Gigapixel Images

The stained glass windows of the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi &
the Silver Altar, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence

Digital solutions provide new ways to create meaningful online exhibitions. The KHI is developing a digital repository to host exhibitions of photographic campaigns by using innovative technological solutions to visualize the photographs and related data.  

Our first use case was the Assisi Gigapixel Photographic Campaign by photographer Ghigo Roli. The gigapixel images shown in the project are mosaics of high-resolution digital images created by photographer Ghigo Roli. They allow a close-up view of the photographed object that is not possible on site. This project was commissioned in 2018 by the Photothek and consists of pictures of the stained glass windows of the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi. These windows date from 1315 to 1325 and are the oldest known depictions of the life of Saint Anthony. Roli took 500 pictures of the windows and then stitched them together in order to create a gigapixel photograph of every single window.

Our second use case was the  Silver Altar at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence. The 14th-century silver altar created for the Florentine Baptistery and the crucifix made about 80 years later are some of the most difficult objects to photograph due to their reflective surfaces.

In 2011, photographer Ghigo Roli took more than 260 digital photographs of the two works of art now on display in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo di Firenze. He photographed the figures and reliefs depicting scenes from the life of Saint John the Baptist, both in detail and from different perspectives. Ghigo Roli has also produced gigapixel images that make it possible to zoom from panoramic images to very fine detail.

The main technical challenges with gigapixel images are their dimensions, which require a considerable amount of storage space, and make it difficult for users to retrieve and load the images. We addressed this issue by using an image tiling technique: the image selected by the user is not loaded as a whole, but only one tile at a time and when the user zooms in or moves the image, a new tile is displayed to the user.

Gigapixel Images


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