoes to feel­ing oppressed by their high­ly-staged, heav­i­ly-fil­tered Insta­gram-per­fect exis­tence.

Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Jim New­ber­ry’s daz­zling, dizzy­ing 360° pho­tos of Los Ange­les, like the views of Echo Park, Chi­na­town, East L.A., and Down­town, above, offer arm­chair trav­el­ers trans­porta­tion back to those gid­dy pre-influ­encer days.

(Angeli­nos and oth­er LA-versed vis­i­tors will enjoy swoop­ing through City of Angels land­marks as if rotat­ing on the no-par­al­lax point, too.)

The Chica­go trans­plant admits that it took a while for him to find his Los Ange­les groove:

After being dis­abused of my Mid­west­ern, anti‑L.A. views, I’ve found that the city has much more to offer than I had imag­ined, but the gems of Los Ange­les often don’t reveal them­selves read­i­ly; it takes a bit of leg­work to seek out the best spots, and well worth it. Moun­tains, beach­es, vibrant urban life, tons of muse­ums, gor­geous nature.

While easy-to-use “one-shot” 360 cam­eras exist, New­ber­ry prefers the qual­i­ty afford­ed by using a high-res­o­lu­tion non-360 cam­era with a wide angle lens, mount­ed on a panoram­ic tri­pod head that rotates it in such a way as to pre­vent per­spec­tive errors.

With the equip­ment set up in the cen­ter of the room, he shoots four pho­tos, spaced 90° apart. Anoth­er shot is aimed direct­ly down­ward toward the floor.

Panoram­ic soft­ware helps to stitch the images togeth­er for a “spher­i­cal panora­ma,” giv­ing view­ers an expe­ri­ence that’s the dig­i­tal equiv­a­lent of swivel­ing their heads in awe.

Newberry’s rov­ing lens turns Lee Lawrie’s Zodi­ac Chan­de­lierDean Cornwell’s Cal­i­for­nia his­to­ry murals, and the dec­o­ra­tive ceil­ing sten­cils of the Cen­tral Pub­lic Library’s Grand Rotun­da into a gor­geous kalei­do­scope.

The Taoist Thien Hau Tem­ple in Chi­na­town is a more recent attrac­tion, found­ed in the 1980s in a for­mer Chris­t­ian church. Com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers raised funds to build the larg­er tem­ple, above, ded­i­cat­ing it in 2006 as a shrine to Mazu, the god­dess of the sea, pro­tec­tor of fish­er­man and sailors.

The Muse­um of Juras­sic Tech­nol­o­gy, a self-described “edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion ded­i­cat­ed to the advance­ment of knowl­edge and the pub­lic appre­ci­a­tion of the Low­er Juras­sic,” served as Newberry’s point of entry, when man­age­ment okayed his request to shoot 360° pho­tos there:

It’s a very spe­cial place—my panoram­ic pho­tos are no match for an in-per­son vis­it. Unlike many oth­er muse­ums these days, the Muse­um of Juras­sic Tech­nol­o­gy does­n’t nor­mal­ly allow pho­tog­ra­phy, and there’s not many pho­tos of the place to be found. 

(In return for per­mis­sion to shoot the museum’s Fau­na of Mir­rors murals, rooftop court­yard, and Tula Tea Room, New­ber­ry agreed to main­tain its mys­te­ri­ous aura by lim­it­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of those pho­tos to his Panoram­ic Eye site. Feast your eyes here.)

The pho­tog­ra­ph­er is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with more muse­ums, cre­at­ing 3‑dimensional doc­u­men­ta­tion of exhibits.

His inter­est in the ephemer­al has also spurred him to cre­ate vir­tu­al tours of local land­marks on the verge of being torn down. Entries in the ongo­ing Lost Land­marks series include Los Feliz’s Good Luck Bar (RIP), Tom Bergin’s Pub (above, spared at the last minute when the Los Ange­les Con­ser­van­cy declared it an His­toric-Cul­tur­al Mon­u­ment), and the Alpine Vil­lage, cur­rent­ly for sale in neigh­bor­ing Tor­rance.

Begin your explo­rations of Jim Newberry’s Panoram­ic Eye 360° vir­tu­al tours of Los Ange­les, includ­ing the Grif­fith Park Obser­va­to­rythe St. Sophia Cathe­dral, and the Every­thing Is Ter­ri­ble! store here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a 360° Vir­tu­al Tour of Tal­iesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Per­son­al Home & Stu­dio

Take a 360 Degree Tour of Minia­ture Mod­els of Famous Land­marks: From the Taj Mahal to The Great Wall of Chi­na

Five Cul­tur­al Tours of Los Ange­les

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the author of sev­en books, includ­ing No Touch Mon­key! And Oth­er Trav­el Lessons Learned Too Lateand the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 9 for anoth­er sea­son of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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