Refined over years of practice and experimentation, we have perfected every step of the VAST photo creation process. Learn more about the process, equipment, and methods involved below.
Every photo starts with a great deal of location scouting and brainstorming. For any given subject, there are countless different angles, perspectives, and conditions to consider. We plan for a time to shoot the photo with a keen awareness of how the scene changes depending on the weather, the time of day, and the time of year. Even small changes in lighting, timing, or conditions can dramatically alter the mood of a scene. The rest of the process is merely working to create the final image we've already visualized in our mind.
Exposing the matrix of images that will be stitched together into the final VAST photo can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Unlike traditional photographs, a VAST photo's exceptional resolution demands the utmost attention to detail at this point, whether we're calculating the hyperfocal distance to establish the sharpest possible image, accounting for the direction of moving objects to ensure they're portrayed accurately, physically locking our apertures to guarantee exactly identical exposure characteristics, or carefully adjusting circular lens filters to correct for camera rotation. Finally, we will typically repeat this step, performing multiple passes over the scene with different exposure settings to capture the full dynamic range of the lighting.
The exposure process utilizes a number of specialty tools such as rotational gimbal mounts, modified tripods, wind shields, and field computers. All of this gear is precisely manufactured to the highest standards because the incredibly high resolution of a VAST photo means that even the tiniest amount of mechanical vibration or perspective-shift during the exposure process can ruin an entire photo. Our specially-made gimbal mounts enable the camera's perspective on the scene to remain unchanged as we rotate the equipment to expose the matrix of images. Additionally, we use some of the best prime lenses up to 800mm and shoot with cameras employing latest ultra high megapixel image sensors. As a result, VAST photos are strikingly devoid of typical adverse optical artifacts such as noise, distortion, and chromatic aberration.
During the image processing step, we are very careful with the demosaicing algorithms we use to convert the raw image data from our camera sensors into visible image files. This is because we need to ensure a consistent reproduction of luma values across the entire final photo. Then, utilizing specialty software and image processing algorithms that we've created, we stitch the individual images together, carefully aligning all elements and smoothly blending each frame together, resulting in a single, seamless, full-size photo.
We then use software tools and custom processing scripts to blend together multiple photos of the target scene, each with different exposure characteristics. This creates a VAST photo that accurately represents the full tonal range of colors and light in the scene. This step also results in a photo with a visual aesthetic that captures the emotion of the scene as it was. This entire creation process from capture to edit to print is executed using a 16-bit, wide-gamut, color-calibrated workflow.
We use liquid-cooled, overclocked computers in order to efficiently process the gargantuan volume of image data that is used in the VAST photo creation process. A single VAST photo asset can alone be over a terabyte in size. Our expertise in computer science has enabled us to custom build our own computers from the ground up because you quite simply can't buy pre-made computers that are powerful enough to wrangle photos of this size. A single one of our computers is more powerful than a dozen high-end MacBook Pro computers combined.
Our focus on perfection doesn't stop once we have the final VAST photo file. We carefully tune the photo to look best on the specific printer we'll be generating the physical print on. We've tested dozens of printers and materials to perfect our image tuning algorithms to ensure the highest image quality on the world's best printers.
Learn more about our photographic prints here, our giclee prints here, and our acrylic displays here