Friday, May 8, 2009

Extreme Photo Publishing Tools

In January of this year, two very different digital images made national and world news. One was only a 2-megapixel photo and the other was a huge, 1,474-megapixel photograph. Both photographers used the power of the Internet to distributed their images; however, the publishing tools were extremely different. One use the power of the Twitter social media network, and the other used a new panoramic interface, called GigaPan.

The 2-megapixel photo was taken with an iPhone by Janis Krums of the U.S. Airways jet that crash landed in the Hudson River in New York City on January 15, 2009. Janis was on one of the ferries that came to the rescue of the jet passengers in what has become known as the "Miracle on the Hudson." Janis took several photographs of the passengers standing on the wing of the floating plane. He posted a message with one of the pictures on his Twitter account, and within minutes it was linked around the world.

Nearly 40,000 Web users viewed the photo within the first four hours. Krums photo was able to bring comfort to many of the relatives of the passengers on the downed jet. Thousand of Twitter fans congratulated Janis on his foray into citizen journalism. The Associated Press picked up Krums' photograph and it was published by many newspapers in both print and on their websites. The Los Angeles Times used about one-third of the tiny image to span all six-columns of its front page! While this cropped version was less than 1-megapixel, its newsworthiness far surpassed its technical quality.

The 1,474-megapixel image was taken at the inauguration of President Obama by David Bergmann fives days after the Hudson River landing. As a freelance photographer, Burgmann had already photographed five presidents and covered other big events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl. But this was inaugural address was expected to draw the largest crowd ever, and he felt it deserved a big photo. Bergmann made a panoramic image of the nearly 2 million people watching Obama's inaugural address. Within hours of it being posted on the Web, it was viewed by millions, and has became the most popular picture of the inauguration.

What make David's panoramic image interesting is that the image is so huge, many of the 2 million people in the photo can be identified when one zooms in on the image. Yet the GigiPan interface allows the 1,474-megapixel image to be easily transmitted across the Internet!

David Burgmann's panoramic image was made using a Canon G10 prosumer camera (14.7-megapixel) attached to a GigaPan Imager -- a robotic camera mount that allows one to take multiple images and stitch them together. David's final photo is made up of 220 Canon G10 images and the file is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels. It took more than six and a half hours for the GigaPan software to put together all of the images on his Macbook Pro and the completed TIF file is almost 2 gigabytes!

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