Antarctic Panorama

Clicking on the above image will open a 2 MB JPG that is 8400 X 1998 pixel in size.
You will be able to scroll it and even make a fairly large print.
Please be aware that this image is copyrighted and is provided here for your own personal use only.
Commercial reproduction in any form is expressly prohibited.

One of the problems with sharing the experience of dramatic landscapes with others is the inability of even a moderately large print to convey the grandeur of some scenes. I felt that this would be the case as I stood on the deck of theOcean Novaas we sailed out of Marguerite Bay, south of the Antarctic Circle.

It was about 11pm, dinner was over, and most people were in the panoramic lounge chatting, working on their laptops, and having a nightcap. A few of us stood on deck watching the passing scene. What lay before us begged for a panorama, so I went to my cabin, retrieved the Phase One 645 camera with 75-150mm lens, and P65+ back.

I took thirteen frames with the camera held vertically, overlapping them by about 30%. The camera had been placed on manual exposure and manual focus. I tried to hold the horizon line as consistent as I could, since a tripod was out of the question on the deck of a ship. Too much vibration and movement. The human body is a much better shock absorber in these situations.

I’ve shot panos before and have always been impressed with the ability ofPhotoshop’s Photomergefunction to produce essentially perfect stitches in most circumstances. But given that the P65+ is a 60 Megapixel digital back producing 350MB files in 16 bit mode, had I gone too far? Could I actually stitch together thirteen 360 MB files?

I certainly couldn’t with my 15" Macbook Pro aboard ship, but after using Lightroom to produce moderate sized JPGs, I confirmed that given enough horsepower a perfect pano could be produced. I then looked forward to getting home and seeing what would result.

Finally loading the thirteen files intoMaczilla(my 10GB 2 X 3 Ghz Quad Core Mac Pro) it took 42 minutes forPhotoshop CS4to produce a 7 GB layered 32 bit file. Since nothing normally takes Maczilla more than a few seconds, this was clearly a heroic task for it. I’d done most basic image adjustments to the thirteen individual files in Lightroom, through synchronization of settings, so there was little to do afterward in Photoshop other than some slight cropping and then save the file out flattened and in 8 bit mode.

The end results was a 1GB file ready for printing that measured 34,815 X 8,280 pixels. This produced a 23" X 97" print at 360 PPI, as seen above and below. That’s eight feet wide!

I printed it on anEpson 7900usingIlford Gold Fiber Silkand then took the print intoSML Graphics, who are just around the corner from my gallery, for mounting onto Gatorboard.

The file that you can view and download, linked at the top of the page via clicking on the image, has beenreducedto 8,400 X 1,998 pixels, as well as sRGB and 8 bit mode with JPG compression. It’s still quite impressive, and you may wish to make a print, if you have a large format printer. You can make about a 24" wide print at 360 PPI. Just keep in mind thatthis is only about a quarter of the resolution of the original file.

The eight-foot-long print is currently on display atThe Luminous Landscape Galleryin Toronto, and is part of my new show titledSurprise & Delight, which opened on March 12, 2009.

March, 2009