360 degree Photograph Made from 3 Overlapping Sections of 6,000 x 157,000 RGB Pixels
by Mike Collette; January 2008

Driving home after a rewarding photographic tour of Death Valley National Park, I was struck by the awesome scenery all around Panamint Valley on the west side of the Park, so I stopped near Panamint Springs to take a picture. I used a 300mm lens to bring the distant mountains closer and reduce the amount of sky and desert in the foreground. This long focal length could only capture about 150 degrees horizontally at full resolution because of a 65,000 pixel limit in the scanning back control software, so I made three overlapping sections to cover the full 360 degree view. Each section required about four minutes to scan plus another minute of setup, so it took me fifteen minutes to record all three sections at high noon under delightful cloud cover.

After combining the three sections, the full resolution 48-bit RGB image is over 5.2 gigabytes in size, with 6,000 vertical by 157,000 horizontal full-color pixels. No interpolation of any kind was required, and there are only two invisible seams in this panorama. Optimum exposure conditions produced a very low noise image, and favorable weather conditions kept heat shimmer to a minimum in the distance. The surrounding mountains range from about 1 mile away to the west, 12 miles away to the north, 8 miles away to the east, and up to 30 miles away to the south. The distant snow-capped peaks hiding in the clouds include 11,000 ft. tall Telescope Peak.

The complete 360 degree image (above) highlights the colorful mountains surrounding Panamint Valley.

Below is about one-sixth of the photo showing Panamint Bluff and Highway 190 east to Death Valley.

At right is a magnified section showing the highway snaking through the dark hills in the lower right corner of the above image. This section is still only 25% of the original image resolution.
Increasing the image magnification to 100% reveals a white vehicle on the highway just above the dark hills, about seven miles away from the camera. This vehicle is only 4 pixels high by 7 pixels wide in the full-resolution image.

Blowing up the image to 400% magnification shows the vehicle's windows, as well as the white lines along the highway.

At seven miles away from a 300mm lens, each pixel in the original image represents about 1.5 feet - much wider than the white lines - but these low-contrast features are still detectable because of the scanning back's low noise and freedom from interpolation.

Shown here at 200% magnification is a tank truck traveling South on Panamint Valley Road, about three miles away from the camera. The bits of cyan coloration were caused by the truck moving as it was scanned.

At three miles away from a 300mm lens, each pixel in the original image represents about 7.6 inches. This truck is 16 pixels high by 72 pixels wide in the original image, which would make it about 10 feet tall and 45 feet long.