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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2012-08-27

2012 Summer Olympics - David Bergman
“I didn't want to go back to the Olympics and stand next to 500 other shooters…”

By David Bergman

Photo by David Bergman

Photo by David Bergman

Photographer David Bergman made the composite photo by shooting 200 individual photos in a grid pattern (20 across by 10 down) over a 21 minute period during the event. The final high-resolution image is 98,101 X 31,747 -- over three billion pixels.


This was my fifth Olympics, but this time I was doing something special. In addition to working with legendary sports photographer Neil Leifer on NBC's Today Show, I produced Gigapan images for NBC and Sports Illustrated at eight different events throughout the Games. I made my first Gigapan in 2009 at President Obama's Inauguration (http://davidbergman.net/gigapan/) and have spent the last few years developing my techniques for making these images at large scale events with thousands (or millions!) or people.

The basic concept is to shoot hundreds of overlapping photos and stitch them together to form a massively high-resolution (gigapixel) image. The Gigapan hardware and software assist in the process, but I still do all of the shooting manually and then the post-processing overnight right after each event. It's easy to make a simple Gigapan, but make a 'good' one is actually quite difficult.

While it's a composite of images taken over a period of time, I try to make the final photo stand up on it's own. I was pretty happy with my Gigapan from the women's beach volleyball match on August 3rd. The scene was amazing, and since I had access to NBC TV platforms, I was able to setup dead center at the highest point in the stadium. I shot 200 images with the 36-megapixel Nikon D800 and a 200mm lens. The final image is 98,101 X 31,747 pixels, which is over 3,000 megapixels (3 gigapixels!).

If you view the Gigapan on the NBC website (http://www.nbcolympics.com/gigapans/beach-volleyball.html) or the Sports Illustrated site (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/olympics/2012/gigapan/beach_volleyball/) you can zoom in on any detail in the shot -- all the way down to see the color of USA silver medalist Jen Kessy's fingernail polish. Fans can tag themselves, or shoot a zoomed-in snapshot to share on Facebook.

While I literally have to pull an all-nighter to get these done, it's absolutely worth it. I've always preached about "separating yourself from the pack" by doing something different from all the other photographers. I didn't want to go back to the Olympics and stand next to 500 other shooters, with all of us trying desperately to make a photo that was 5 percent better. But this is a niche that I've spent years working on and the hard work has paid off. At least until I figure out the next thing.


David Bergman is a freelance photographer based in New York. You can see examples of his work at his Sports Shooter member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/members.html?id=69.

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