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How An Industrial Robot Took 900-Million-Pixel Portraits Of The Human Face

How An Industrial Robot Took 900-Million-Pixel Portraits Of The Human Face

Portrait photography has always been a hands-on craft: The photographer guides (or, in some cases, coerces) his subjects into assuming the poses that best fit his vision. Here, photographer Daniel Boschung takes a different approach: he sits behind a computer while another tool does the hard work.

That tool is a ABB industrial robot–the sort you might find on an assembly line–tethered to a Canon EOS Mark ll camera with a 180mm macro lens. The robot is preprogrammed to take photographs, and those photographs feed directly to Boschung’s computer. As the robot snaps away, Boschung acts like more of a technician, watching over the photo feed and ensuring that the lighting remains consistent.

The ultra high-resolution images that result are actually a composite of 600 separate photographs, collectively capturing a face in a resolution of 900 million pixels (!). The robot can accurately position itself inches away from the subject (who often sits emotionless for the shoot’s 30-minute duration), something which is quite poetic–an emotionless picture taken by an emotionless tool.


Is this a game changer for portrait photography? The technique has its disadvantages. You can’t expect much spontaneity with a person sitting motionless for half an hour. But for capturing subjects in absurd detail, you could certainly do worse.RO