Making a Little World in Photoshop

Minneapolis Little World

Minneapolis “Little World”

I’ve been watching some great videos at and saw a couple by Ben Long in his “The Practicing Photographer” series. There were two videos and the first outlined how to shoot for a pano, and what to look for in a scene. The second video showed how to stitch three frames together in Photoshop for a panorama, and then went on with instructions to create the “Little World”. Since it was only ten degrees outside with patches of dirty snow everywhere, I looked on my hard drive to see if I already had something that would work. You want to start with an image with objects poking up above the horizon and that will be twice as wide as it is high.   In a perfect world, the borders on the right and left sides will have matching subject matter and tones. The photo I started with did not fulfill that criteria, but I decided to give it a try, anyway.

How to

1. Open the cropped image in Photoshop. If your image layer is titled “Background” you will have to double-click the layer and let the dialog rename the layer to “Layer 0”.  I get a kick out of how Photoshop will not allow you to do a lot of things to the layer named “Background”, but if you hit the trash can in the bottom of the layers pallet, it is gone without warning.

2. Not all filters will run on 16-bit images, so go to the Image menu and choose “Mode”. If your image is 16-bit, change it to 8-bit so that the filter you need to apply can be used.

3. Go to the Image menu again and choose Image Size. In the dialog, toggle off the lock that maintains the aspect ratio and in the width dimension, enter the same number as the height dimension. Whether you are using pixels or inches doesn’t matter, but getting the height and width dimensions the same does . Check “Resample”, choose “Bicubic Sharper” and click OK. The result will be a square image and will be squished in on the sides.

4. Go to the Edit menu and choose “Transform”.  In the sub-menu, choose “Rotate 180 degrees”.  The squished image will be up-side-down.  That’s good.

5. The last step is to go to the Filter menu, and choose “Distort” and then “Polar Coordinates”. There are only two choices in the dialog that comes up.   Choose the one at the top, “Rectangular to Polar”.

City OriginalImage Size-01Image Size-02Image Size 03Polar Coordinates Filter

When this was complete, there was an obvious seam where the right edge abutted against the left edge. The difference in tonal values, especially in the sky, caused this.  With a bit of clone stamp work in the sky and where the bridge ended on the left side, I was done.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

At my photography club this week, members brought images to discuss and I brought the before and after of this little world. This jogged the memory of one of the club members, Amanda, and how she had done a technique similar to this one a few years ago. After the meeting, Amanda was kind enough to send me a link to some little world images on Flickr which were inspiring.

Below are the two little worlds that I made, the one that Amanda did a while back and one that she created from some shots she took today.

Minneapolis Little WorldLittle Farm World.jpg"Mendota" Little World by Amanda"Postmark Grill" Little World by Amanda

Thanks for sharing, Amanda! This is an example of how great it can be to belong to a photography club and share ideas and techniques with fellow members.

This entry was posted in Photoshop Creativity.


  1. Marilyn Rau April 5, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    These are fun to play with, to make that kid like imaginative world that we can escape to…I’m having fun creating these too of city views… interesting doing it on a night scene.

    • Terry April 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

      Yes, I can get lost in things like this.

  2. Sue Rolle April 6, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    Wow!! This is why I want to learn Photoshop. Playing with pictures was what I loved about having a darkroom years ago. I have one now, but it’s non-functionable. Sigh…
    This image is great. You should publish it!! Maybe the Minneapolis magazine!

    • Terry April 6, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks, Sue. What a novel idea to actually make money on my hobby, Ha!