After some time and consideration, I’ve decided although the spires fit with the theme of imagination and emergence they are just too visually dominant. I’ve thus been exploring using the 20px cell size (that avoids spires) with a lower horizon:
I’m quite happy with these results. The blue sky loses some of its dominance due to the lower horizon and the quite large max neighbourhood (20²), which expands the buildings into the sky. Due to the grey of the QE theatre, the palette is quite stormy, which fits with the theme focused on grey, rain and predictions in the Coastal City. With these very large max neighbourhoods that increase exponentially we really see the upper part of the image turn into a smooth colour field. I’m really excited about the prospect of a 2k video version showing a gradually increasing maximum neighbourhood size.
I noticed that the large cell size decreases the continuity in the transition between the original pano and the SOM. The problem is that the 20px cell size makes a alpha blend too obvious. What I really need is gradual change of abstraction due to interpolated sampling, i.e. blowing up the original image after scaling 20x smaller in steps down to 1x. This is a little finicky, but I am quite happy with the results otherwise.
I’m currently running another test with a very large exponentially increasing neighbourhood using the small 7px cell size and the lower horizon. I’m hoping these changes will either change the dominance of the spires or at least increase their colour variation and I’ll end up with something similar to the image above, but with the smaller cell size.