Yosemite Pano Project – part 1: the project

Eric, Scott and the Gigapan Unit on Eagle PeakI had the honor of participating in an amazing digital imaging project this weekend, right here in Yosemite. Yosemite’s the kind of place where you get to see a lot of pretty large, fancy camera equipment and some pretty all-star photographers, on a semi-regular basis, but this project blew my mind.

The groundwork was laid by the xRez team – Eric Hanson and Greg Downing, whose work spread like wildfire through my little Yosemite climbing community when they chose Half Dome and El Capitan as subjects, although they also have many other amazing images of vast landscapes on their sites. As one friend commented, “it’s almost like you can see the individual holds”. Not quite. But close.

But what if, instead of 1 shot, you took a whole series of shots, from all over the Valley, ranging from Cloud’s Rest, to the summit of El Cap to Dewey Point? In collaboration with our Park Geologist, Greg Stock, who will be able to use these images to monitor things like rock fall within the park, they collected/created equipment for 70+ people planned a multi-day event, provided training and set us loose on the park. Can you image the pictures that are going to come out of this project?

It all seems pretty cool from my low-tech climber perspective . I get to go hiking to a place I’d never been before (Eagle Peak), maybe meet some new folks, help carry some nifty camera equipment, and get some bragging rights when the whole thing sees the light of day. Pretty nice day.

It was my fellow volunteers, the ones that flew in from all over the country to participate that were really excited. Not because of the pictures, but because this is truly groundbreaking work in the field of digital imaging. Huh. Imagine that.

The only way I can think about it is based on a TED talk that Tom and I came across serendipitously about some new jaw-dropping 3D imaging software from Microsoft. No, really. Amazing. Watch the video, it’s worth taking the time to download. This is the kind of crazy cool stuff these guys are working on, and then you add the immense resolution of these gigapixel images…

They say that will start having something to show in August. I can hardly wait.