Ultra-High Resolution Panorama of the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin

An ultra-high resolution 3-gigapixel panorama of Washington DC’s Tidal Basins with the cherry blossoms in bloom.

Photo of Washington DC Cherry Blossoms - March 30, 2016 taken by David Coleman.
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It's still far too early to guess with any confidence when the 2023 bloom will be. We won't start getting a clearer picture until early in the new year.

On average, Washington DC's cherry blossoms bloom around late-March into early April, but the precise timing varies year to year depending on the local temperatures in the leadup to the bloom. You can find general information on the 2023 bloom to help plan your visit here.

As you may have noticed from my posts on the cherry blossom blooming timelapse and the 360° video of the cherry blossoms, I like to experiment with photography gear and techniques. (And I review quite a lot of them on my main site.

This morning I was experimenting with something else: a Gigapan Epic Pro robotic camera mount.

Basically, it's a robotic holder that is designed to take ultra high resolution panoramas by automatically aiming the camera in the right spot for each shot and then controlling the camera's shutter to actually take the shot. It's entirely possible to do something similar manually, of course, especially with something like a dedicated panorama head. But the Gigapan automates the process and adds some convenience in the way of computing power.

The gist is that you take a lot of individual photos, each one just a very small part of the total scene. You then use software to stitch it all together.

What you end up with is something like the shot above. When you first load this page you'll see it fully zoomed out, so it just looks like a run of the mill banner panorama. But you can zoom in, and keep zooming in, and get a surprising amount of detail. You can see across the Potomac to Arlington National Cemetery and Lee House and the skyline of Rosslyn, or read the signs in the Maine Ave parking lot at right.

That's because the image isn't as small as it at first looks. In fact, the one above is actually a file that's rather a lot larger than the ones usually shared on the web: it's 7.8 GB. In terms of pixel resolution, it's nearly 3 gigapixels (for comparison, the more advanced consumer cameras on the market right now are in the 20 to 30 megapixel range), is 144,749 pixels wide by 20,550 pixels high, and is made up with 180 images stitched together.

This shot was taken early this morning at the Tidal Basin. The trees are past their prime, but as you can see they're still looking pretty good. So I wanted to take advantage of the clear, calm morning to try this out.

If you'd like to know more about the Gigapan, I'll be posting a detailed review of it in coming weeks at havecamerawilltravel.com.

Local Charity Spotlight

Looking to give back? Here's one of the local charities (or with local links) that is well worth contributing to.

Cape Ivy

Cape Ivy provides warmth, comfort and support to children who have chronic or critical illnesses and their families.

Cape Ivy provides fleece ponchos to children in the hospital because robes, sweaters and jackets don’t work well with IV lines and other medical equipment. Cape Ivy is a resource for families experiencing long-term hospitalization of children.

I've had the pleasure of personally seeing a small glimpse of the impact this organization. They're wonderful people doing wonderful work.

You can donate directly on their website and learn more about their mission and impact.

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