Making of: step 1, the shooting

After 16 months of waiting on the weather, the D Day had finally arrived. All the conditions were in the right place at the right time on September 8th, 2009.
The Paris 26 Gigapixels project has 2 goals :

  1. Make the most beautiful gigapixel photo of Paris
  2. Create the biggest image ever stitched

8:00 AM Rallying the whole team at the bottom of the tower of Saint Sulpice. The day promises to be exceptional, everybody is crossing their fingers that the weather remains sunny throughout the day. The tower was being restored so Martin asked the foreman if we could use the crane to mount the equipment on top of the tower. Request granted, we were without our bags to begin the ascent of the tower.

9 :15 AM We set up the motorized panoramic head on the parapet of the tower. We Installed  2 Canon 5D Mark II (21.1 MP) on it, each with a 300 mm f4.0 with a tele converter in order to get a  600mm /f8.0 needed to beat the record.  We used 2 cameras simply to reduce the shooting time in half.

The cameras were set as follows:

  • 300mm f4.0 with a tele converter 2x (equivalent 600mm f8.0)
  • Manual focus. We used the Live View (zoom and pan) to get a very precise focus control.
  • Priority diaphragm F13 (to have a bigger depth of field)
  • Iso 800
  • Speed 1/800 in order to reduce the heat haze
  • Recording in RAW
  • Compact Flash 16GB
  • The motorized head triggers the cameras.

9: 30 Setting the panoramic head (horizontal field angle: 219.75 ° and 38.49 ° vertical). According to preliminary estimations with  a 30% overlapping between images we got:

  • 138 columns by 17 rows for a total of 2346 photos and for a shooting time around 2:30.

Unfortunately during the adjustment we found that one Canon takes blurred images.  Is this the fault of the lens or the tele converter? We didn’t have time to ask these questions. We must make a decision: cancel the shot or continue with one camera….

10:00 The decision was made to continue with one camera. Everyone was ready to spend 5 hours on the top of the tower. The shooting strategy was to take pictures horizontally (left to right) from the horizon and then down to the foot of the tower. At the beginning of each line we paused the panoramic head to manually adjust the  focus through the Live View  and change the memory card if necessary.

13:30 The team supplies (Alex & Martin) came back with sandwiches and some drinks. This break was welcome, however, Lionel and Arnaud  always kept an eye on the panoramic head because nothing could stop the shot.

14:45: The stress falls. We could finally breathe, it was finished.  We only needed to copy the memory card to  the laptop one last time.

15:15: The light was so exceptional that we decided to redo the first 2 lines of the shooting. This series of images may be used in assembly later (just in case).

16:50: The equipment was clustered in the middle of the tower. Martin signaled the crane operator and in no time the equipment had been laid at the bottom of the tower.

17:00 Everyone had the same question in mind: did we forget to shoot a photo ? The question will be answered in step 2 “The stitching”

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88 Responses to “Making of: step 1, the shooting”

  1. eloa Says:

    Good job guys! Love the project! The view of the city is simply breathtaking!! You have my respect for the job you have done. Btw, what’s the name of the song you used on the gigapixel website?
    Lovely tune, seems to hear from the movie, Amelia of Montmarte.

  2. Josh von Staudach Says:

    Sharpness is disappointing. My experience with the 2x converter is to stop down to f22 to get sharp images. And I guess you didn’t use mirror lockup because of time consumption.

  3. Jon Says:

    I wouldn’t listen to Josh, there’s nothing disappointing about this. (I can talk because I have nearly the same equipment as the site owner) He’s probably just one of those anal pixel peepers. The images are stunning and the the amount of detail really takes you on a fun journey of imagery. I’ve never been to Paris, but this panorama really takes you there! Thank you for bringing Paris into our homes.

  4. Oberlehrer Says:

    There is a picture of Dresden (Germany/Allemagne) also with 26 giga pixels.

  5. Dave Says:

    Boring. What is the point as there is no real artistic value in the panorama? Shooting a smog covered ‘nice’ city in high resolution is boring. I’ll bet the gigapan system can do the same with much less effort.

  6. Devan Says:

    The photo is quite amazing and I love the detail you’ve managed to get!

  7. Scott Nilsson Says:

    Superb vision, concept, planning and execution – and patience: your waiting for the perfect light coupled with your control of heat and haze are unparalleled in a metropolitan panorama – huge congratulations). We also loved the music, and the information links. Very exciting project and presentation: thank you! Scott and Kristy Nilsson, Atlanta

  8. Sapolini Says:

    You are the “putos amos”!! GREAT WORK! J’ aime Paris!

  9. DaMixa Says:

    “We set up the motorized head”…
    More in depth and full details about this head please….

    Great Pic, Great Work, Love Paris!

  10. frank katzer Says:

    perfect job. this pic is super-interesting – as if i’m there…
    and of course: perfect soundtrack selection!
    thank you!

  11. Paul Lodewijk Says:

    Really excellent project, it gives the ultimate view over this beautiful city, the heart of France.

  12. Jose A Aguilar Says:

    Me parece una cosa maravillosa y les aplaudo a los fotografos tan profesionales que hicieron esto para maravillarnos.

  13. Angelo Secci Says:

    great Photo, very nice….browsing here

    I,ve found a GIANT TURTLE …its a joke??!

  14. Dan Petre Says:

    “It is not the critic who counts…”, T Roosevelt, 23rd of April 1910, Sorbonne Paris
    Well done.

  15. Adam Says:

    How many images comprise this panorama?
    Thank you!

  16. Francisco de la Rosa de Font Reaulx Says:

    This project is amazing and takes advantageof technology to show all the people in the world the beauty and magic of the greatest city on earth.

    Congratulations and i hope this project will be repeated on other cities, as New York and London.

    In my opinion is an example of what we can do to make this world more linked and peaceful.

  17. Jenn Says:

    I’m visiting Paris for the first time in two month’s time (May) – thank you so much for giving me a sneak peak of what I’ll see! And I love the turtle (see Angelo Secci above) – I assume you put it there?

  18. paul Says:

    very good!

  19. Bruno Says:

    Fantastic !
    Thank you.

  20. hdodx Says:

    great job!

  21. Rob Postma Says:

    A job well done! Absolutely brilliant! I look forward to further projects of this kind. Did you hide animals in the picture? I also found the turtle and a large squirrel….

    Thanks guys!

  22. Federica Says:

    Amazing job! Thank you

  23. simon Says:

    pretty cool..can’t see my apartment though..
    thank you from Paris!!

  24. Gustavo Galván Duque Says:

    Thanks for the magnificent view of Paris.
    Great job! Congratulations.

    México City

  25. Lukas Says:

    Great job, well done, you never stop exploring :-] Just one thing: try & come also to a smog-free (and during most of the year almost humidity-free) city, I suggest Trieste, which I got to know going around Europe in search of dry air and perfect visibility at sea-level and interesting or remarkable (for various reasons in the case of Trieste) landscapes :-)

  26. Salvatore Farina Says:

    Straordinario, foto molto bella.

  27. Eric Says:

    incredible work, it’s amazing!!

  28. Aurelio Laloni Says:

    Congratulations and thank you for the stunning work!

  29. Aurelio Laloni Says:

    is this a french cheese?

  30. alexandre from lebanon Says:

    Great job guys, I am proud to have the same EOS 5D mark II , did you happen to know what went wrong with the second EOS was it the body the lens or the tele converter??

    By the way for eloa (first post ) the song used it is “La Valse d’Amélie” and the artist Yann Tiersen and the Album Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain hope to get an answer to my post

  31. Jaap Aap Says:

    Mooie foto ook de details zijn goed zichtbaar
    Zoek de schildpad op het balkon

    mvg Jaap

  32. Wouter Lievens Says:

    Truly gorgeous!

  33. Niall Scully Says:

    i found 2 UFO’s in your photo, real or not great job!

  34. Kenya Says:

    thank you very much for bringing me Paris! this is lovely!

  35. siup Says:

    why iso 800 ? not 100 ?
    why 300mm+teleconventer not just straight 600mm lens
    why f13 not f8 (best details performance)

  36. Dan Says:

    This is amazing. It brought me back. Thank you!

  37. Schorschi Says:

    Great project.

    What speaks against making a 360° panorama?

    Georg in Florida

  38. Juergen Says:

    this is SOOOO fantastic.
    I love Paris.
    Thank you very much.
    Great Job
    Juergen, Germany

  39. Charlie Delta Says:

    Nice work!
    Check here how they did it:

  40. Burkhard Says:

    What a great job! Thanks for this fantastic view over paris.

  41. PKHG Says:

    Extraordinaire! Phantastisch!

  42. Ewan Whatarmy Says:

    “why iso 800 ? not 100 ?”
    because the shutter speed had to be kept low, avoiding sensor overheating and reducing motion blur

    “why 300mm+teleconventer not just straight 600mm lens”
    because they cost a fortune, are hard to find, are huge and heavy, and a large aperture was not required or desirable for this?

    “why f13 not f8 (best details performance)”
    depth of field.

  43. Luiz Fernando de Souza pinto Says:

    I hope you make the same in other countries around the world. Stunning!

  44. edux Says:

    I find a rabbit…

  45. Dagoberto Mebius Says:

    C’est magnifique!
    Realmente um pioneirismo impressionante. Parabéns Arnald e sua equipe e ao pessoal técnico da Kolor.
    Vocês conseguiram realizar um tipo de arte comparável a arte exposta no Orsy e no Louvre.
    Conheço Paris, sou fã da França e estarei ai de volta ainda este ano.
    Dagoberto Mebius

  46. Helene M-B Says:

    BRAVO ! Belles photos, musique sympa, c’est Paris comme on aime le voir, depuis les toits…. Très belle performance technique aussi !

  47. edgard xavier Says:

    Simplesmente genial!
    Um belíssimo trabalho.
    Parabéns, vocês merecem.

  48. Ronaldo Says:

    Muito legal !!!

  49. Professor Says:

    Parabéns pelo trabalho.
    Nunca vi algo assim na internet. Realmente um ótimo projeto.
    Brasil – Minas Gerais

  50. Nestor Sander Says:

    Camera work of the first order. And a great reviver of memories for an American soldier who took a picture of De Gaulle and Churchill walking down the Champs Elysées on VE Day and on the same day heard Lily Pons sing the Marseillaise on the steps of the Garnier Opera House from the balcony of his office on the second floor of 2 Place de l’Opéra.

  51. Carlos Says:

    Projeto maravilhoso, parabens !
    Que Deus os ilumine para que sempre possam estar sensiveis a ideias e trabalhos tão magnificos como este.

    São José dos Campos/SP / Brasil

  52. Guto Says:

    Show… mto louco este trabalho…
    Linda cidade!

  53. Jorge Lepsch Says:

    Paris é maravilhosa vista de qualquer angulo mas opdermos ve-la de quase 360º e unimaginavel gostei muito parabéns a equipe do site.

  54. Андрей (Andrey) Says:

    Класс !!! Очень интересно ! Хочу в ПАРИЖ !

  55. Frank Butcher Says:

    This project was actually my idea.
    I was going to use Albert Square as a subject, but now I have seen this, I don’t think I will bother.

    Good work.

  56. Michele Angeletti Says:

    Fantastic job! The Easter Eggs are fantastic, 4 found, searching for the others

  57. Pete Wendt Says:

    It is a wonderful work. I would have wanted it shot on one of the 15 days of the year where just after a rain and the pollution / smog is gone. Great job.

  58. pedro rigotto Says:

    uau guys, this picture really is amazing, buuuuut, ya could make some others, of other cities, like Rio de Janeiro, Tokio, NY, Macchu Picchu, etc. Thanks!

  59. Antonio Lavelli Says:

    Simply amazing! I’m feeling like I was there … above the best town of my heart! Hoping the turtle isn’t real in such a small place …

  60. Andreas Bosch Says:

    Great photo! I have one question: Why did you choose St. Sulpice and not Tour Montparnasse?

  61. Benjunior Garcia Says:

    Espetacular! Um trabalho de vulto! Parabéns!

  62. mirmo from russia Says:

    Your work is impressive!!! That is more beaytifull than googlemaps)
    Nice job! Good luck!

  63. Ana Alice Pereira Says:

    Fantastico!Paris é maravilhosa e vocês estão de parabéns!Um trabalho maravilhoso.Obrigada por me fazer felíz ,viajei pelos olhos, maravilhada com tudo que via.Adorei a música também!
    Tudo muito lindo…Show de trabalho.

  64. Iosiff Stalin Says:

    Же не манш па си жур. Пур-ля-ля!

  65. Andreas Bosch Says:

    Great photo. But let me ask you one question: Why St. Sulpice and not Tour Montparnasse?

  66. Hipolito M. Wiseman Says:

    Getting adequate Laptop memory is very important to effectively run all the many applications that need to be run. People do see the difference clearly when they upgrade from a 512 MB to a 1GB or perhaps 2GB RAM.

  67. David Says:

    Absolutely remarkable!
    I could lose myself in that photograph!
    Well done.

  68. valeriedumaismessimeris Says:

    C’est magnifique!!!! J’adore la musique!!!!! C’est beau!!!!!

  69. valeriedumaismessimeris Says:

    C’est tres beau!!!

  70. Peter Russell-Smith Says:

    A brilliant project and I really enjoyed it as Paris is city that I know quite well from past visits.

  71. Easter Egg Says:

    So, where do we find the list of the Easter Eggs? How many are there?

  72. Jim Dinning Says:

    Hi Have been to Paris 4 or 5 times and this is just incredible !!! To be able to see all these wonderfull sites I have visited in one picture is amazing !!
    A keen amature photographer I look forward to your next “project ” JD

  73. Easter Egg Says:

    Oops, found them. Many people are discussing all 10 Easter eggs on the “Making of: step 3″ post (

  74. Ivar Johansson Says:

    Just Great – amazing. Nice job and nice music too. Good Luck to your next projekt (from the top of Eiffel Tower?)

  75. Yakubu Yari Says:

    I was in Paris between 1979-81 as a student ,but incredibly i can identify most of the famous places with your spectacular photograph. Je t’aime Paris.
    Give us another shots of New-York please.

  76. robbie Says:

    woww! Big brother is watching you!
    This is a fantastic piece of photography..

  77. Silvia Dumitrescu Says:

    I wish you had this up when I visited Paris! The only shame is that I did not manage to get this running on my Iphone, that would have been it…!

  78. lenghel gabriel Says:

    your work is distinguished, very nice job; many peoples of the world can see now the PARIS, a marvellous city of EUROPE


  79. Indy Says:

    Nice! At this time i just can remember to the 26 Giga. Pix. Photo from Dresden,Germany. Or the Panometers from Asisi.

  80. Delio Says:

    Great Job! Nice music! But… what amazed me most was the task of erasing every face and every car’s license plate to protect their privacy! We can see that the guy in the motorcycle is married but he’s not carrying his wife! Fortunately both faces had been blurred! Just joking! Very, very nice job.

  81. scootergrisen Says:


    Its realy amazing.

  82. Elaine Says:

    Hello. While searching the Net I found your web site. Helpful article. I find this info useful. Thanks a ton for the meaningful insights. I will thank the person who told me to visit your blog.

  83. Tomislav Says:

    Respect! What a great job, what a wonderful city, and Amelie’s soundtrack in the background. Thanks, you made my day :-)

  84. António da Cunha Says:

    INCROYABLE! Vraiment un travail super, mes félicitations sincères!

    Si l’église de Saint Sulpice a devenu fameuse après le Code Da Vinci, votre travail va la rendre encore plus fameuse!!!

    Sûrement un travail a voir et revoir et revoir….

    Merci pour me faire revivre mon enfance à Paris et les dimanches de messe à Saint Sulpice. :-)

    Très sincères salutations de Porto, Portugal

  85. Victor Says:

    Amazing picture.

    Hello every body

    We are a custom manufacturer for infinite programmable panoramic arms up to 4 cameras


  86. Sudan Says:

    Haha! The ten easter eggs are tricky.

    People have already found them :)

    If you have laods of time, try finding them. Or you can always google it out.

    Hint: Each easter egg has a small number next to it. right from 1 to 10 :)

  87. JOHN DONO Says:


  88. JOHN DONO Says:

    very exciting

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