This week we dive into the world of giant photos that give you the chance to immerse yourself within a virtual reality city, without leaving your seat. Then, zoom in to see details such as flowers and license plates 1000s of meters away. It really helps to give a sense of scale and inspire your designs.

In my blog post about the skyscrapers, we looked at the colossal Citic Tower. The problem is visualizing the impact a building like that has on the city without spending €100s on flights. Sure, we can look a hundred photos, but it’s not the same. What if I told you: you can look at 8,700 photos, all at the same time? There is a new trend of super-size images that allow people to see every window, paving slab and car in a city.

Big Pixels

On the BigPixel Technology website, you’ll find a range of projects, including Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, and many more cityscapes. There are also landscapes, marathons, a music festival and even a rather terrifying close up of a spider. Yikes!

The Citic Tower in Beijing, zoom in to see the details of the individual structural beams.

The 80.6 gigapixels pixels, Beijing photograph that was taken from the Central Radio Tower. Here you can zoom into the Citic Tower and see its construction in minute detail and get a true sense of the impact a skyscraper such as that, has on the landscape.

More than double the size is the Bigpixel Shanghai photograph at 195 gigapixels. It is made from 8,700 photos, took 2 months to complete in 2015, and was taken from the Oriental Pearl Tower. When you zoom in it is possible to distinguish the individual flowers 100s of meters away and even, people taking in the view on top of the Shanghai World Finance Center, over a kilometer away.

From over a kilometer away I can zoom in to see a man resting his hands on his hips as he takes in the view from the Shanghai World Finance Center. Or, get a close up of the flowers in a plant pot next to a zebra crossing that is almost invisible from the starting viewpoint.

The Bigpixel photographs even feature in a Where’s Wally style, Minions game!

Largest picture in the world

But 195 gigapixels doesn’t even come close to the largest image ever taken, the current winner is the 846 gigapixel image of Kuala Lumpur. It is comprised of around 55,000 photographs and was created in 2014. The image of Kuala Lumpur is available in both day and night-time mode, with an even more impressive zoom factor. The photos were taken at a rate of 1 per second by a robot and were mounted in 4 locations at the top of the Menara tower, the tallest telecom tower in Southeast Asia.

Kuala Lumpur cityscape, at night, in full 360° rotation, showing the Petronas Twin Towers in all their splendor.

The web page also offers options to show different informational points on the image. Including, but not limited to; restaurants, shopping malls, offices, banks, temples, and theme parks.

http://www.panaxity.com/?s=1-kl-tower
This is more than just a photograph, you can navigate to see points of interest on the interactive image and learn more.

Prague

The third largest image in the world is the 405 gigapixel panorama of Prague taken in November 2018 and comprises around 2,018 photographs. It’s credited to one Jeffrey Martin.

The clock tower, starts as less than a speck. It becomes a so highly detailed I can easily tell that it’s nearly lunchtime.

For those of you curious, the 2nd largest photograph ever taken is the 681 gigapixel photograph of the Moon, made with 10,581 photos. It was taken by NASA with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in 2009.

London Calling

The “Gherkin” pocking through Shoreditch. Just round the corner from where the Bricsys 2018 conference was held.

As an English woman, the 320 gigapixel London scape is a personal favorite of mine, showing London in all its grey drizzly glory. It was taken in 2012 and released in 2013. Currently, it stands as the 6th largest image ever created. This and the Prague image are available at 360gigapixels.com, a highly interactive website that includes some amusing comments from eagle-eyed visitors.

Obviously, given the time frame these photographs are taken over, the images are not without their peculiarities. The more curious will notice clones and duplicate vehicles, that serve to only add to the interest of the photographs.

Either they are cloning people, or this photo demonstrates an interesting time jump between photographs.

Feeling inspired?

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Tl;dr:

Largest photo in the world 846 gigapixel image of Kuala Lumpur, 2,018 photographs. The 2nd largest photograph ever taken is the 681 gigapixel photograph of the Moon. The 3rd largest is the 405 gigapixel panorama of Prague. You can also view The 80.6 gigapixels pixel, Beijing image, the 320 gigapixel London scape and the 195 gigapixels Shanghai photo.