As insane and over the top as these images are, I really enjoy making them.
This particular monster is a composite of 54 individual images, captured in -2/0/+2 EV brackets. I shot in full manual exposure, white balance, and focus at 20mm zoom in portrait orientation, using my trusty tripod that I lugged all the way up to the top. I took much care to get my tripod as level as I could and just started snapping and moving around the circle.
The fun came when I tried to put it all together... It took a lot of different tries, and crashing/out of memory errors to get it to work. In short, the winning approach was to take the images in 3 groups of 18, that is each of the EV levels and stitch in hugin. I did all the optimization on the 0 EV batch, then saved the configuration file. I made 2 copies of this file, then just did a find and replace in notepad and replaced the names for the +2EV and the -2EV group. From there, I had 3 identically stiched panoramas, saved as TIFFs. I opened them in CS4 and created a .HDR file, which I saved and tonemapped in photomatix.
I have a nice LARGE version on my website complete with a panorama viewer -- the above 'thumbnail' just doesn't do it justice: http://www.corneveaux.com/gallery2/v/OPNM/OPNM-19.jpg.html Let me know what you think!!