In September 2012, Jeffrey Martin – a photographer from London-based news organization The Guardian – shot over 10,000 pictures of Tokyo from the on top of the Tokyo Tower, and then stitched them together into a single, 150-gigapixel, 360-degree panoramic image, which is now the second largest photo in existence. The largest photo in existence was taken by Martin as well, a ginormous 320-gigapixel rendering of London taken from atop the BT Tower.
Martin, the founder of web company 360-cities, says that he shoots 360-degree panoramic images almost exclusively. “To me, it is the perfect kind of photography, capturing everything that exists from a single point in space,” Martin said. “It is inherently geographic, in describing a single point on the earth, and in far greater detail than anyone could experience with the naked eye. I think it is amazing that I can extend the human senses in this way,” he added. The Tokyo image is fascinating in its detail. The full resolution pic allows you to see around 15.5 miles from the tower to the horizon, a total of about 193 square miles, which is a huge portion of the Tokyo metropolis. Martin’s image housed on 360-cities allows you to zoom in and appreciate the detail of the full resolution image, in this case a man sleeping on the ground after a night out, a couple of guys playing baseball, and a lot of Tokyo residents just going about their day.
Like his London panorama, this 600,000-pixel wide monster of an image was shot with a Canon 7D and some robotic help. He had 7 cameras to work with in London, but in Tokyo he only used one. The camera and its 400mm f/5.6L lens were mounted on top of a Clauss Rodeon VR Head ST robotic panorama head. The expensive robotic head allows Martin to turn the camera by precise amounts using powerful stepper motors. For this shoot, the camera was moving, simultaneously focusing, and shooting frames, all without stopping. This speeds up the whole process which otherwise might take him 10 times longer.
In the end, the final panoramic image was realized by stitching together roughly 10,000 images with a 12-core Fujitsu Celsius R920 workstation that needed 192GB of RAM. And even that monster computer needed 12 weeks just to process and render the Martin’s 360-degree photo of Tokyo.