Skip to main content

Photographer captures 360-degree shot of NYC from atop Empire State Building

Think you have to climb up 102 stories and put some coins inside those binoculars on the top of the Empire State Building to get a bird’s-eye view of New York? Think again. Photographer Aleksandr Reznik of Lithuania recently completed a 45 gigapixel — that’s 45,000 megapixels — 360-degree panorama from the top of what’s considered the world’s most photographed building. And he shot it all by hand.

The photograph’s abnormally high resolution allows viewers to zoom in on the details of iconic buildings and bridges or even Central Park. If Reznik printed the image at 150 dpi, the image would be longer than a football field at 166 feet wide.

“The cities with great history and a lot of well-known places are the best for making gigapixel images,” Reznik said. “There are only several places on Earth where you can be high in the center of the city and observe it without the interference of window glass. Sure, each city has some high buildings — but it normally has some problems, like the city isn’t interesting, the building isn’t in the center, or the view is covered by glass.”

The gigapixel count seems impressive enough — but there are no tripods allowed on the Empire State Building’s observation deck. Reznik, who has been shooting for more than 25 years and ventured into panorama work in 2009, shot about 4,000 images by hand during three separate trips to the observation deck. While the photographer says it’s always better to use a tripod, it wasn’t a big issue since he’s shot and stitched together several high-resolution panoramas before without one — including views from the Eiffel Tower and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Aleksandr Reznik
Aleksandr Reznik

Reznik used a Canon 5DSR and a 200mm f/2.8 len. Using a telephoto lens allowed him to include more photographs to cover the same perspective, which gives the photo that high resolution. In 2014, he shot a panorama from the same spot with a 50mm lens, which resulted in a one gigapixel image. A partnership with roundme, a media platform dedicated to 360 views, allowed him to return again in the summer of 2015 for the 45 gigapixel image. He finished the stitching process and shared the shot in August.

The final panorama ended up taking about 1,200 photographs — it took Reznik several months and a $4,000 computer to put it all together. “When you are working with 100 to 200 GB files, all of the procedures are very slow. Opening a file? Fifteen minutes. Saving the file? Half an hour.”

Sharing an image with such a large file size also presents a problem — Reznik used roundme and its recently added Pro Account , which allows users to post large gigapixel files.

“The Empire State Building is just a gem for gigapixels,” Reznik said. The image is the biggest he’s shot, and while 45 gigapixels isn’t the biggest photograph in the world, he believes it might just be the biggest shot by hand.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
DJI’s 2022 drone contest offers record prize pool
A photo taken from a drone.

Leading drone maker DJI has teamed up with the SkyPixel online community for its eighth annual photo and video contest.

Whether you’re an experienced drone pilot or an absolute beginner still finding your way, the contest is the perfect opportunity to send your machine skyward in a test of your creative skills.

Read more
How $80 of photo processing software magically saved me thousands
photo editing topaz labs denoise ai phil camera

It's a good time to be a photographer, whether you're just starting out and really don't have any idea what you're doing, or if you're a seasoned pro looking to try something new.

The gear is better than ever, making even entry-level bodies better than what the previous generation started out with. Software options make cataloging and processing your photos faster and less destructive, so you can revisit things for years and give old pics new life.

Read more
Sony A7 III mirorless camera is $300 off for Black Friday
Sony Alpha a7 III Mirrorless front view.

There are a lot of great Best Buy Black Friday deals going on right now, and whether you're looking for TVs, laptops, or even headphones, there's a little something for everybody. Of course, many folks may not realize that Best Buy has some fantastic deals on high-end photography gear, such as this Sony Alpha a7 III mirrorless camera. While it usually goes for a whopping $2,200, Best Buy had brought it down to $1,900, and while that relatively doesn't seem like much, you could always spend the $300 savings on a new lens.

Why you should buy the Sony Alpha a7 III
The Sony Alpha a7 III is a camera with so much tech that it might as well be three different cameras. It has excellent dynamic range, low-light performance, and high-speed performance, and the full-frame sensors make the images look absolutely stunning. Interestingly, the a7 III manages to do an excellent job at both low and high ISOs, the latter of which can go as high as 51,200 non-boosted, which, granted, adds a lot of noise, but noise reduction helps with that. As for the video, well, sadly, it's not as impressive, at least in terms of advancements in image quality, and while it can do 8-bit 4K at 30 frames per second, it's no longer ahead of the pack in that regard, like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is with its 400Mbps 10-bit codec and 60-fps 4K.

Read more