On January 20, 2009, photographer David Bergman covered his first inauguration and took a photo (actually 220 photos) using his Canon PowerShot G10 camera and then "stitched" them all together to create a 2 GB 1,475 megapixal photo (59,783 x 24,658 pixels). That's HUGE.
Big is good, but what is exciting about these shots is that the viewer can look at the whole photo from a distance or zoom into specific people in the photo. (Click here to see the dynamic photo.) It is similar to the kind of technology that you see in Google Maps or Google Earth but the typical photography enthusiast can do this.
The trick wasn't in his camera but in GigaPan technology. This Carnegie Mellon University GigaPan technology includes a robotic arm and the Gigapan Stitcher software ($450). Bergman attached the robotic arm to a railing. The Gigapan will take the photos for you. You just have to designate the upper left corner and the lower right corner. Press the GigiPan button and it will automatically take the photos (video tutorial here). When Bergman's photosession was complete, it took over 6 and a half hours for the Gigapan to stitch together the 220 images on his MacBook Pro.
GigaPan has set up an agreement with Google. Google Earth will begin including Gigapan panorama photos. This began in 2007 and I haven't checked it out yet, but should be rather exciting for seeing closeups of places in the world.
Taking closeups like this can be a little scary as a continuing intrusion into our privacy, but it should also be considered a new opportunity for "the rest of us" to venture into new photographic territories at a reasonable price.
What do you think? How can we use the Gigapan Technologies in our educational settings?