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.

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.

Last updated March 31, 2016

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