Credit: GigaPan/Stephanie Jenouvier
Adélie Penguin Colony
Stephanie Jenouvier, a researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, shot this 1.39-gigapixel panorama of an Antarctic Adélie penguin colony.
Tucked away in the image are surveying researchers, hungry birds and countless waddling penguins.
The colony spreads across Cape Crozier, one of the easternmost tips of Ross Island in Antarctica, a location many scientists call home for months at a time.
Jenouvier "has really gone in and captured how we do research in Antarctic with her images,” Nourbaksh said. “They’re always great portraits of science and culture.”
Credit: GigaPan/Jason Buccheim
When this school of Salema fish, also called “dream fish” for their hallucinogenic toxins, swam toward photographer Jason Buccheim, he quickly snapped 10 photos to create this wrap-around panorama (in addition to one from inside the school).
Such schools of fish are often called “bait balls,” because dolphins, tuna and other fast ocean predators will simultaneously attack the fish from many directions, keeping them from escaping.
“Underwater gigapanography is one direction we’re really interested in pursuing,” Nourbaksh said. “Just imagine doing them on a coral reef over and over. It would be a dream to be able to show a detailed time-lapse of reef bleaching.”
The ability to capture extremely detailed panoramic views made up of hundreds of perfectly stitched individual photos is tremendously useful for scientists studying everything from rock outcrops to birds to microscopic organisms.
The creators of the GigaPan robot, which can automatically create zoomable gigapixel-scale images, announced eight winners of a science photography contest Nov. 11 at the Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imaging for Science.
“Having access to such high-resolution images changes scientists’ relationships to images and the information they contain,” said Carnegie Mellon University robotics scientist Illah Nourbaksh, one of GigaPan’s inventors and an organizer of conference.
Created in 2006 by Carnegie Mellon and NASA, the GigaPan robotic camera mount can shoot hundreds of perfectly aligned images using almost any digital camera. After the photographer uploads the photos to a computer, photo-stitching software seamlessly merges them into a single, highly zoomable image.
Since 2007, Nourbaksh and others have trained 120 scientists to use the system. “There are 8,000 GigaPans out there just by scientists, and that’s growing every day as more of them use it,” Nourbaksh said.
From microbes on a barnacle to a landscape coated with penguins, explore the winning scientist-photographer entries, plus a sneak preview of zoomable, gigapixel-size, time-lapse videos.