Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Nevada Geo-gigapix: The Nevada Geologic Gigapixel Photography Experiment

Yes. I love to name stuff. Let's move on.

I finally made it out into the field to try out the gigapan robotic camera mount. Bottom line....sweet, man. This thing is a cinch to use and a kick to watch the first few times. It went so well that I started a new project that will be intimately linked with my too many other projects.

I have been swamped with many things ungeological at the office and could only make it to a local venue for the experiment...a cutbank along the Truckee River bike trail that I map in my mind each time I ride by it. Was hoping for a bigger splash with my first try, but settled on something simple.

After some basic setup procedures (maybe 5 minutes worth), I watched as my old sony digital camera was forced to take a systematic series of 33 pictures. Note that this is a small number and I could have taken 10s more with a higher resolution lens or a more expansive subject. Explore the gigapan site and you will get an idea of the possibilities.

Using the Gigapan stitcher software, I went from the image above to:

The result is a flawlessly stitched image (yes. I added the goofy deckled edge).

Take a minute to visit the hosted image at Gigapan.org to get a better feel why I think this is a great tool for geology. There you can zoom in and pan around and really check stuff out. The alluvial stratigraphy at this site is pretty straightforward, but you can imagine the insightful fun you could have with a particularly complicated exposure, right? Eventually, I will find out if the white bed is a tephra and get some radiocarbon dates on the organic muck horizons. Once I do that, I will tag the online image with the data.

A database of these types of (geotagged and geoannotated) images would be of great value. I need to ask some questions of others much smarter than I as to how I can add annotations and lines that can be turned on and off, etc.

Want to see some absolutely fabulous examples of what can be shown with gigapixel photography? Sure you do. Then check out the brilliant work of Greg Downing and others at xRez:

http://www.xrez.com/

The images of Yosemite are amazing. Also look for the images of the Eastern Sierra front and the Alabama Hills. Rumor has it that the Grand Canyon is in the offing. I and a group of like-minded digital geoheads are trying to get Greg to show the xRez stuff at the GSA annual meeting in Portland this year. Stay tuned.

Note also that Dr. Ron Schott has many geologically interesting gigapans that are easily found on the gigapan site by searching on 'geology'. For my AZ pals, he has a lot from your turf...why not check them out and provide some insights you may have?

2 comments:

Ryan said...

If you haven't already, check out photosynth.net. This application stitches your photos together in 3D. Navigation takes a little getting used to, but the results can be pretty amazing.

Dr. Jerque said...

Thanks Ryan,

Looking into it based on earlier rec. from Joe. Expecting that it could mesh well with the gigapan robotic camera mount.