High Resolution

Mar 31, 2006 5:55pm

Scouring the earth for a decent story this morning, we found a very good one.  Graham Flint, a physicist who spent much of his career working on reconnaissance systems and laser rangefinders, has semi-retired to something oh-so-ambitious: photographing the world–as much as he can of it–in exquisite detail.

He and his wife, Catherine Aves, have been going around the country with a giant camera he designed, taking pictures of the greatest landmarks and vistas, recording them, he says, before they change.  He says he wants to create a visual record, "so that our grandchildren will be able to see North America exactly as it was at the turn of the century, in incredible detail."

The camera is something to contemplate.  If you have a digital camera, it may offer resolution of five or eight megapixels; the Flints’ camera records the equivalent of 4,000 megapixels.  They shoot large-format film (digital technology is still too cumbersome for their needs) and scan the pictures into computer. 

Along the way, they’ve picked up an important advocate in Michael T. Jones, the man who co-founded what is now Google Earth. 

They call their effort The Gigapxl Project, and they’ve posted some of their images at http://www.gigapxl.org.  Best thing to do, if you’re curious, is to click "Image Gallery" on the left.  The detail is…well, look for yourself. 

Flint said he’s doing it for the future.  He hopes to take pictures of many of the world’s 788 most treasured places as listed by UNESCO.  Someday, inevitably, he says, many of them will be gone, and he’d like to record them now in the kind of detail that might be useful for virtual-reality technologies that do not exist yet. 

We put together a piece for the WNT webcast; you can find it HERE.

–Ned

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