London Gigapixel – Challenges and Problems

I faced a ton of challenges and problems when shooting the London 80 gigapixel image.

First of all, it was similar to the Prague gigapixel image from last year – I shot it as a challenge, not sure if it would really work. Unlike the Prague image, this one was not shot from a tower, but from Centre Point – a large skyscraper, and very long. The Prague image was shot from a tower, and all three sections that I shot were very close together. On the top of Centre Point, I shot a panorama from each corner of the building, and then joined them together. Because the building is so long, the view from one corner to the other really is very different. So, joining the panoramas from all of the corners, into a single panorama, really was difficult. If you look closely, you can see some strange things where these panoramas are overlapping.

Another major challenge was the weather. I don’t live in London, and I had three days to shoot this panorama. Luckily, the weather was very clear, although the light was extremely variable. Panoramic images generally require the camera to be set to the same exposure for the entire panorama. In the case of this image, shooting with a 400mm lens, at both white buildings in the sunshine, and darker places in the shadows, with the sun behind the clouds, it was a major challenge to get an exposure that could capture something meaningful at both of these extremes! It is noticeable in the panorama that some portions of the image were shot when it was sunny, and others when the sun was behind clouds. However, you will also notice that when zoomed in, there is good detail, and good contrast, with both bright highlights, and dark shadows. This was extremely hard to pull off!

There are going to be, inevitably, some stitching errors in a panorama that is made from 8000 photos. What I am most surprised about is how few there actually are in the image. This is a testament to the power of the “Deghost” blending available in Autopano Giga. Not only does this blending algorithm work extremely well — it cuts the photos in a way that the errors in the seams are as undetectable as possible — this Deghost blender is really fast!

The other challenges I faced while shooting the image were related to the wind, and the exposure of the camera. 36 stories up, it is simply windy, period. The wind was blowing the camera on the tripod ever so slightly, but enough to ruin a good shot. At 400mm, the camera does not have to move very much, or very fast, for the shot to be blurry. I spent many hours holding the camera gently enough so that it could move (on its robotic camera mount) but firmly enough that it wasn’t being moved around by the wind. And given these conditions, I could not use the ISO (camera sensitivity) or aperture that I desired. At any rate, the shots came out better than I thought, given these circumstances.

I could go on and on with the challenges, problems, and mistakes that I faced, but I’ll stop here. If you have any questions that weren’t answered here, leave a comment, and I’ll try to answer them in another post!

8 thoughts on “London Gigapixel – Challenges and Problems

  1. Hi Jeffrey, this is excellent work. We met in Plymouth at the Panotools Meeting a few days before the shoot. I was going to email you to find out how it had gone, but no need now, obviously you managed to solve the problems. I, and I am certain many others, would like to learn more about how the whole project was accomplished. Look forward to reading more comments from you on this subject.


  2. Congratulations Jeff. I can spend hours looking at these pano’s. They remind me of the “Where’s Wally” cartoon strips. Perhaps next time you could get an accomplice to dress in a certain way and offer a prize for the first viewer to find him / her! :o)


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