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Friday, 23 January 2009


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I am guessing the NSA is watching us with even higher res systems. This is a scary cool photograph and technology

Anyone spotted the naked sunbather on the rooftop, yet?

I checked the photographer's location in Google Earth, which is probably the ANA Intercontinental Tokyo in Akasaka. According to the trusty Google Earth ruler, it's 60 miles / 97 kms from Mt. Fuji.

If you look at the detail on Mt. Fuji it's pretty mindblowing how clean the air was.

Note to self: Watch Rear Window again.

I'm trying to figure out why these huge "zoomifiable" photos don't do much for me. I come across this kind of thing once or twice a year, spend a couple of minutes zooming in and around, and then don't need to do it again for a long, long time.

Is it because the photos themselves are rarely remarkable for the subject matter, timing, lighting, and composition? Is it because they reflect a technical (computer) achievement much more than a human one? Is it because even on a large LCD monitor we can view so little of the photo at a time? (In other words, would the result be more impressive if it was a billboard sized print and we could walk up to it and see all of the details all over it instantly, without guessing where we want to look next, then click-dragging and waiting?)

Don't get me wrong; I'm glad someone's doing them, I know there's a lot of work and computing horsepower involved, and I understand the fascination with them. They do show us things we wouldn't otherwise notice, and that's always an admirable goal of photography.

But unlike a lot of the photos published on TOP*, I never say about these, "Man, I wish I'd taken that photo!"

*I'm excluding the closeup of Obama's pen here

A tennis player! Surely this is a subtle homage to Antonioni's 'Blowup'.

I've actually never seen "Blowup."

--Unsubtle Mike J.

For me, it is the same thing to eat ten kilogram of crude meat at one time... Dyspepsia for sure :)

The reason people aren't doing this so much with scanned large format negatives is that the mechanics of creating a multi-row panorama with a view camera would be very cumbersome... and what would you gain?

If I take a 4x4 multi-row panorama, I'll end up with an image that is roughly 3.5x the size of my sensor (some loss due to the necessary overlap). Let's say I'm using my Pentax K20D 14.6 MP dSLR (4672 x 3104 pixels) with an APS-C sensor measuring 23.4 x 15.6 mm. My effective sensor measures 81.9 x 54.6 mm, with an effective resolution of 16352 x 10864 pixels, or 177.6 MP. Want more resolution? Take more pictures!

Who needs medium format? (Of course, this works best for static situations, e.g., landscapes and scenics.)

Well if you haven't seen Blowup, maybe add it to your NetFlix list. Too bad, because it would have been a pretty clever reference had it been intentional. Also, Mel Brooks' High Anxiety if I recall correctly parodies Blowup in that a minute detail from a photograph is blown up enough to reveal more than originally met the eye.

But in real life, that kind of resolution wasn't possible using the 35mm film shown in those movies. Blade Runner (which is set in the future) uses a similar though more advanced device.

So anyway, here we are in 2009 and it's starting to look possible that a photo could contain hidden worlds, although it's duly noted that this was still a stitch job.

Cool, in the "technologically cool" sense.

I agree with Robert Noble on this one. It's a document – or perhaps a "map" – rather than a photograph I find any aesthetic satisfaction in. But of course these are the sort of pursuits that help drive the technological progress that provides the tools for artists, so I'm certainly not against it. In fact, the inner geek loves it.

For some it will be a means, and for some it will be the goal. To me it isn't art, but it sure is interesting in a "think of the possibilities" kind of way.

Keep the pixels coming! Hopefully someone will figure out a meaningful way to use them.

I am impressed with the high res quality. Now Id like to see it printed out and see just how big it is.

Actually, that fascination with minute details in photographs is very old. Daguerrotypes were customarily examined with a loupe.

You've never seen "Blowup"?! And you call yourself a photographer??

We saw it in college, and I'm guessing that you and I are about the same age.

C'mon, get with the program.

BTW, the Obamicon site is addictive, and I'm not getting anything else done. I've done all of this in the past day:




Mike J said: Damon, I've actually never seen "Blowup."

That's the single most shocking thing I've ever read on this forum.


Count me with those who don't find these things all that impressive.

I don't even find the level of detail viscerally impressive, because by the time I've fiddled my way in I've lost track of how big the whole thing is, and it still only occupies a postcard's worth of my visual space. Printed huge the detail might have more of an impact on me.

One of the big lessons of the web is, I think, almost exactly opposed to the spirit of these things: if a photo doesn't fly at 800 pixels wide, it probably doesn't fly at all. Most of the emotional content survives just fine in low-res, and if this is lacking, nothing will save the picture.

(The converse isn't true, sometimes you get away with poor sharpness on subjects which, in print, would want it.)

No naked sunbather, but a snoring Clarence Thomas. Too much fun!

I don't really understand the obsession with "Blowup". In truth, it's just not a good movie. It's self-indulgent, the plot is wafer-thin and it drags in places - but then the same could be said of a fair few movies made at around that time. However, as a portrait of a time and place ('60s London) it's much more successful. Probably only worth seeing to be able to say that you've seen it, imo.


I only saw Blowup last year. Nice way to spend a couple hours but I never really got on with it.

Anyway these Gigapixel shots are pretty cool for a while. I really think the curiosity is "seeing" something you are not supposed to. If you spend 20 minutes and "see" nothing what do you have? Not to diminish it in anyway however...

For my $ ( which is not much) I find Michael Wolf's work to be extra fascinating. MAybe it has a closer focus and more human scale to it?

Check it here:


Wow, such a clear day in Tokyo.

An older movie that featured a detail enlargment of part of a 4X5 neg as an important plot element was "Call Northside 777". I think Jimmy Stewart also used a Minox in that picture.

While visiting a computer store in Albuquerque, NM, I noticed that they had 2 large Gigapixel Project posters. They really are more impressive in print!

Dear Jeffrey,

It would be about 15 feet by 30 feet at about 300 ppi.

Which means to view it all at 100% on a typical monitor, you'd need one that was around 50 feet by 100 feet!

pax / goggle-eyed Ctein

When Blow-Up first came out, I saw it maybe 5 times in the theater. Since I bought the DVD a few years ago, I have watched it probably another 15 times. I'm still fascinated with it. I finally figured out that David Hemmings' character has certain "strengths" that I wish I had. (However, watching the movie hasn't helped, dammit.) I think I'll go put it on now...

The large-format-centric read of the Gigapan from the inauguration here--


--not a discussion of stitching vs. large format, but a game of "find the LF cameras" in the crowd.

Blowup was great; we studied it in film class back in college, and I've seen it a few times (and inflicted it on others) since. Since Mike hasn't seen it I'm not going to go into spoilers on cool things -- but Mike, it's a fascinating film. Time and place, yes, does that too.

Especially fascinating as a double-feature with The Conversation, which is a closely-related plot based on sound recording instead of photography.

Finally, I too find the ultra-res photos on the web of mostly technical, not artistic, interest. I haven't seen any of them in good large prints (hmmm; nor in bad large prints, either), and I do find large prints have something of a magic of their own.

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