El Capitan Climbing Routes in Gigapixel Resolution

El Cap

Greg Downing and Eric Hanson, veteran visual effects artists, started xRez Studio (now Blueplanet VR and HyperAcuity) back in 2006 as a way to apply high level computer graphics used in the film industry to an array of diverse markets. Yosemite Valley as a gigapixel photography test subject has always fascinated the duo and they had the opportunity to work with the NY Times on the Dawn Wall interactive piece back in 2015.

A year later, Greg and Eric hatched a plan to shoot El Cap in record-setting 228,000 pixel resolution using an 800mm Canon L prime with a robotic Rodeon head. Early one morning, they followed climbers Erik and Roger Putnam climb The Nose over the course of seven hours, shooting 2,000 images of their continual moves. The following day, they shot the entire width of El Cap with 2,000 images to make up the base image. A massive post-production stitching job then began, taking over 2 years to finalize.

The resulting gigapixel image is one that contains a tremendous range of detail, allowing for interactive exploratory online images and large prints that show no softening or degradation from size. Intricate details are revealed at close inspection, such as climbers on the wall and delicate features on the rock face.

With the El Cap panorama complete, climber Erik worked diligently tracing routes over the extremely high resolution image. You can play around with the interactive image and zoom in on specific routes at the following link — even with its incredible detail it’s still only one third of the full resolution. You can also buy 60-inch wide display prints over on Yosemitebigwall.com.

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