About the photographer and the project
My name is Peter Lauritis. I was born in 1982, I´m married and a proud daddy of a son. Since 2005 I have been engaging in digital photography by profession. That contains the sectors press work, concerts of international stars, product- and building photography, weddings, tower photos, 360 degrees photos and much more. In my own little photo studio I offer professional photo shootings für low prices to my costumers.
The Gigapixel project had its birth in December 2009 when I saw the publication of the world biggest photo in Dresden. I was very impressed by many different details and the high and very good sharpness in a high zoom field. I am always looking for new challenges in photography and so I decided to make a try for a comparable photo.
After a short learning phase for the panorama photography I tried to find the perfect place for a Gigapixel photo. In my opinion the Spiegelslustturm in Marburg was a very good place with a wonderful and unique view over Marburg. The next day I drove to this tower to have an overview about that panorama. I established that in December the weather is too bad for my intention. Another place could be the city church in Stadtallendorf. You have a fantastic view over Stadtallendorf from there and the weather didn’t influence the view like in Marburg. Besides the “Hessentag 2010” would be in Stadtallendorf in May/June 2010 and until then I wanted to get ready with my Gigapixel photo to publish it.
One morning (in March 2010) the weather conditions in Stadtallendorf were excellent and I took my D300, my Sigma 50-500mm objective, my tripod and a cable trigger. I set up the stand and camera on the tower of the city church and photographed 4.534 separate photos by hand. Specific on that day was that the sun shined beautiful, but the temperature was -5 degrees. Besides there was a strong wind on the tower blowing so that my hands seemed to freeze.
After the putting together the photos with AUTOPANO I saw that I forgot to photograph some motives – so there were many missing lines. Added to that there were many wrong camera adjustments which made the photo seemed to be dirty and unrealistic.
For that reason I had to do it all once again. Avoidable the missing lines I searched a photo robot and a panoramic tripod head. These two things were delivered in a short time and I could make tests on it. I prepared the new shooting with much more knowledge and a good selection of accessories, in April 2010. However, but this time I had to stop the shooting very quickly, because it started to rain. So the light conditions were very bad immediately.
In May I got support from my best friend Damiano Klug. The weather prediction was excellent and we were very motivated to photograph the world biggest photo. We took the complete photo selection, set it up and took photos of total 3 blocks with 100 columns and 20 lines. After a shooting time of 7,5 hours and short breaks because of rain we decided that the shooting was finished. With sunburn and our photo selection which became hot we left the city church tower to take a look at all photos we made – on the PC. We were very excited and interested in the result.
We loaded all photos in AUTOPANO. After that I found many mistakes in the panorama again, but that time I invested 2 days on the PC to put in manually the missing control points. It took a long time with my computer (with Intel Quad Core 2,8 GHz, NVIDIA GTX8800 and 8GB RAM) to add the missing control points and crashed down sometimes. Because of that I decided to buy a new computer which gets on much better with the gigantic amount of data.
I invested 4.500,-€ for a brand new PC with Intel i7 960 3,2 GHz, 2x NVIDIA 480 GTX 1,5 GHz SLI, 24GB RAM 9-9-9-20 and 4,8TB hard disk with 10.000 and 7,200 rotations. The new computer works perfectly with such a big amount of data and is much faster than its predecessor. However, the photo still wasn’t perfect and that action has never been finished. It was a pity, because you could see the fix-stepped chewing gums on the ground – it was a burning distance of 750mm.
Now I worked on more solving the problems for all known and inaccurate factors. After a few times I decided that the Spiegelslustturm in Marburg would be a better motive. I called Mr. Götzfried who could grant entrance out of the opening times to me and drove to Marburg. The view was as bad as in December 2009, so that I decided to take photos the next early morning.
The next morning at 7 o’clock I packed my equipment and drove to Marburg again. At 8 o’clock I met a house technician and went into the tower. I set up all my equipment very decently – to avoid mistakes from the beginning – and worked very strictly and step by step. I photographed line for line, activated the photo robot, saved the photos in between (from memory stick to the Laptop) and checked my results. Because of the perfect light conditions I photographed with a shutter of 1/400 seconds and an aperture f/20. That guaranteed the guarantee of a very high depth sharpness and to avoid wiggly photos without blur – in spite of the fast photo series of 1 photo per 2 seconds.
After 3:29 hours the shooting was already finished and I drove home. On the trip home I hoped that the shooting has been without mistakes and I couldn’t wait to load the photos on AUTOPANO.
After loading in AUTOPANO I was very surprised! The photo had a 100% balance and there were only a few photos in a wrong order. After 2 days of manual stitching (=attaching all single photos) I still had to cut the photo only. Because of the exact, digital camera levelling the cutting was minor that in spite of the “low” 12,3 Megapixel I raised up a 47 Gigapixel photo
Data / facts
For the stitching I used the program Autopano by the company Kolor. After loading the photos and the automatic control point searching there was a nearly perfect panorama photo. It was overwhelming! The lines were 100% in order and only a few photos had the wrong place. Because of the gigantic amount of data the manual stitching was a trial of a persons patience. The shifting, turning or connecting of a photo took about 3-5 minutes each. For that reason I needed three long days to touch up only a few photos. My tip: during the stitching watch about 80 series of your favourite soap or serie on DVD. After all photos were connected correctly I only had to make the last cut. The final size now was 489.545 x 97.389 Pixel. WOW!
The last step for the Gigapixel project was the rendering. My „normal“ PC didn´t work even at small projects – so I was very happy about my new powerful PC. A short time before handeling my panorama photo there was a big update of “Kolor“ for Autopano, version 2.5 which speeded up the time of rendern about factor 1,5. Besides it worked very stable. Thank you “Kolor“!
The time of rendering took about 69 hours on a size of 177GB data and in PSB size. Photoshop could only open and work up 300.000 x 300.000 Pixel – so there was no need to touch up enhance the photo, it was devided in many small dates directly.