Photographer Spotlight: Gavin Farrell
Gavin's first experience of a conceptual "gigapixel" image was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the mid-nineties: The Qianlong Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour Scrolls exhibit. Twelve incredibly long meticulously hand painted scrolls, which if combined, would stretch 2 1/2 football fields along. The scrolls were commissioned by the Qianlong emperor in 1736 to document his tour of southern China. Viewing the scrolls has been compared to viewing an immense aerial gigapixel panorama.
"Walking from left to right, one could move from a broad landscape, to inside a city, to a house and through a window to coins in a person’s outstretched hand,” says Gavin.
In 2008, as an honoree member of Visual Effects company xRez, he was an integral team member in the creation of the Yosemite Extreme Panoramic Imaging Project. The goal of the project was to create a single simultaneous lateral gigapixel view of Yosemite valley in it's entirety, using 18 GigaPan BETA units. Read more about the project.
Gavin’s work can be found in private collections throughout the country. Several public installations are available for viewing - from a giant wall mounted gigapixel print inside the Hotel MAYA, in Long Beach, California, to a newly installed interpretive signs throughout the Mount St Helen's National Monument in Washington State. In 2009, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra played to his panoramic projections for: "An American Symphony", inside Seattle’s Benayora Hall, timing the final gigapixel image zooms to the crescendos in the musical compositions.
Many of the places Gavin has photographed are no longer accessible to the public or have changed so dramatically that they would hardly be recognizable, such as the ancient crumbling structures he shot in Tibet and Cambodia. Gavin is passionate about capturing the transitory beauty of diverse landscapes, with a strong emphasis on capturing as many details as possible.
"By capturing these places at the gigapixel level it provides viewers the simultaneous experience of a telescopic and human vantage point, and you can even take it further to a macro-gigapixel level,” says Gavin. “All in all, what's important is that it helps people understand the larger context of the world we live in, even the universe.”
"Often people think of astrophotography or microscopic photography as specialized niche fields and thereby the images of their lives or human landscapes, their human scale day-to-day, are somehow more real,” says Gavin.
“Gigapixel photography is important because it helps people understand visual relationships in the greater context. Comparing it to High Dynamic Range Imaging, where you capture a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image and make it visible and accessible to the human eye, gigapixel photography creates an image with a greater resolution, a high-resolution, so that it can offer multiple scales of vantage. What happens if you combine the two? Well then you get a Gigapan Epic Pro combined with a Promote Systems Controller."
Gigapan and Promote Control
Gavin started using the Promote Control with the Gigapan EPIC Pro in 2010. The EPIC Pro and Promote Control all-in-one advanced remote control for digital SLR cameras work together for creating HDR and focus stacked panoramas, shooting with the flexibility in exposure bracketing needed to create high-quality images.
"The two units work amazingly well together,” says Gavin. “You can actually tether the EPIC Pro to the Promote and then the Promote to the DSLR camera. This allows you set up some automations, that would ordinarily be very tricky to do, like an HDRI gigapixel, a focused stacked gigapixel, or even a focused stacked HDRI gigapixel.”
Favorite Gigapan Image
The image Gavin chose to share is Old City of Gyantse in Tibet, a tone-mapped HDR gigapixel image. It was shot with a Canon 5D Mark II with a EF 300mm f/4L IS USM lens. The camera was mounted to a Gigapan EPIC Pro tethered to a Promote Systems controller.
"I spent many weeks in this ancient city built of clay and stone and it has a tranquil beauty that is hard to describe,” says Gavin. “This image was shot from a mountain side south east of the city and I love how the setting sun lights up the Tibetan prayer flags strewn above many of the houses and structures. I also love this image because everything points to the building called the Kumbum, an artistic and spiritual center and temple of the city."
Gavin is board member of the International Association of Panoramic Photographers (IAPP) and actively pushes the evolution of the panoramic photography space. He will be making some exciting announcements in late 2014 regarding his work in Tibet with art historian Thomas Laird, author of Conversations with the Dalai Lama. Many of Gavin's images can be viewed at gavinfarrell.com or on gigapan.com.