Grand Canyon GigaView
A Virtual Tour of America's Premier River Trip
PNY Secure Digital cards go rafting.
In less than a week, eight friends and I will push off from the bank at Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River for a 225 mile wilderness rafting expedition down the Grand Canyon. Traveling with me are two small, waterproof boxes containing a number of 16GB Secure Digital cards from PNY that are crucial to the photography project I will be working on during the trip.
I am going to attempt to produce the first virtual tour of the Grand Canyon by river and upload it to Google Earth. My images will be ultra-hi resolution GigaPans that are photo mosaics of hundreds of standard photographs. The exploratory natural of the GigaPan images will add new depth to this large scale virtual tour.
I hope to shoot up to one hundred GigaPan images, and each one may consist of up to 1200 pics at 2MB each. That is a lot of data if you don't have a hard drive you can load it on to. Because there will be little opportunity to recharge batteries (solar and wind are not reliable enough at the bottom of the Canyon), I will not be bringing a computer on the trip. All of my electronics must run off of the 636 AA batteries that I have loaded into two military issue ammo cans. The GigaPan Epic 100 robotic camera mount requires a lot of batteries when shooting through the full 360 degree rotation I plan to use.
Each day, we will break camp, load boats, push off, run up to 30 river miles of calm canyon waters and challenging whitewater, stop for hikes and lunch, and then make camp again. This cycle will repeat for 18 days until we finally round the last bend to the foreign sight of a truck parked at the takeout at Diamond Creek. At as many stops as I can, I will be shooting GigaPan images.
The images will be uploaded to both GigaPan.org and Google Earth once they are safely back at my Portland, OR office desk, stitched with the GigaPan software, and approved by Google. Once online, two user experiences will be available. At GigaPan.org, users will be able to explore the images one at a time and take snapshots from the image to share the points of interest they find. On Google Earth, with the GigaPan layer turner on, users will be able to zoom into the Grand Canyon from space and will notice imagery spheres following the course of the river. Zooming in still further into one of the spheres, the user will be immersed in the image and able look in any direction as if they were standing by the side of the river. Zooming within the GigaPan image itself, will provide higher resolution content for striking detail. All of this will be possible and free for anyone and everyone because a handful of people (some of them complete strangers) helped me make the project happen. My background as both a wilderness rafting guide and a Google Maps Street View photographer inspired me to create Grand Canyon GigaView, but it has only happened with the help of others.
As this must remain a not-for-profit project as per National Park Service regulations, I funded this project with a unique fund-raising platform at Kickstarter.com, which leverages the power of today's social media and online retailing. The website provides an easy way to spread the word about a project like this and an easy way to contribute to or "back" the project through Amazon.com with amounts ranging from one dollar to $500.
58 people and 9 companies now have a vested interest in the success of my project, so it is absolutely critical to me that the digital storage of my images be reliable. That's why I called PNY. I only use PNY digital storage products at work and at home, and I wanted to have the same security of my data for this project. When I push off from that river bank at Lee's Ferry, I'll begin this journey confident at least in the security of the digital storage. The rest is up to the river. Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.
Here is my pitch video for Kickstarter.com:
Here are a few photos from my 2005 Grand Canyon river trip, my days as a Street View photographer.
Photos Courtesy of Thomas Hayden
I will provide a trip report upon return and Grand Canyon GigaPan should be online by mid-summer.
- Thomas Hayden