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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The GigaScape

The GigaPan gives you the ability to make images that are higher resolution than you’ve ever dreamed possible

This Article Features Photo Zoom

This 144-image composite of Colorado’s Royal Gorge Bridge and Park was captured with the GigaPan Epic and the Canon PowerShot G10 with a 1.4x tele-extender. INSET: A very small detail of the Royal Gorge image. Printed to a size of 58x130 inches, the detail is still amazing. You can look at it by searching “Lepp” at www.GigaPan.com

Do you often feel that photography is advancing faster than you can buy new cameras and computers? Since the advent of digital imaging, it seems the capabilities and complexities expand faster than we mere mortals can master them. Was it only yesterday that composite panorama techniques and large-format inkjet printers allowed us to capture and display the grandscape? Well, that was then. Now, the grandscape has become the gigascape! Our word for it is “gigarama.”

Imagine a panoramic subject captured in such high resolution, it could be printed at 20x100 feet, or even larger, with incredible detail. Or picture the same image uploaded to the Internet, filling your computer screen, and being able to zoom into it Google Earth-like to examine the smallest elements. The gigapixel panorama, only recently a fantastic idea, has become a reality. It’s a photographic capability readily available to anyone who wants to think really, really BIG.

Autopano’s Giga 2.0 software is designed to composite very large panoramas. It works well in combination with files captured with the GigaPan robot and has many additional features to facilitate high-quality results.
The Gigarama Concept
The basic structure of a gigarama is a set of tiled captures composited into a single image. A true gigapixel image is composed of at least one billion pixels, but the term is being used to describe any very large photographic composite. Capture is only part one, however. The second half of the gigarama story is launching the image in a way that enables the viewer to explore its extraordinary detail.

A great gigarama requires a deserving subject. Some large-file images are just big, boring pictures; if your viewer is going to go walking into your composition, there must be something there to discover. Already the gigarama movement has generated some iconic images. Two that come to mind are an outstanding rendition of President Obama’s inauguration (go to www.GigaPan.org; search “inauguration”) and a huge image of Yosemite National Park taken from Glacier Point (www.yosemite-17-gigapixels.com).

Capturing The Gigarama
A worthy gigarama combines art and engineering. It requires all the same artistic elements as any other quality photograph: content, composition, exposure, color, sharpness and controlled contrast. But the photographic process makes you think like an engineer: You must manage the precise capture of possibly hundreds of images in quick succession, correctly overlapped so as to enable them to be composited later. This isn’t anything like stringing together a simple panorama. In the gigarama, every individual image must merge properly with the images above, below and adjacent to it.


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