Applying image textures to a spherical surface

I am trying to create a realistic rendering of an apple.

I have modeled it with a UV sphere, created a dimple at top and bottom and applied a displacement modifier.
All in all, I am fairly pleased with the result.

What I would like to do now is to map one or more photos of a real apple onto the 3D model. I can take photos of an apple from the side and stitch them together before unwrapping the sphere and applying the image texture. However, as you will imagine, this results in some distortion at top and bottom.

The image of the apple around the stalk is quite distinctive and I would like to capture this.

I appreciate that this is going to entail a degree of compromise (seams etc). All the same I would be grateful for any suggestions as to how to do this effectively and in a way that would allow me some minor adjustments to the viewing angle.

David Wilson

Wonderful … many thanks.
I will read these …