Paris 26 Gigapixels as lived by its photographer Arnaud Frich

Trying to break a world record is never an easy task and obviously the project we got ourselves into wasn’t easy to carry out. We knew from the start that we would have to shoot over 2000 images. Despite this fact I quickly suggested working with RAW files because of the substantial improvement the format would bring to the quality of the final JPG images we would be using for the stitching. After a bit of hesitation, we decided to take this road. Working with RAW files allowed me, when processing the 2346 individual files, to play with various optimization parameters during that first step: the white balance, noise reduction, highlight management and harmonization of the various rows and columns of source images.  We knew that the actual shooting conditions were such that we would have to make some technical choices on location.

Since the shooting was taking place from a high point since we wanted to have a view of the whole city, I knew we would have one paradox to deal with: we needed a very nice sunny, clear day with good atmospheric transparency; but a sunny day means that the air would warm up. Even if we would be working very early in the morning before the sun would warm up the atmosphere too much, it would just be impossible to finish early because of the large amount of images we needed to shoot. With a 600 mm lens the atmospheric warm up would translate into turbulences that would invariably degrade image quality and sharpness when viewing them at 100%.   The difference switching from a 300mm to a 600mm is striking!  In order to keep this problem under control, the astronomers know that the shutter speed must be kept to the shortest possible amount. However, we needed to maintain an acceptable depth of field.  I then decided on the following compromise: 800 ISO, F13 with a 600mm lens to shoot by a bright sunny day using a shutter speed of 1/800sec. Even if I was going to be using a Canon 5D Mark II I knew I would end up with some noise in the final images.  I also knew that I would be able to remove it using RAW files and Photoshop’s Camera Raw.  The final result is quite acceptable!

Then, always looking to keep the noise under control, I worked with a shutter speed of 1/800sec in order to slightly overexpose my shots. A speed of 1/1600 at 800 ISO would have been OK in regards of the light conditions on the day the shooting took place, but using 1/800sec allowed me to slightly darken my images in Camera Raw and recover the highlights at the same time. Finally, overexposing allowed me to adjust my white balance without modifying my files and this would have become a lot more complex if I had been working with JPG files from the start. I suggested to my partners in this adventure to develop the image with a slight warm tone so we could reunite the pictures taken in the morning with the ones taken at the end of the afternoon that had a warmer tone. Harmonizing the 17 rows and the 138 columns of images was performed quite comfortably using groups of images in Camera Raw and then synchronizing them. The slight remaining differences were processed directly during the stitching process by Autopano Giga. I am still amazed by the quality of the final harmonization. Especially when you know that the first shot was taken at 11:30 am and the last at 04:30 pm!

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18 Responses to “Paris 26 Gigapixels as lived by its photographer Arnaud Frich”

  1. henri molle Says:

    WOW! Nice job everybody!!!
    I have a question: how do you deal with the different light conditions that a long photoshoot gives you? How do you make the whole thing match as far as exposure, angle of the light (shadows) and even White balance? Did you change all that between rows to?

  2. Scott Nilsson Says:

    Astonishing, Arnaud & Co: c’est très, très jolie! We loved the Harlem pano, and this one is simply breathtaking. Our expat friends from Paris will weep when they see this… Thank you for the vision, and the superb execution: you share the new world of of photography in a most extraordinary way. What’s next?! Scott and Kristy Nilsson, Atlanta

  3. Ariel Says:

    This is absolutely amazing!
    Congratulations from a mexican who loves Paris.
    Remarkable, magnificent work.

  4. George Jones Says:

    Incredible! Just incredible! As impressive as the final product is, reading the narrative on how it was accomplished is just as impressive. I visited Paris six weeks after the Paris 26 shoot and wish that my photos looked even half as good as the panorama that you’ve produced. Again, KUDOS to all involved in this magnificent project.

  5. Ferruccio Says:

    I’m an italian living in Paris and I spent 1 hour to look for my “roof”. I coudn’t (because no high often) but I found the building on face :) Very very nice job (yours … but mine too :P )

  6. Yves Bodson Says:

    Great job. Very good realization for such a large project. Also the geometries are quite good given the angle…
    I hope meeting you sometimes in the future. I am working on a similar project on Madrid, just the French were faster to do it..:-))

  7. Nancy Says:

    Wow, this is really amazing! Véry nice job!!!

  8. Wanda Says:

    I spent over an hour gazing at this masterpiece. I’ve spent all my life on the flat plains of Texas, where my closest neighbor is a mile away. This makes me want to visit Paris!

  9. rodney jonk Says:

    I would like to visit Paris, some day. This will show me the way.

  10. Alex Says:

    Beautiful photos and site! Thank you very much!
    What’s the next city? :-)

  11. Joel Says:

    Thanks for this website. Absolut fantastic!

  12. Dagoberto Mebius Says:

    Amigo Arnaud Frich,

    Parabéns pelo seu excelente e fantástico trabalho.
    Sua obra é comparavel as obras magníficas que se encontram nos melhores museus e galerias de Paris.
    Um abraço,
    Dagoberto Mebius

  13. Carlos Alberto Pereira Says:

    No doubt Paris is the most beautiful city in the world! Thanks to all the staff.

  14. Olavo Moretzsohn Says:

    Je suis passionne pour Paris et ton travail est super car d´ici du Brésil je pu voir mon amour…
    Felicitations pour tous qu´on travailler dans ce projet inoubliable….PARABENS PRA VOCES…

    Olavo Moretzsohn

  15. Per Says:

    The tops of almost chimneys look very alike with orange tubes! Is this THE parisian way of building chimneys?

  16. Папа Саид Says:

    Великолепная, сногсшибательная, невероятная, фантастическая работа! Прекрасный, завораживающий и заставляющий влюбиться в себя город! У меня появилась новая мечта – обязательно посетить Париж!
    Ребята, Вы просто молодцы!!!

  17. José Eduardo Astolphi Says:

    Simplesmente maravilhoso,, foi maravilhoso relembrar…

    José Eduardo Astolphi
    Campinas – SP

  18. Aaed Kayal Says:

    Very Interesting , Nice Work

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