Friday, January 23, 2009

1,474-Megapixel Inaugural Photo - WOW!

How do you fit two million people in one photograph?

David Bergman found the solution, for his picture of President Obama's inauguration, and you've got to see it to believe it:

Before Tuesday, I had photographed five presidents and covered big events including the Olympics, the Super Bowl, and concerts like Live 8 and Live Earth. But this one was the biggest.

It deserved a big photo.

And big it is. It's an interactive panoramic shot, composed of hundreds of smaller images, so you can zoom in, out, over, under, around, through an historic sea of faces -- and get so close to individuals, famous and obscure, that you can see the whites of their eyes. (Hey, there's Yo-Yo Ma, taking a picture with his iPhone!)

Clearly something you won't find in the print edition of your newspaper.

So how did Bergman accomplish this?

I clamped a Gigapan Imager to the railing on the north media platform . The Gigapan is a robotic camera mount that allows me to take multiple images and stitch them together, creating a massive image file.

My final photo is made up of 220 Canon G10 images and the file is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels. It took more than six and a half hours for the Gigapan software to put together all of the images on my Macbook Pro and the completed TIF file is almost 2 gigabytes.

Use the controls to zoom and pan around the photo. You can also double click to zoom in and double click again to get even closer.

Compare it to CNN's 3D Photosynth project.

They're both like "Where's Waldo?" with real people -- and no Waldo. (Or at least we haven't found him yet.)