A roving photojournalist from the Exploratorium in San Francisco took three stunning portraits of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's klystron gallery last fall. The 180-degree panoramas are mosaics of more than 150 individual photographs; the 360-degree pan is 477 shots.
The photographer, Ron Hipschman, took the pictures using a robotic tripod head called a GigaPan Imager. The device uses the same photo technology that the Mars Exploration Rovers use to create mosaic images of the Martian landscape. It cradles a point-and-shoot digital camera, calculates how many pictures it needs to take, and clicks the shutter button with a robotic arm several times a minute, panning and tilting to capture all angles. "You just stand back and let it go," Hipschman says.
Each panorama took about 40 minutes to shoot, but the results are dazzling. The images are also "shockingly zoomable," as Hipschman puts it. They use the same image technology as Google Earth to let you zoom in on any point without losing resolution.
Hipschman's job as webmaster for the Exploratorium science museum has taken him from CERN to Cape Canaveral to Antarctica, but he hopes to come back to SLAC for another photoshoot as well. "These pictures are just my foot in the door at SLAC," he says. "I hope to do more panoramas in additional interesting locations. SLAC's an amazing place."
See more of Hipschman's SLAC panoramas:
By Lisa Grossman, SLAC intern
A version of this story first appeared in SLAC Today on January 20, 2009.