From NASA to Your Photo Kit: Robotic Device Makes Humongous Images

South Africa’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful — and the most important — gardens in the world. Created in 1913, Kirstenbosch was the first botanical garden devoted to the conservation of indigenous plants and trees. Today, Kirstenbosch boasts several thousand species, some rare and endangered and a few that are extinct in the wild. The sprawling garden is difficult to capture in images. (Although I’ve tried — see my book of Kirstenbosch photos below.) The best collections of photos produce a mosaic conveying something of Kirstenbosch’s eclectic beauty. That’s great, but frustrating to photographers who want more.

That’s where GigaPan technology shines. Using a robotic invented for NASA, the GigaPan unit creates a massive photo by stitching together individual images to form one enormous one. I took the image above at Kirstenbosch last August, combining 126 photos to make an image that when printed will measure 66-feet wide by 13-feet high. (Yes, I hope to print it someday — maybe reduced to “just” 31′ by 6′).

Look for individual flowers, people, or animals by zooming in using the controls on the left. Or click on the “snapshots” to be taken automatically to the subject shown.

Scientists have been using GigaPan to identify insects in the rain forest and for other research. The device — which is priced from $300 — also gives photographers a powerful new tool to create giant panoramas with incredible detail.

Visit the GigaPan Store

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