Archive for December, 2009

Mauro Contrafatto has published some excellent panoramic photos of the aftermath of the Aquila earthquake damage.

Google happened to drive through there before the earthquake! So, here are some side-by-side comparisons. This is not a quality comparison, as we did in our post about Cesky Krumlov – rather, this is one great example of the incredible utility of panoramas: documentary and geography, together!

Piazza del Duomo, before – From Google streetview:

Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa

The same view as above of Piazza del Duomo on 360 Cities:

L’Aquila: Piazza del Duomo after the April 6, 2009 Earthquake in Italy

From Google streetview:

Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa

The same view as above, on 360 Cities:

L’Aquila: Anime Sante Church after the April 6, 2009 Earthquake in Italy

Continue reading ‘Aquila Earthquake damage – before and after’ »

Next plans in the world of gigapixels

I’m at a bit of a loss at the moment, so I thought I’d post my thoughts here for others to possibly help answer.

In the aftermath of the Prague 18 Gigapixel madness, I’ve got lots of questions to answer from many people. I promise that I’ll make another post about all the technical aspects of that image – soon!

Also, congratulations are in order to the folks over in Dresden who made the 26 gigapixel image. Great work!

Anyway, what comes next of course is…. a larger image, and a new record 🙂 I can’t help but try it. I won’t make any promises or guarantees though. Since even this Prague gigapixel image was only finished due to a great amount of good fortune, I’ll keep my expectations low on surpassing it in the near future.

Subject matter?

But… ‘What to shoot’ ? It’s easy to make a boring photo of course. The trick in setting a new record for some kind of image is of course finding out what to shoot – and here is the subject of this post. Not everything is easy to shoot when you have to synchronize the focus and exposure on every image. I solved part of the exposure issue to some extent in the Prague Gigapixel image (while it appears the Dresden folks did not in theirs) – you can see that the overall brightness of the image changes as you zoom in. I won’t reveal exactly what I did there 😉 But it’s clear that I did something, and it allows the details when zoomed in to have better contrast than they would otherwise.

The limitations

The main problem in creating these massive images is that we’re reaching the edge of certain optical properties of the camera and the lens. The camera can only make a single exposure, with a limited amount of dynamic range, which in practical terms is insufficient; the higher the resolution, the more insufficient it is.

Even more crucial than that is the focus and the depth of field (DOF).

It is not really noticeable in the Prague 18 Gigapixel image, shot with a 200mm lens, because everything is more than 100m away. In the 26 gigapixel dresden image, however, you can see that the horizon is not sharp – they have wisely chosen to focus the image not on infinity but rather on things that are much closer that you can actually see. With a 400mm lens, your DOF is really very small indeed. Even if you stop down to f/22 and use hyperfocal focusing, your DOF is still tiny. And you can forget about shooting more nearby things such as interiors because the DOF will be comparatively even smaller.

Focus Bracketing

The solution happens to exist already – it’s focus bracketing. It’s possible to shoot an identically composed photo which is focused differently, and to merge only the parts that are focused into a single image. This works great for single images. But what about stitching multiple images that are the result of focus bracketing?

Using this technique, it would be possible to use a very long lens to shoot hundreds of images for a gigapixel panorama, but to have a large DOF also. It would probably require 5 or 7 differently focused images at each position (and if exposure bracketing is used, you can multiply that by 3). This would limit the subject matter to things whose lighting won’t change over the course of many hours – but it would at least make a great deal more kinds of images possible at a huge resolution.

So, my questions:

1. Is it even possible to stitch multiple images that have been merged into a single focus-bracketed image?

2. Are there any cameras that exist which even allow automatic focus bracketing? I’m aware of this option in CHDK, but I don’t know how robust it is, and CHDK can only be used with “compact” cameras, not “pro” cameras.

3. Can an SLR tethered to a notebook or some other remote control perform focus bracketing?

Thanks to anyone for any light you can shed on these issues. In the meantime, maybe I’ll try some experiments myself and see what happens!

Here are the final 10 clues of the Gigapixel Treasure Hunt!

21. Where you go when you need fish food
22. Hippy czech flag
23. Helicopter
24 Where you can have a beer with Stelcer
25. A raven (or a type of crow anyway)
26. Pizza = mc squared
27 W‪here God can read the time from his chair in heaven‬
28. Vineyard
29. This building
30. This place

If you are starting late, here is the first set of clues and the second set of clues.

Here is the Gigapixel image itself.

Here is the Contest FAQ.

Be sure to read the Contest Rules!

Since these clues are even harder than yesterday’s clues, we’ll definitely publish hints on our Twitter feed or Facebook page. :-)

You can email your answers here:

Just to repeat the most important rules:

We will pick the FIRST person to send us in our email inbox with the MOST correct answers. So if nobody in the world knows all the answers before the deadline (11:59pm GMT, January 4, 2010) then we’ll choose the first person who sends us the highest number of correct answers.

If you send us multiple emails, you will be disqualified. Since we’ll probably have thousands of submissions, we’d like to prevent tens of thousands of unnecessary emails coming in. If you find more answers after you submit your answers, the obvious way around this rule is to send a new set of answers from a different email address.

If you can’t attach 30 files in a single email, you should get a gmail account.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them on our Twitter feed or Facebook page.

Good luck!

Here is the second set of clues in the $1000 Gigapixel Treasure Hunt.

11. “Pat & Mat” at work, up there
12. A driving range
13. A water tower being beautified
14. A “gentleman’s nightclub”
15. A clock that’s wrong
16. A sphere (no, NOT the spherical image itself)
17. A chairlift
18. A bulls-eye and cross-hairs
19. A female pink face on a window
20. A square and a triangle next to each other (in a field)

If you are starting late, here is the first set of clues. Update: here is the third set of clues.

Here is the Gigapixel image itself.

Here is the Contest FAQ.

Last but not least, be sure to read the Contest Rules!

If these clues turn out to be harder than yesterday’s clues, then we’ll publish hints on our Twitter feed or Facebook page. 🙂

The final set of clues (and the email address where you can send your answers) will be published tomorrow.

Good luck!

Here are the first ten clues in the Gigapixel Treasure Hunt:

1. blue hair
2. a heated floor under construction
3. somebody in their underwear
4. south end of the suicide bridge
5. lone pitbull
6. a bagel (or maybe it’s a donut)
7. exterior nudity
8. number 11 and 12, next to each other
9. a bus from a town between the rivers Krka and Kolpa
10. Sgraffito

Are you having trouble finding everything? Subscribe to our Twitter feed or Facebook page to hear some hints this week!

Be sure to carefully read the full contest rules!

You can also read the contest FAQ.

There will be ten more clues posted tomorrow, and ten more the day after that. On wednesday we will also publish the email address where you can send your answers.

Good luck, and happy hunting!

Update: here are the second and third sets of clues.

Here is a short FAQ about the Gigapixel Contest. Be sure to also read the full contest rules.

Do I have to find the items by myself or can I work with other people?

We recommend that you DO work with other people. Only one person from your team should send us the answer. Under the Czech law, you are required to split the prize with any other contributors according to their contributions. We consider 1 item 1 contribution, i.e. 1/30 of the prize shall go to the contributor. However, we will pay the money only to one PayPal account and you are responsible for distribution of the prize or creating a different rule for your contributors. 360Cities assumes no responsibility for intra-team arrangements and only one person (dispatcher of the e-mail and PayPal account holder) will be considered the winner.

If you want people to work together to find the prize, then I can’t win if I try to do it by myself?
You can win if you do it by yourself – but as they say “two heads are better than one”

How do I make a screenshot?
You can follow these instructions (both windows and mac)

My email program won’t let me send 30 attachments!
You can try a different email provider – Gmail for example will work. You can send up to 25MB using gmail, so it will be possible to send 30 screenshots in a single email. Probably other email providers will work too. I know it’s a pain to create a new email address for just this competition, but the alternative is that we have 10 thousand emails, some of them multiple emails from the same person – this is not an option.

I don’t know how to move the image around. Help!
You can ‘click and drag’ your mouse over the image to move it. You can zoom using the “shift” and “control” keys. Or you can use the controls on the left side of the image to move around and zoom.

I found the first 10 items – now I want to be sure I hear about the next clues as soon as you announce it – how can I do this?

You can join our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our Blog (via email updates, or RSS). That way, you’ll get the next clues as soon as we publish them.

The items are hard to find? Will you publish any hints?
Yes! We will publish hints about how to find the items via our Facebook page and on Twitter. You won’t get these hints anywhere else. So if you really want to win, we suggest you follow one of these.

I know all the answers. I’ll sell this information to other people or publish it on my webpage.
We can’t stop you from doing that, but that would probably eliminate your chance of winning as only the first person who sends us the 30 correct screenshots can win the prize, so we hope you won’t do that.

I’ll make a group effort with lots of friends, and distribute the prize money to my friends, or to my friends’ friends, etc. if they help me find the answers. Is that ok?
Yes, that’s definitely ok. A recent “treasure hunt” contest was won precisely in this way in fact.

Can I use IM / skype / chat / google wave to make a team?
Yes, that’s probably a good idea.

Can I download the panorama and view it on my computer, offline?

You need to be online to view the image.

Here are the winners for the second stage of the Tour de 360 Cities competition. The winners of the first stage of the have been announced here.

Main Prize: Rafael DeVill

Rafael DeVill

Rafael managed to get 54 points according to the rules and wins a Nodal Ninja NN5 w/RD16 top of the line panoramic head and Nodal Ninja EZ-Leveler-II (approximately $550 + $110 + free shipping = approximately $700 value). Congratulations!

Nodal Ninja 5 w/ RD16 Rotator<- click to open the description on Nodal Ninja website

Now there was another participant who also received 54 points: Denny A. Ovchar. Therefore we had to check who of those two potential winners uploaded their panoramas first and we found out that it was Rafael. He managed to upload and publish all his panoramas before the end of December 12th.

Second Prize: Paul Keating

Paul Keating

Paul was randomly selected from all participants by a process overlooked by three 360 Cities team members. In the draw there were all participants who received at least 4 points or referred a new author to 360 Cities. Paul wins a PTGui Professional License for stitching panoramic photos (approximately $230 value)

360 Cities 2010 Wall Calendar Prize

Here are the participants who fought for the main prize but didn’t win. We’re sending calendars to them.

Denny A. Ovchar (54 points)
nt360 (50 points)
Tibor Illes (50 points)
Yavuz Sevimli (46 points)
Jedsada Puangsaichai (44 points)

To claim your prize, write an email to jan.vrsinsky at and put “Calendar Prize” in the subject and send us your mailing address.

360 Cities and Nodal Ninja Discount Coupons

If you have participated in the first or second stage of the competition and you received at least 4 points, you are eligible for getting a 10% Nodal Ninja discount coupon and a 25% discount coupon valid for buying 5 prints at 360 Cities. Please contact jan.vrsinsky at to claim your prize. Enter “Discount Coupon Prize” somewhere in the subject. Make sure you send the message with the same email address that is registered at 360cities. You’ve got 30 days to claim your prize.

Congratulations to all winners and thank you all who participated in the competition!

After a few weeks of hard work, we can finally present what we think is the world’s largest spherical panorama.

This image was shot on October 3, 2009. It is made from hundreds of individual photographs and stitched together into a single seamless panoramic image.

We have put the entire image, in full resolution, online for everyone to see. It’s possible to zoom in to an incredible level of detail.

prague 18 gigapixels - zoomed out

We are so excited to show you this huge panorama that we’re putting our skin in the game:

You can win $1000 if you can find all the clues in our Treasure hunt!

prague 18 gigapixels - zoomed in

Continue reading ‘The Largest Panorama in the World?’ »

Can you find 30 things in our 18 gigapixel panorama? Easy, right? Just find them, be the first one to tell us the answer, and you’ll win $1000.

If you want to be notified immediately about the 10 clues, then you should either subscribe to this blog, or better, join our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

Update: here are the first, second, and third sets of clues.

prague 18 gigapixels - zoomed in

Here are some details: The contest starts on Monday, December 21, 2009 at 12 noon GMT. We thought we’d give you a couple of days to look at the image and get ready… On Monday, we’ll announce the first ten clues. We’ll announce ten more the next day, and ten more the day after that. When you have all the answers (or as many as you can get) mail us your answer, and if you’re the first one with the correct answers, you win $1000. One thousand dollars is a lot, so to increase your chances of winning, you might want to ask your friends to help you? The internet is full of handy ways of talking to lots of people at once, so we’ll let you use your imagination. Please read the full contest rules. We’ll publish a Contest FAQ also, very soon. Good luck! 🙂 prague 18 gigapixels - zoomed out

prague 18 gigapixels

A lot of people are curious about how exactly an image like this can be made at all. So, we’ve compiled the most basic questions and written some answers. If you have another question, be sure to leave a comment below.

The Prague 18 Gigagpixel image was shot from the top floor of this tower.

The Prague 18 Gigagpixel image was shot from the top floor of this tower.

How did you create this panorama?

I used a Canon 5d mark 2 and a 70-200mm lens, set to 200mm. The camera was mounted on a robotic device which turned the camera in tiny, precise increments, in every direction. All together, 40 gigabytes of images were shot. These images were then stitched together using PTGui. The resulting panorama was adjusted for color, contrast, sharpness, etc. in Photoshop. Afterwards, the image was cut into lots of “tiles” and uploaded to our server. When you view the image online, you only load a few of these “tiles” at one time.

How long did you spend stitching this panorama?

Between loading the initial raw files into the computer, and having the panorama stitched, it took about a week. It took 3 additional weeks to fine-tune the image.

What kind of computer did you use?

I used a four year-old windows PC with two single-core 3ghz xeon processors and 8GB of RAM. After a week of frustration, I also bought an SSD, which helped to speed up some tasks a bit. If I will make this image again, I will buy a new computer.

What are the dimensions of this panorama, and the size it takes on disk?

The final image exists as a 120 gigabyte photoshop large (PSB) file. It cannot exist as a TIFF or JPEG file because of their size constraints. The panorama online exists as a few hundred thousand small tiles (in JPEG format), and they take up about 1 gigabyte of disk space.

If you have more questions about how this image was made, please leave a comment!

Link to the panorama