The Art And The Technology Of Gigapixel Photography
As photographers know, whether professional or keen amateur, the detail can make a good photograph great. Shooting in as high a resolution as possible is to be encouraged, whether you want to see the detail in a bride’s dress or a spectacular landscape.
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Jeff Cramer is credited with capturing the highest ever resolution photograph with an image he captured of Machu Picchu. As one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the world, not just Peru.
The making of this gigapixel photograph has sparked interest across the world, weighing in at a whopping 15.9 gigapixels. So, how did Cramer do it?
Using a GigaPan robotic mount, Cramer shot nearly 2,000 RAW images to complete the panorama, each at 18MP. He captured the images using a Canon 400mm lens on his Canon 7D body, chosen for the crop allowing further reach. Although the ISO was high, the shutter speed was 1/640.
Every one of the RAW files was then processed using Adobe Bridge, and 32GB of RAM used to create the panorama. The stitching alone took 1.5 hours, culminating in a 47GB file, which took 11.5 hours to upload.
The panorama was actually attempted at three different times on different days because of software crashes, which caused a lot of hassle and stress with all the paperwork required for the correct permissions, not to mention managing all the equipment in a remote location.
Shooting famous landmarks like this has its own challenges due to the number of tourists visiting, and as ever, in the Great Outdoors, a photographer does not have the control over lighting and conditions as he would in a studio, so there is a challenge in constantly evolving skies with clouds and light.
What Cramer shares with many photographers across the world, such as Sam from newforeststudio.com, is a passion for alternative, creative images that get people talking. A new forest photographer capturing portraits or weddings might not have the same scope for taking the time that Cramer did in The Lost City of the Incas, but there are plenty of spectacular landscapes here in the UK that could see the technical elements of this now world famous image replicated.
If you have a special photograph like this, The British Photographic Council will be keen to know about it and can provide advice on protecting and promoting your rights as the image maker. If photography is your business then the British Institute of Professional Photography might be able to offer further support.
Whether this is still the photograph with the highest resolution ever taken remains to be seen. Technology is constantly improving and people are always wanting their work to reach new and wider audiences. The technique as it stands allows us to zoom in to see incredible detail that would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago.