Tokyo 360° Panorama

Tokyo is a complex place that defies easy categorization, or for that matter, typical still photography.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

So photographer Jeffrey Martin went with something else.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

He’s produced a 150-gigapixel panoramic image of the city that’s packed with zoomable detail.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

Martin is a founder of 360Cities, an online platform for photographers to share their own large-scale panoramas and techniques.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

He’s been making this type of photography for a decade, before, as he points out, Google Street View was released.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

The main advantage of spherical panoramic photography is how it can capture a sprawling landscape in one format while preserving all of its contradictions.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

It gives you, Martin says, "a kind of virtual tour of a whole city."

Tokyo 360° Panorama

The image is made up of 8,000 individual photos, all taken from the top of the Tokyo Tower.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

Martin used a high-res 7D SLR, equipped with a 400mm lens, to capture all of Tokyo’s quirky details.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

It took him six hours spread over two days to snap all of the photos, which he then pieced together on his "supercomputer," loaded with 192GB of RAM.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

The final image is 600,000 pixels wide. If it was printed out, it would be 328 feet wide and 164 feet tall.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

You can zoom in on objects up to 25km away.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

Doing so is loads of fun and will definitely kill your work productivity.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

You can scan the roof of office buildings that dot the city’s business district.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

And even, almost creepily, peer in on individual work stations.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

Also, you can spy on apartment terraces.

Tokyo 360° Panorama

Or just scan the streets for anything out of the ordinary.

Co.Design

This Panoramic View Of Tokyo Is The Second-Largest Photo Ever

Photographer Jeffrey Martin has produced a panorama of Tokyo that’s too large to comprehend. Really, try it.

Jeffrey Martin has been making panoramic maps for 10 years now. His perspective pre-dates—and produces results comparable to, in some cases better than—Google Street View. It’s certainly bigger. He produced a picture of London, for example, that some say is the largest photograph (320 gigapixels) ever made.

Now Martin, the founder of 360Cities, a platform for larger-than-life international photography, has unveiled a 150-gigapixel panorama of Tokyo, of both a scale and a fidelity to detail that will melt your brain. If you think you can comprehend the size of it, consider this: Months after beginning the composition, Martin has himself yet to inspect every part of the image.

The panorama was shot from the top of Tokyo Tower, the highly identifiable communications structure that looms over the Minato ward. From here, Martin marshalled excellent views of the city’s chaotic and eclectic downtown. For two days last September, he holed up at the peak of the tower with a high-res 7D SLR, a 400mm lens, and something he calls a “camera robot.” The latter controls the shutter function, which it fires at intervals to capture thousands of images, making for extremely precise and consistent photography over large sites. The panorama was completed by fusing two separate photo composites:

“The first attempt took four hours and the second attempt took two hours,” Martin tells Co.Design. He adds that Tokyo Tower management would not let him exceed their time limit, which effectively forced him to work twice as fast as is his norm. “In the end I had to use some photos from both attempts to get a full, seamless, final 360° image.”

Of course, the on-site photography is only one component of the months-long process. Post-production takes up a considerable chunk of time when you’re working with an image 600,000 pixels wide—double the maximum image size Photoshop can handle. Martin collated the 8,000 individual shots he captured in Tokyo on his supercomputer, a Fujitsu Celsius R920 workstation with 192GB of RAM. (By comparison, your laptop is probably pushing 16GB.) Even so, the computer needed some 12 weeks to process the entire panorama.

But for Martin and the 360Cities’ community, the intensive process is just part of what makes panoramas exceptional. “The medium seemed, from the beginning, inherently geographic," says Martin, about the pairing of his photographic specialty with cityscapes. "A spherical image describes one point in space only, whereas a normal photo of a building could perhaps have been shot from any number of places nearer or farther away,” he explains. By combining panoramic images, the reach of his camera is expanded into “a kind of virtual tour of a whole city.”

With this Tokyo image, Martin realized a long-standing dream of photographing a city that he finds fascinating, complex, and almost endless. “The dense urban areas extend beyond the horizon, even when you’re looking from the top of a skyscraper,” he says. “At the same time, there are lots of little streets with small houses, narrow alleys, and so on. It’s a city where regular people are still living among the huge buildings, so it’s quite special in this respect.”

If printed, the final image would be 328 feet wide and 164 feet tall. Exploring it in your browser, however, allows you to zoom in on rooftops, office buildings, street-crossing pedestrians, and other sights up to 25 km (15.5 miles) away. Go ahead and try it. Just don’t expect to get any work done for the rest of the afternoon.

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