So, how did I make the London Gigapixel? Here are some answers. I will update this post from time to time, because I want this to be a “real” FAQ. Of course I can think of a few questions that people will ask, so I’ll start with those. If your question isn’t answered here, leave a comment, and I will add more questions/answers to this post on a regular basis.

How big is this image, really?

It is 400,000 x 200,000 pixels. If you printed it at 300dpi (that’s how you’d print your photos at the photo lab) it would be about 35 x 17 meters, or 100 x 50 feet.

Why did we make it?

Because it was nearly impossible!

How did we make it?

I used a digital SLR camera and a 400mm lens. I also used a special custom-built robotic camera mount, which moved the camera for me. This made shooting more bearable (but still really difficult).

I can read license plates and see faces! Isn’t that illegal?

The last time we checked, it is perfectly legal to practice the art of photography in most places on planet Earth. We have blurred out the faces of identifiable children, because as we understand it, it is a tremendous crime in the UK to photograph and publish images of children without the consent of their parents (unless you are a CCTV operator, then it’s perfectly alright ;-) . We also blurred out one “naughty bit”.

Will you print this image? Can I see that?

We are currently looking for a client who would like to display a print of the London Gigapixel.
If you have any interest in this, please contact us.


Do you have more questions? Leave a comment!

40 Comments

  1. John Gore says:

    Well done Jeffery!! This is a brilliant job!

  2. Gabriele Mondada says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Congratulations!
    How big (height) is the skyscraper? What was the tripod height? It was a standard one?
    Thanks.

  3. jeffrey says:

    36 floors up. standard tripod.

  4. JPS says:

    Great job, Jeffrey !

    Question: which software did you use to stitch these, and how did you clone our the “ghosts” of moving people or cars ? IMHO, Photoshop cannot handle such big file….. perhaps splitting the files into small parts ?

    Just curious…

    Regards,
    J-P.

  5. jeffrey says:

    Hi JPS,

    I used Autopano Giga.

    You’re correct, photoshop (or any other program that I know of) cannot open such a large file. so, it existed in two huge files, before I cut it into tiles. This panorama has never existed as a single file (in its full size) !

    -Jeffrey

  6. Cunthulu says:

    Since it isn’t one large image, what’s the total filesize of all these smaller images?

  7. jeffrey says:

    Hi Cunthulu,

    It’s about 5GB or so on the web. the photoshop files are about 120GB.

    Jeffrey

  8. Cody says:

    This really is an amazing shot. I think you should do a panorama of a city at night though. I saw one of the Vancouver at night, I believe. It was gorgeous. I really think a multiple gigapixel panorama like that would be amazing.

  9. Doogie says:

    Hi Jeffrey!

    I really do like the picture. From a technical point of view: great work!

    But you should have blurred *all* faces! Not because of any law. Just simply because *some* people on the picture will not agree with it, beeing displayed just like that on the internet. Only some, may be not all. But you did not ask these some.

  10. Lothar says:

    Could you give a few more details on the lens, camera body and robotic pano head, that were used for the picture? Dying of curiosity… ;-)

    Thanks,
    Lothar

  11. jeffrey says:

    Hi Doogie,

    Can we agree to disagree?

    This image is not risque, or embarrassing, or forbidden. Blurring stuff out reduces a pretty picture to some ****** thing where ***** stuff is ****** and people feel ******. Its like if I was writing ******* and you ****** because ******* ** ******* **** *********. You know? ;-)

    -Jeffrey

  12. Gordon says:

    Amazing image, well done.
    I notice some stitching errors, will you redo?
    How did you manage to edit all the images as too large for photoshop?

    Best
    Superzoomer

  13. jeffrey says:

    Hi Gordon/Superzoomer,

    No, I won’t redo. But the next image, from the next city, will have fewer stitching errors, I promise.

    Editing an image that can’t exist in a single file was really a big pain. How did I do it? By being very careful ;-)

    Jeffrey

  14. patrick says:

    What a great job, thanks so much for hours and hours of fun watching this picture! Can you tell me the exact date the pictures were taken? I belive it was over period of three days?

    Thanks again and greeings from the city of cologne (hopefully one of your future projects?)

  15. Willi says:

    Hi Jeffrey,
    when did you take the picture?
    Willi

  16. jeffrey says:

    Hi Willi,

    I took this picture in 2010.

    :-)

  17. Matthias says:

    Hi Jeffrey,

    Could you say exactly (the 3 days) when the photos were taken?
    I was in the summer 2010 for a week in London, then I would know if I can perhaps find myself.

    Matthias

  18. Hansjörg says:

    Hi

    great job!

    But how did you manage to put all the individual photos together in one? My own pc gets even tired if I put 10 pic together with photoshop…

  19. jeffrey says:

    Hi Matthias,

    Sorry but I’d rather not say. You just have to take a look :-)

  20. Nelly the penguin says:

    You say ” We also blurred out one “naughty bit”.” was this the bath in the small consevatory on the roof by any chance?

  21. Kevin says:

    This is great stuff… Pretty cool to see the technical specs of the equipment which were used :) .

    Btw, if you look at Big Ben, then you will know the time when one picture was taken. The only problem is to find the date (which should be possible if you go through the panorama in a detailed manner)…

  22. simonUK says:

    Hi

    What spec is your PC ? which OS did you use ? sorry just curious as windows 7 and OSx has RAM limitations

    Many thanks

  23. Adrian says:

    Great Job you done there. I wonder on how many photos you were operating in same time. Im curious how many photos your workstation could handle in program. Regards

  24. Zocha says:

    Yeah the only thing I am curious is the PC you have used to edit this panorama. I guess It has lots of RAM (like 10? 20? gigabyes) would be great If you could tell us what was it exacly :)

  25. jeffrey says:

    Hi Zocha,

    please read the text next to the big red fujitsu logo on the first tab of the gigapixel page. it’s described there :)

  26. A Reader says:

    The problem with not blurring faces is that you are making money from this image (Google4 adverts and advertising for other business, for example). Consequently you need model release forms (or a legal contractual equivalent) to give you permission to use images of people for your financial gain. Each such form, when signed is also likely to involve payment to the person giving consent. Failure to have such contracts in place leaves you open to being sued by each person involved, probably involving a share of the profits. This, rather than just ‘good’ PR, is almost certainly why Google took the trouble to ensure that people’s faces were unidentifiable.

  27. A Reader says:

    P.S. You are probably aware that Google is embroiled in a large number of legal case around the world because of Street View. This includes many class actions, including by a ‘consortium’ of states in the USA. http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&source=hp&biw=800&bih=365&q=google+streetview+class+action&aq=f&aqi=g-sx1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=defa3a9cb56700ff

    While many of these relate to collection of wi-fi data, which is a very obvious breach of many national laws, many more relate to images of individuals.

    It’s shame that such constraints have become the norm in much of the developed world, but they have.

  28. Matt Hood says:

    Hi Jeffry,

    Amazing work fist of all!! I only wish I had the equipment to do this! so on that thread…. What equipment did you use? Camara body, Lenses etc? and how long did it take to stitch??

    really looking forward to your next project and have to agree with cody a night time panorama would look Awesome!

  29. Sergio N. says:

    How many time takes shooting, and how did you shoot the sky? If sky shooted at same focal lenth as ground – didn’t clouds moved around? I guess that top of panorama shooted with wide angle lens?

  30. Graham Milford-Scott says:

    As long as there have been cameras, people have been photographed unwittingly and it is a risk of living in in a camera-rich world. Wisely, you have chosen not to publish the date the photographs were taken as that could pin-point a person’s movements a little too precisely and you could end up in court as a witness in a divorce case, for example. Thank you for pulling back the kimono on the technology as far as you have; commercial secrecy is a totally reasonable form of self-protection.

    I am stunned by the extraordinary level of detail and the phenomenal zoomability. I think I need to upgrade my Brownie.

    Warm congratulations.

  31. Michael Richard Allen says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Last year you took a world record breaking panorama of Prague, which was 18 gigapixel. The 80 gigapixel of London is more than 4 times larger, can we expect 160 gigapixels next year? If so please, please, please reconsider doing London again – at the right height you could see out towards the North Sea! Perhaps when the Shard is finished?

  32. jeffrey says:

    HI Michael,

    Sorry, I won’t do London again anytime soon (unless a client wants it of course!)

    160 gigapixels? maybe. but the limiting factor is the air itself. look towards the horizon in this one and zoom in, you’ll see things get a bit wavy. more resolution won’t solve that.

    jeffrey

  33. another Michael says:

    May I ask you, what is the exact photography equipment used? All I’ve seen was info on the spec of PC, but I am curious what was it taken with.

  34. GG says:

    Great Job and must say that you are a madarchod.
    Your work is behenchod type.
    keep it up

  35. Ram Rao says:

    Jeffrey,
    You are an imaginative and intrepid photographer to have embarked upon such a project, and with such results. Wish you a long and fulfilling career (or hobby, if you choose to see it as that).
    Do share the make and models of digital SLR body, lens and tripod used.
    These are not confidential, are they?

  36. jeffrey says:

    Canon 550d and sigma 80-400mm lens.

  37. Rich says:

    Amazing pano. One of the most distant landmarks I have been able to identify is the 800ft chimney at Grain Power Station in Kent which is over 36 miles away as the crow flies.

  38. 360 Cities – Panoramic Photography Blog » Blog Archive » The London Gigapixel is finished! says:

    [...] If you want, you can also read a general FAQ about the making of the London 80 Gigapixel image. [...]

  39. Brian says:

    Hi Jeffrey –

    You’re a wizard. Good luck finding a commercial outlet for your mastery of ultra mega hi rez stitched imagery. I was sorry I didn’t find out about the scavenger hunt in time to participate. I had fun “in Prague” last year.

    I saw a panoramic print about 10 meters long recently, stretched over a wooden frame and made into a temporary wall panel. It was taken from a vantage point in the Azores and taken to a festival in Fall River US by Azoreans interested in promoting tourism. Whatever … Keep having fun and putting out the great imagery.

    Can you describe some of your processing on this image or is it too proprietary? Did you use any hdr techniques? Is the exposure somehow related to or affected by the zoom level in the viewer?

    Regards,
    Brian Shriver

  40. Bedrich says:

    Hello Jeffrey,
    It is such a wonderful “picture”. Thank you for sharing this. I would like to ask you a little bit about a picture format you used. What kind of picture format did you use to take all pictures (JPEG, RAW)? And which format and technology is used to display data to end users. I was thinking about JPEG2000 and its on-demand functionality?
    Thank you for answer