The advent of digital technology has caused a revolution in the way we think about photography. Before this revolution, most of us thought of photography when it comes to pictures captured on film that subsequently could be converted into prints through photographic development. However, rapid expansion of cameras, scanners and printers has changed this perception in form of Gigapixel Photography. Even the prevailing vocabulary has changed. Where previously a graphic was described with regards to granularity and acutance, it now more frequently is defined by count and dpi. Meanwhile, those people who’ve spent much of our lives while in the quest for film-based photography keep asking us whether such photography can survive; and, if it does, what role will it play? Whenever we debated this question in late 2000, it seemed reasonable to assume that cameras with resolutions in the plan would become common-place inside a few years.
This could place them in head-to-head competition with 35-mm film-based technology; perhaps even displacing that technology entirely within a decade or so. It seemed impossible that cameras with resolutions much over 10 megapixels would seem in the near term, on the other hand. Especially impossible would be the emergence of cameras with resolutions approaching 100 megapixels. As a consequence, we felt it likely that film-based large-format photography could for the time being remain unchallenged. With this in your mind, we have focused current efforts upon the effective use of ultra-high-resolution processes to the area of large-format Gigapixel Photography.
In defining the term ‘ultra-high-resolution,’ we’ve examined each factor that bears upon the image building process; especially taking into account the results of atmospheric blurring, lens aberrations and film granularity. When it became obvious the sought-for decision could not be stored via main-stream photographic development, the scope of our investigation was widened to incorporate digital models and movie scanners. We figured, in line with the largest practicable roll-film format (9’x18 ‘), we could be prepared to achieve a resolution equal to 1000 megapixels. Hence, came the name Gigapixel & trade. With new developments, this number approaches 4000 megapixels, nevertheless the name remains unchanged.
Susceptible to the limitations of human vision, a minimum of 8 square inches of print area is required to present the data within a 1-megapixel picture. The minimum produce place becomes 50 square feet, when scaled to 1000 megapixels. For images created from our 9’x18′ format, this equates to a print that includes a peak of 5 feet and a width of 10 feet. Likewise, print has dimensions of 10 feet by 20 feet. Meanwhile, close-up sharpness matches that of a 4’x6′ print from the 3-megapixel digicam. The data content of a print can be compared to that available in a real-world picture which will be viewed via a set of binoculars. In the event of 1000-megapixel pictures, you might require 6X binoculars; twice this power at 4000 megapixels.
The first Gigapixel cameras were finished and ready for test in February 2001; the first color areas being made per month later. Early photographs had a pixel count of 260 megapixels (20-micron check quality) and were produced on photographic paper. In just a year, however, the count had risen up to 670 megapixels (12.5-micron check resolution). Where stage, even though considerably higher resolution had been achieved on film, the pixel count quickly became limited by problems linked to the quality and scanner resolution limits of Adobe Photoshop. Meanwhile, with second-generation cameras (combining outstanding lenses and various focal lengths) approaching completion, we changed from photographic printing to color ink printing. Working closely with Adobe, issues linked to Photoshop file-size have little by little been settled. Meantime, effort with Leica Geosystems (producer of the DSW500 electronic scanner) is about to yield scans with a resolution of 6 microns. At which time, numerous existing negatives will be redigitized at 2,900 megapixels. By year-end (2004), we be prepared to drive scan solution for the 5-4 micron range; the corresponding pixel matters being 6,530 megapixels and 4,180 megapixels, respectively.
Extensive audience a reaction to Gigapixel photography symbolism was first obtained in 2003. In March of that year, a 21-foot panorama of San Francisco was exhibited in The Albuquerque Museum. Four weeks later, a similar image was exhibited in the Palace of Fine Arts/Exploratorium in San Francisco. Aside from basic expressions of amazement, feedback mostly has centered round the degree to which ultra-high-resolution provides a touch to subject material which otherwise is often dominated by its monumental scale. Especially it has been observed that the capability to seize the minutiae of everyday life provides a level of interest maybe not within conventional cityscapes.
While technical dilemmas which relate with scanning and digital processing remain addressed, recent efforts are focused upon the expansion of an image collection. At this time, we have stockpiled some 500 images; a fair proportion of which already have been scanned at the level. Subject material for one of the most part typifies the American landscape. Up to now, photographic forays have now been made to any or all States and Provinces, with the exception of Hawaii. Noteworthy downtown subjects include cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Calgary, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Seattle, and Denver. Work in the National and State Parks/Monuments extends to Yosemite, Stage Lobos, Mount Tamalpais, Mono River, Monument Valley, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, White Sands, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Devil’s Structure, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands of South Dakota, Denali, Jasper, and Banff.
In terms of the future, we have been much encouraged by the varieties of purposes which keep on emerging. One of particular appeal pertains to the documentation of cultural and archaeological web sites which cannot be stored and which undoubtedly will weaken with the passing of time. Thousands of the sites exist all over the world. Primary examples include total towns including Rome, Italy. In cases like this, limestone houses which have endured for 1000s of years have become the victims of acid rain. Stonemason’s chisel marks, until recently clear to see, have all but disappeared. Only via a massive system of ultra-high-resolution documentary Gigapixel photography can such details be preserved for study and enjoyment by future generations.