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Definitions of the terms are in the right hand column.  Obviously they take more effort and, in some cases, more expensive equipment.  So why do them?  Since my early days in art school I have always believed that images have a proper "scale" to them.  Some need to be small, miniature gems that you get right up close to and gaze into this tiny world as if you were seeing things otherwise unnoticed through a lens to a different dimension.  But others, to me, need to be very large.  In these huge images which can range from a few hundred megapixels to scores of gigapixels, the detail and resolution are so great that they can reveal details that a person standing next to the camera would have been unable to resolve. When that is how the scene in front of me resonates and "feels" to me, in a sense 'tells' me it is how I should present it to my viewers, then it is time to take the effort to make a mosaic.

Actually, many of the shots in my gallery are mosaics with extraordinary resolution and detail in the final prints that can be 24x36 or larger... much larger. The problem is, normal web based images are simply too small.  Even if the actual file has all of that data available it cannot be shown large enough to reveal it.  Even if you had a wall sized monitor the files would take days to download.  Well, until now that is.  A wonderful Flash-driven engine called by the improbable name of "Zoomify" has solved it.  Thanks to this software, you can zoom in on the photos to see them in all of their native detail.  And recently a cooperative effort by Carnegie-Mellon University and NASA's Ames Robotic Research group, and with support from Google, have created the "GigaPan Epic Imager" which is a robotic spherical panoramic head allowing great precision and the use of long lenses for additional detail.  Along with that device a proprietary stitcher and display engine was developed to allow the viewer to zoom in to see the details otherwise hidden in the files.  Of course I had to have one... 

The mosaics or panoramas I've chosen to show here are quite large at full scale so I've only put up a few samples here to show different types of images I've used as a starting point for a mosaic.  Simply making a print huge can elicit a gasp but then the gimmick of size dies quickly if the shot, regardless of its dimensions, is still not a well conceived and composed image.  Some gigapixel images are great commercial pieces that can reveal tons of detail and visual information about a place.  But thus far, at least, I prefer to use the techniques when I believe the scene in front of me is best rendered with maximum detail to let the viewers' eyes "feel" the textures and details in the scene and discover the little hidden "Easter Eggs" that I did not see when shooting the piece.  These are little hidden treasures from the scene.

NOTE: If this is your first visit to the mosaics collection please read the rest of the introduction for data on using the zoom function.

When you click on a thumbnail below, it will take you to a larger reference version of the file with some background data on the image and how (and with what) it was originally created.  It will also tell you what engine is being used to display and zoom in on the final image.  Up to around a gigapixel I've used "Zoomify" as the display engine.  For larger ones, I'm using the Gigpan Systems web based engine to house and present the mosaics. 

Click anywhere on that reference photo and a new window will open up with its own controls at the bottom of the image for zooming in on it.  You can see the full photo or small sections of it.  At the top left will be a thumbnail with a blue rectangle showing you the area of the image you are viewing on screen.

As you zoom in, it is taking a lot of bandwidth and computer horsepower to tile the new sharp view.  It will come up soft but give it a moment or two (depending on the speed of your internet at the moment) and it will snap in sharp. Be patient.  There can be several thousand of these small 'tiles' that make up the enlarged images.

When you are through viewing the photo, use the "Back" button of your browser or the "Backspace" key (PC) to return.


Initially this was simply a wide view of a scene shot with a camera taking a long thin rectangular view. But in the digital world Panoramas are usually assembled from multiple frames "stitched" side by side to create the complete view.

Sometimes referred to as a "multi-row panorama," a mosaic is an image in which the full scene was shot in smaller segments and then stitched together.  The resolution gain can be enormous.  For example, ten frames from a 12 megapixel camera will yield an image with the resolution of a 120 megapixel camera (minus some overlap for each frame.)

Technically a gigapixel image is one containing a billion pixels or more but it has copme to also loosely refer to any very large digital image containing anywhere close to a gigapixel size.  They can be created several ways: by shooting large format film (8x10 and larger) then scanning at high resolution or by stitching multiple frames from smaller film or digital arrays.  They can be either a panorama or mosaic in approach but are characterized by extreme resolution and usually designed for gigantic prints or computer display..

To produce a panorama or mosaic that contains visual elements from front to back, you need a "Spherical Panoramic Head" for your tripod.  This allows you to pivot the camera both horizontally and vertically on the lens's optical axis.  If you do not do this then every frame is actually taken from a slightly different perspective and elements will not line up correctly due to differing spatial relationships. 

For the money, I think the best bet, especially for the first-timer trying this type of imagery, is the Panosaurus (and it has a wonderful name).  It is under $100.00 and you can get an additional discount using my name in the order.  It is made from extruded PVC and so will not handle really heavy cameras but has no trouble with my 5D and heavier Zeiss lenses..  It does not have click detents but does have a printed scale down to 5 degrees that has worked just fine for me.  For more precision but at over 5 times the cost,  look at the offerings by Nodal Ninja.  (There are, by the way, such heads that are a LOT more money still...  )  The latest entry into the field is the Gigapan Epic.  This is a  robotic spherical panoramic tripod head, which, with its proprietary software, automates the shooting of mosaics and makes practical the shooting and display of huge mosaics that are often well over a gigabyte in size.

Mosaic Index    

"Old Reliable"
10 Frame (5x2) Mosaic
  Nikon e5700 (5 Mp SLR-Type)

(This is my very first mosaic)



"Dawn, Merced River at Happy Isles"
27 Frame (9x3) Mosaic
  Canon 20D (8.2 Mp) APS sensor
   85mm Canon EF f/1.8 lens

"Casa Del Prado Museum Facade"
54 Frame (9x6) Mosaic
  Canon 20D (8.2 Mp) APS sensor
   80mm Zeiss-Hasselblad f/2.8

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